VET’S VIEW: Make sure your insurance policy is right for your needs

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ONE year ago, my weekend in France turned into an eight-night stay in hospital instead of the relaxing break I had hoped for.

As I was admitted, the hospital took a €2,500 deposit, and it made me realise how lucky we are with our own National Health Service and how easy it is to take free healthcare for granted.

Animals are not so lucky, of course, and pet insurance can be a real benefit, ensuring veterinary care is available in an emergency.

But there are a plethora of policies out there, and it is important to know what you are buying.

Many policies are cheaper because they limit the cover in some way, so make sure the policy provides what you need.

Be especially wary if the cover expires after one year – it won’t be much help if your pet has a long-term illness, such as arthritis.

There can also be a real danger in shopping around at renewal time to get a better quote.

Your pet may have had a minor stomach complaint which you didn’t bother to claim for at the time.

But if a similar problem presents in the subsequent year, and requires more extensive treatment the new company may refuse to cover it, claiming two incidents are related, and it can be hard to prove they are not.

If you are not sure, check your pet’s health record with your vet before changing policies.

As a veterinary practice, we cannot advise you on specific policies, but it is worth asking your nurse or receptionist what to look out for.

Remember that insurance will not cover routine vaccinations and parasite treatment (although you maybe required to have these as a condition of your insurance).

Many practices now offer plans which spread the cost of such routine care and give you a valuable discount on other services and products, too.