14:59 23 February 2013
Should I get pet insurance?
At the moment my living room is full of discarded toys, water and food bowls, cat baskets and blankets as I try to settle two nervous kittens into my home.
While I'm not too worried about the fact that Oswald and Earl have taken up permanent residence behind the settee - as I'm sure they'll soon rule the house - my concern at the moment is finding the right insurance for them so I have the peace of mind that they'll be covered should anything go wrong.
My previous cat, Oscar, died just before Christmas last year and, although living until the ripe old age of 20 (and most definitely ruling the house), his last few weeks were spent in and out of the vet, resulting in a hefty bill of almost £1,000.
So, I'm determined to avoid any unwanted surprises like this with the new arrivals.
I have a month to choose my insurer (the Cats Protection League from whom I adopted the kittens provides the first month for free), but here's what I'm looking for in a policy, and how I plan to find a deal.
The type of cover
One of the first decisions relates to the type of cover - standard, or lifetime.
Pet insurance is an annual contract, meaning you have to renew every 12 months. But clearly any illness that afflicts your cat won't necessarily conform to that timeframe. If you have standard cover, you're only protected against the cost of treatment up to renewal.
I'm going to get lifetime cover. This costs slightly more than standard protection but is well worth it as it means I'll be able to cover the cost of vets' bills for an ongoing condition beyond the end of a typical 12-month policy.
That means I'll have to stick with the same insurer, but, to me, this is a small price for the added protection.
Otherwise, should either of my cats suffer from a long-term illness, I'd have to pay all of the bills myself when a standard policy expired. What's more, my cat's would be classed as having a pre-existing condition, so I wouldn't be able to get cover from another insurer - or it would cost a great deal extra.
In the policies I've compared using MoneySupermarket, the difference between lifetime and standard cover was £2.21 a month per cat with More Than and £1.45 a month with pet-insurance.co.uk - so a small price for the extra protection.
My travel, home and car insurance policies all include an 'excess' - the amount I'd have to pay out in the event of a claim - and pet insurance is no different. The excess is there so that you can't claim for relatively small amounts, reducing the number of claims and thus keeping a lid on premiums.
So while I'm comparing the policies on offer, I'm paying attention to this figure. Some policies have a flat fee from around £40 while others have a fee plus a percentage of the vets' bills I'll have to pay.
What the cats will be covered for
It's possible to insure against the cost of cattery fees if you have to stay in hospital, but this isn't top of my priority list - my mum lives less than a mile away - although it could be for some.
And I quite like the idea of receiving money to offer as a reward for a lost kitten, but I'd rather have extra money towards vets' fees and protection should I have to cancel a holiday because Oswald or Earl were ill. So, I'm going to read the fine print of my short-list of policies carefully to ensure all of the levels match what I need.
Discounts for multiple cover
I'm slightly nervous about having two balls of fluff running around my house but, as I'm insuring both cats at the same time, I'm going to check whether my chosen insurers offer any discounts for covering more than one animal.
How I'm going to find the best deal
As with any insurance policy, I'm going to compare quotes using MoneySupermarket's comparison channels and while I'm doing this will look out for any discounts for buying my insurance online, whether it's cheaper to pay for the policy in one lump sum rather than setting up a monthly direct debit and I won't be tempted to buy the cheapest policy if it doesn't match my criteria.
I've got my cats just in time for Love Your Pet day, so will be sure to give them extra attention on February 20. If they've ventured out from behind the sofa before then.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
Disclaimer: Supanet is not responsible for, and disclaims any and all liability for the content of comments written by contributors to this website