How to change your pet insurance
While many of our much-loved pets are living longer and healthier lives thanks to advances in veterinary treatment, this care doesn't come cheap. Many owners take out a pet insurance policy to help cover the cost of vets' fees – to avoid ending up in debt, or watching their lifetime's savings getting depleted.
Research shows that around one in three policyholders ends up making a claim. If you don't have adequate savings to cover the costs of vets' fees yourself, you could face a tough decision if your pet is injured or becomes ill. There is a great deal of variation in the types of pet insurance policies available, however, and you may realise at some point that you wish to switch from policy to another.
Understanding the different levels of pet insurance cover
If you're investing in pet insurance, it's crucial to choose a policy that provides the right level of cover for your pet. Most cover medical expenses up to a limit, so it's important to check this figure. Some more expensive insurance policies offer a more comprehensive 'cover for life' (or 'lifetime cover'), for example, which covers your pet not only for urgent operations, but also for ongoing medical treatment for long-term conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy or diabetes.
On the other hand, more basic policies tend to limit payouts to just 12 months for ongoing treatment, or will only pay for the same operation once or twice. Basic policies may also not cover your pet for any complementary treatments such as hydrotherapy or acupuncture.
After weighing up the pros and cons of each type of cover, compare quotes from different pet insurance providers to find the best deal. They each assess the 'risk' your pet poses and set their premiums accordingly – but each company gives a different weight to each risk factor, so it's worth shopping around.
Changing your policy
If you realise you want to change your pet insurance to a different level of cover, or switch to a different provider, the easiest time to cancel is within the first 14 days of taking out a new policy. During this 'cooling- off' period you will receive a full refund on premiums you’ve paid to date. If the cooling-off period has already passed when you decide to cancel, however, you won’t receive a refund on any premiums you've already paid.
To cancel, contact your insurance company, who may ask for notice in writing. The specific details of how to go about cancelling should be included in your policy documents.
Remember that you may not need to cancel if you simply want to change some details or extend your cover. Call your provider to tell them about any new circumstances or insurance needs before you cancel to see if they can amend the policy instead.
Watch out for automatic renewal
If you're thinking about changing your insurance, keep an eye on your renewal date – many providers automatically renew if the policyholder doesn't get in touch to ask them not to. Your renewal premium may be expensive, and you may find a better deal elsewhere. Use a comparison website to find the cheapest premiums available for the level of cover you need – reading the small print to make sure you're comparing 'like for like'. Call your existing insurer to tell them you're considering cancelling, and they may just offer you a more competitive price rather than lose your business.