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Pet Insurance

Veterinary knowledge, diagnostics, drugs and treatments have progressed greatly over the last 10-15 years; they can be essential to obtain a diagnosis, optimise treatment and improve the outcome for your pet.

Unfortunately there is no ‘NHS for pets’, which means that private veterinary treatment can incur some significant costs. At Shires Vets we suggest you take out pet insurance to cover the unexpected treatment costs for your pet should they become unwell or injured. Unfortunately we frequently deal with situations where funds have limited the animal’s treatment options or owners assumed a large credit card debt to pay for unexpected treatment. A significant proportion of our clients at Shires Vets have their pets insured to give them peace of mind.

What can pet insurance cover?

  • Veterinary fees if your pet becomes unwell or is injured (a fractured leg repair could cost £1500-2000, treatment of a non-healing corneal ulcer could cost £150-300).
  • Veterinary fees if your pet needs referral to a specialist (e.g. an MRI scan can cost £1500 with treatment costs on top)
  • 3rd party liability cover should your dog cause injury or damage to someone else’s property
  • The purchase price of your pet should it be lost/ stolen/ passes away at young age.
  • The costs of looking after your pet should you need emergency hospitalisation.
  • The costs of a holiday cancelled because of a pet needing emergency surgery close to departure.
  • Veterinary fees whilst travelling abroad under the Pets Travel Scheme.


What types of pet insurance cover are available?

Do take time to look at the different policies available and read the small print before making a decision. Different policies can suit different households needs better. There are several types of insurance available:

  • Accident only – covers for accidental injuries only. i.e. help fix a broken leg, but not a gastrointestinal upset requiring treatment in hospital. This basic cover can be added to the Shires Rewards scheme (Note that the Shires Rewards scheme is not an insurance policy, but a way of making preventative veterinary care e.g. vaccinations more affordable and spread the cost into convenient monthly payments)
  • Time and benefit limited – A twelve month policy provides insurance for each new medical condition, up to a set financial limit. Each condition is covered for 12 months usually from onset of signs or diagnosis. If the financial limit is reached within 12 months then the insurance will stop paying for the condition. The condition then becomes excluded to prevent future related claims.
  • Benefit limited – There is a financial limit for each new condition that your pet may suffer. Each condition is insured until the financial limit has been reached with no time limit on your claim. Once the financial limit is reached the condition becomes excluded from future claims.
  • Lifetime cover – All new medical conditions are insured, up to a set total financial limit each year, as long as the insurance policy remains in force. Where the total financial limit has been reached no further claims will be paid until the policy is renewed, at which time the limit may be fully re-instated (check with your insurer). For example it should cover ongoing problems lifelong such as allergic skin disease management which can cost up to £150 per month for a large dog or managing your cat’s diabetes at approximately £50-75 per month.

Note: the cover provided by different products can vary considerably. If you are taking out pet insurance you should take care to choose the type of product and level of cover to meet your needs.


What is NOT covered by pet insurance policies?

  • Any condition that relates to your pet’s medical history before the policy was started. This also applies if you change insurer, even if a claim was not taken out so AVOID SWITCHING INSURERS unless your pet has been fully healthy in the past. Insurers will often request previous veterinary history at the time.
  • Conditions related to pregnancy/ birth/ caesarians.
  • Routine or preventative treatments (e.g. dental maintenance, neutering surgery, vaccinations, worming treatments etc). Consider the Shires Rewards scheme to cover some of these costs.
  • The purchase price of your pet should they die at an older age.

Many policies have a ‘waiting period’ at the start of the policy. Only illnesses showing signs after this 10-30 day period can be claimed for. The free one month’s pet insurance we can give kittens and puppies at their first vaccinations at Shires Vets through Pet Plan has no waiting period as a veterinary examination certifies health at the start of cover (if no signs illness shown or reported).

What is the insurance policy ‘excess’?

Most policies have an ‘excess’. This is an amount that the policyholder must pay towards the cost of each claim e.g. £75-150.

The cost of insurance policy premiums

Pet insurance policy premiums can vary according to many factors including where you live, the breed of cat or dog and its age. As your pet ages the premium and policy excess are likely to increase as the risk of illness understandably increases. Pedigree breeds are more expensive than crossbreeds as they can be more likely to inherit medical conditions.


  • Shop around for the policy that suits your needs best, but remember the level of cover can vary greatly between the types described above.
  • Please ask one of the team at Shires Vets if we can help any further.
  • Always read the policy details and ‘key facts’ document.
  • Always answer the insurer’s questions honestly, as the insurer may refuse to pay your claim if you do not.
  • Ensure your monthly premium does not falter as this can seriously affect future claims should your pet have an ongoing condition.
  • Relax knowing that you’ve got your pet covered!

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