Insuring your pet could be more expensive than insuring your car, according to AA figures. So, is purchasing pet coverage worth the cost?
Most people will seriously think about the cost of a car, but overlook the long-term cost of owning a pet. A new report from the AA highlights just how much more expensive pet insurance premiums can compare to auto insurance.
Read on to find out if you would have to pay more to protect your Rhodesian Ridgeback than your hatchback.
How does dog insurance compare to their “similar” four-wheeled counterparts?
To demonstrate the sometimes large price differential between car and dog insurance, the AA compared premiums for dogs and vehicles with “similar characteristics”. For example, a Great Dane (a big German dog) is compared to a BMW X5 (a big German car).
The graph below shows the annual AA price for all three dogs, with the most expensive insurance premiums and cars that look like them.
The example represents the costs of AA coverage for a one year old neutered male dog versus a car owned by a 38 year old male with a bonus.
It should be borne in mind that purebred dogs tend to be more expensive to insure: dogs without pedigrees will generally have cheaper coverage, and cats even cheaper.
How does pet and auto insurance compare in general?
Even looking beyond the rarer breeds of dogs, pet insurance can still get surprisingly expensive.
To make an ‘average’ comparison, we compared the premiums on the most common dog breed and car model in the UK.
According to Statista, there were more Labrador Retrievers registered in the UK than any other breed in 2017, and the Ford Fiesta was the best-selling car of 2018.
Based on generating a quote from the AA, insuring a Labrador would cost £ 691 per year, while insuring a Fiesta would cost £ 216.
There are, of course, other insurance providers to choose from, so it’s worth shopping around to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
If you are one? member, you can discover the best and worst pet insurance companies, based on how their clients rate them and our expert analysis – for more, check out our guide.
Pet Insurance: What Are Your Options?
While you’re unlikely to buy a pet on the basis of insurance costs alone, the comparison highlights just how much of a financial commitment owning a responsible pet is.
Some pet operations can cost thousands of pounds. A double hip replacement on a dog, for example, could cost you around £ 7,000. This is where pet insurance can be a financial lifeline.
Most insurance policies will cover the following:
- treatment of accidents, illnesses and injuries
- death by accident or illness
- Travelling abroad
- kennel and cattery fees
- euthanasia, cremation and burial
- dental work.
Pre-existing conditions, such as chronic health conditions or previous injuries, are normally excluded from new insurance coverage, as are routine treatments such as vaccinations, sterilization and deworming.
An alternative is to self-insure by setting aside money for veterinary emergencies. If you and your pet are lucky, it could be cheaper, but there are a lot more risks. Serious illness or injury could quickly overwhelm your savings.
Another alternative is the help of charities for animals. This is generally means tested and is more likely to be available if you have low income or are retired.
Finding the best pet insurance
If your furry friend is in need of treatment, pet insurance may be more cost effective than paying for the operations yourself. But it all depends on the policy you have and the state of health of your pet before and during the period of coverage.
You might pay less for a lower level of coverage, but it may not be enough to deal with your pet’s medical emergencies. In general, which one? recommends the following levels of coverage:
- purebred dog – at least £ 7,000 annual coverage
- dog without pedigree – annual coverage of at least £ 4,000
- cats – at least £ 3,000 annual coverage
It pays to buy your insurance policy when your pet is healthy, as insuring an unhealthy pet can be much more expensive. You can also save costs by taking good care of your pet.
Here are some general tips to help you lower your pet insurance costs:
- keep abreast of jabs
- microchip your pet
- pay annually (if you can afford it).
With dozens of policies to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which provider to choose. Our dog insurance reviews and cat insurance reviews make that choice easier.
We have measured the satisfaction of thousands of policyholders and created scores for each policy based on a number of important factors.