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‘My insurer won’t pay my £5k vet bill because my dog was injured abroad’

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02/10/2019
A pet owner has had to shell out around £5,000 after her dog suffered serious leg injuries while abroad and her insurance company refused to pay out.

Sam McPartland had taken out a Lifetime Policy for her three-year old labradoodle Bertie (pictured) with PetInsurance.co.uk, but has had to pay thousands of pounds to cover the cost of his surgery because her policy does not cover damage sustained outside the UK.

Sam, who lives in Kent, drove to France with her husband and three children this summer for a week’s holiday.

When they arrived at their rental house, Sam and her family went to the local supermarket and while they were out, Bertie fell from a first-floor window.

Sam took Bertie to the local vet who said he’d suffered no serious damage. However, when she took him to her vet back in the UK, she was told he had severed the ligaments in his paw and would need an operation to repair the damage.

When Sam contacted her insurance company, she was told the firm wouldn’t pay out because the dog was abroad when he was injured.

This came as a huge shock to Sam who thought Bertie was covered.

She said: “I was devastated to learn that my insured dog was not insured when we travelled with him to France. The surgery he needs is very costly, and we have had to take out a loan to pay for it.

“I was unaware, as was my vet, that pet insurance could be invalid when travelling.”

Sam claims it was not clear in the terms and conditions of her policy that there was an exclusion for injuries sustained overseas.

“On returning to the UK, I read the policy to make sure he was covered,” Sam said.

“I looked through the dos and don’ts – green ticks for covered and red crosses for not being covered.

“Everything listed left me feeling confident that Bertie’s surgery would be covered.  I specifically looked to see if he is covered when in France, and I did not see it excluded.”

Sam has written to the Financial Ombudsman, which is considering her case.

A spokesperson for PetInsurance.co.uk said: “Whilst we empathise with Mrs McPartland’s situation after her dog Bertie was injured falling out of a building from height in France, www.pet-insurance.co.uk’s policy wording and accompanying Insurance Policy Information Document both clearly state that cover for damage, loss or liability is excluded if it occurs outside the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.”

 

So, what should you do if you are taking your pet abroad?

Pet insurance policies don’t typically include foreign travel as standard so if you’re planning to go abroad with your pet, it’s worth checking the details of your own policy well in advance in case you need to purchase an add on.

Steven O’Callaghan, product manager at insurer Bought By Many, said: “You’ll need to check which parts of the world are covered in your policy and the maximum number of days you’re covered for.

“It’s also a good idea to check your cover limit. You could be covered for up to £7,000 in the UK, for example, but less abroad.”

According to MoneySuperMarket, most policies will only offer cover abroad if you have a pet passport in accordance with the EU pet travel scheme, which confirms that the animal has had specified vaccinations and which means it won’t have to spend time in quarantine.

But as this is an EU scheme, the passport will not be valid if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

You will then need to prove your animal is free from disease before you can travel, which may take up to three months in the case of rabies vaccinations. If you’re unsure on how to proceed, talk to your insurer and your vet as far in advance of travel as possible.

 

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