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Rising insurance premiums pet peeve for animal owners

Written by: Emma Lunn
Which? found that some dog and cat lovers fork out more than £1,000 a year to protect their furry friends.

A study by the group found that soaring pet insurance premiums were a concern for one in five policyholders.

A survey of more than 1,100 Which? members that have pet insurance found the average price they were paying for an annual lifetime policy was £420 a year for dogs and £264 for cats. But dozens of policyholders were spending more than £1,000 for cover.

According to Consumer Intelligence, there has been a surge in people buying pets during the coronavirus crisis, but only around half of new pets have been insured.

When Which? asked what the owners’ biggest insurance gripes were, price-related matters came top. One in five (19%) of those surveyed experienced problems with costs or increasing premiums.

Seven in 10 policyholders saw a rise since their last renewal – on average £84 for dogs and £40 for cats.

Just under a third (31%) of people with insurance for a dog made a claim in the past year, with 32% of them making two or more claims. A quarter (24%) had claimed for their cat.

Of 478 pet owners Which? additionally surveyed that didn’t have cover, one in five (22%) felt it was not worth having, while nearly half (46%) thought it was too expensive.

Most pet owners without insurance funded vet treatment out of their own pocket while some 16% ‘self-insured’ – putting money aside in savings to cover the costs.

Animal owners in the survey were paying consistently high amounts for cover as their furry friends aged.

Dog owners with 10 to 12-year-old pets were paying 80% more, on average, than those with dogs aged under four.

Owners of older cats were paying similarly more – with 10 to 12-year-old cats about 76% more expensive to insure than cats aged under three.

When Which? quizzed customers on how content they were with their provider, their opinion of its pricing seemed important to the overall rating they gave.

Customers of the provider that achieved the highest customer score (75%) in Which?’s survey were also least critical of its pricing – with 93% believing their policy to be ‘reasonably priced’. Only 37% of customers felt the same way about the provider with the lowest customer score (53%).

Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “High vet bills could be crippling for some people, so many animal lovers think pet insurance is a cost-effective option. But we have found rising insurance costs and premiums can give policyholders an unwelcome shock.

“There are a few things you can do to help rein in the cost of insuring your pets. The earlier you get cover, the better. A younger animal will have fewer pre-existing conditions, making for fewer exclusions and greater choice between policies.

“Always shop around for insurance, and if you want to switch, check which conditions the new insurer will and won’t cover.”

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