More and more pet owners are taking out dog or cat health insurance to cover all or part of the veterinary costs inherent in the various illnesses or accidents suffered by their pets during their lifetime.
Insuring your pet: Yes, but why take out a dog or cat insurance policy? How does a pet insurance policy work? How to choose a veterinary insurance? How much does a pet insurance policy cost? When should you take out a dog or cat insurance policy? These are just some of the questions we will try to answer in order to help you make the right choice.
In 2017, France had 62.4 million pets, more than a third of which were dogs and cats (21.4 million). There are 21.5% cats, 11.7% dogs, 52.2% fish, 9.2% birds and 5.4% rodents.
50% of French households own at least one pet.
Animal health insurance has existed for over 40 years in England. In France, only 6% of owners insure their dog or cat, although this figure is constantly increasing. France has one of the lowest rates of membership compared to its European neighbours: 40% in England and up to 80% in Sweden!
Expenditure on the welfare of our pets has jumped by 20% in 5 years. The average annual expenditure (of which a significant part is for veterinary costs) is around €580 for a dog and €430 for a cat.
WHAT IS ANIMAL HEALTH INSURANCE?
Animal health insurance works like a human health insurance. In the event of illness and/or accidents, it reimburses all or part of the veterinary expenses incurred during consultations or surgery, medication, additional tests, etc.
Most of these veterinary insurance policies for dogs and cats also cover your pet if you have to be hospitalised (care costs) or immobilised at home (walking and outing costs).
WHY TAKE OUT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR YOUR PET?
The use of veterinary services by pet owners has increased steadily in recent years, both in volume and in value. This is due to the increase in the number of animals but also to greater medicalisation. The growth in veterinary costs is due to the greater technicality of the procedures performed on our animals. In 15 years, the range of pathologies treated in veterinary medicine has increased threefold.
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as well as complementary examinations and increasingly effective treatments (scanners, MRI, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc.).
HOW DOES HEALTH INSURANCE FOR DOGS AND CATS WORK?
Taking out pet health insurance allows you to be reimbursed for part of the veterinary costs incurred as a result of an illness or accident during your dog’s or cat’s life.
After a consultation, surgery or even the delivery of medication, the veterinarian fills out a care sheet which, along with the invoice, must be sent to the insurer who will proceed with the reimbursement within a variable timeframe depending on the company chosen. Some mutual insurance companies for animals reimburse veterinary expenses within 24 hours of receiving all the information.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE OUT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR YOUR DOG OR CAT?
It is advisable to insure your dog or cat as soon as possible because all companies impose age limits, on average from 2 months to 6 years. The animal continues to be insured once the waiting period has passed and this, throughout its life, whatever its age.
WHAT IS A WAITING PERIOD?
The waiting period of a mutual insurance for cats or dogs is a period during which the guarantees do not apply and which makes it possible to certify that the animal is in good health at the time of the subscription of the contract, a period which varies from 48 hours to 6 months before the coverage of the disease, the surgery… This period starts at the time of the taking effect of the contract. Hence the importance of taking out dog or cat health insurance as soon as possible, when the animal is young (puppy, kitten).
DOES MY PET HAVE TO BE IDENTIFIED TO BE INSURED?
In France, the insurance code makes it compulsory to identify dogs, cats and NACs (New Pet Animals).
IN WHICH CASES ARE I NOT REIMBURSED BY MY PET’S HEALTH INSURANCE?
All illnesses and accidents that occurred prior to the subscription or during the waiting period and that subsequently affect the health of your dog or cat are not reimbursed. Similarly, hereditary and congenital diseases and their consequences are included in the exclusions, as well as diseases that could have been prevented by compulsory vaccination, accidents that occurred during sporting competitions or hunting activities, and operations for cosmetic purposes. Castration or sterilisation is usually covered when there is a therapeutic reason for it.
WHAT ARE THE EXISTING HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS FOR DOGS AND CATS?
The different pet health insurance plans available vary in terms of reimbursement rates, deductibles and restrictions. The deductible is the amount of fixed veterinary expenses that the insured person must systematically pay.
Depending on the species, breed or type of animal, the owner must choose the veterinary insurance plan that best suits his needs.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF THE PREVENTION PACKAGE?
The prevention package offered by some pet insurance companies allows you to benefit from a sum allocated each year to finance the purchase of veterinary products that are not covered by reimbursements (deworming, external antiparasitics, hygiene products, etc.) and sometimes to help finance foreseeable veterinary expenses (vaccinations, preventive health checks, etc.).
HOW MUCH DOES A PET INSURANCE POLICY COST?
There are no conventional rates for dog and cat insurance and all pet insurance is provided by independent private organisations.
There are different formulas, from the simplest to the most complete. Depending on which one you choose, the percentage of veterinary expenses covered will differ (between 50 and 100%). It is up to you to make the choice that will optimise the health of your dog or cat, without neglecting the quality/price ratio. The higher the coverage, the more expensive the premiums.
It is important to compare the deductibles applied to any veterinary consultation. Some mutual insurance companies offer you to choose the amount yourself when you take out the contract.
Similarly, it is essential to compare the annual reimbursement ceiling, generally between €1,000 and €2,000, above which your insurance will no longer consider your veterinary expenses.
Some mutual insurance companies offer a reduction in premiums of up to 10% from the second animal insured.
Finally, some pet insurance companies offer you the opportunity to take advantage of a collaborative bonus, which allows you to be reimbursed up to 50% of your contribution each year.
Pet insurance premiums start at an average of €12 per month. They can rise to 50 euros per month or more if the scope of coverage is broad. Generally, health insurance for dogs is more expensive than for cats.
The mutual insurance companies for our animals therefore offer cover for all budgets. Given the cost of veterinary procedures, the cost of these insurances is quickly recouped in the first few months after subscription.