Soaring pet insurance premiums are a concern for one in five policyholders – with some dog and cat lovers forking out more than £1,000 a year to protect their furry friends, a Which? survey has found.
A survey of more than 1,100 Which? members that own pet insurance found the average price they were paying for an annual lifetime policy was £420 a year for dogs and £264 for cats – with dozens of policyholders spending over £1,000 for cover.
There has been a surge in people buying pets during the coronavirus crisis, but only around half of new pets have been insured, according to Consumer Intelligence data.
When Which? asked what the owners’ biggest insurance gripes were, price-related matters came top – with one in five (19%) experiencing 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 percent of them making two or more claims. A quarter (24%) had claimed for their cat.
Of 478 pet owners Which? additionally surveyed that did not have cover, one in five (22%) felt it was not worth having, while nearly half (46%) thought it was too expensive.
Most funded vet treatment out of their own pocket while some 16 per cent 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 10-12 year-old pets were paying 80 per cent more, on average, than those with dogs under four. Owners of older cats were paying similarly more – with 10-12 year-old cats around 76 per cent more expensive to insure than 0-3 year-old cats.
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 per cent believing their policy to be “reasonably priced”. Only 37 per cent 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.”
Notes to editors:
Customer Score: We asked 1,194 customers to tell us how satisfied they were with their insurance provider and how likely they would be to recommend it. Ratings derived from answers to these questions were combined and used to generate a Customer Score.
Full pet insurance ratings will be available from 00:01 on 21 December 2020 at http://www.which.co.uk/pet-insurance
Table: The chart shows the median of the most recent premium paid over the last year by 632 dog owners and 343 cat owners. There were not enough participants with a dog aged 13+ to provide a valid figure for that age group.
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