Sunday, July 20, 2008

Insurance musings

Guardian Money has an article on breed-specific insurance premiums:

Axa, the insurance company that provides the policy (and which underwrites well over half a million pet policies sold by a wide range of partners, including the RSPCA, the Post Office and John Lewis's Greenbee) has this month introduced a "selected breeds" category: they are bulldogs, estrela mountain dogs, German shepherds (alsatian), great danes, greyhounds, Irish wolfhounds, leonbergers, Newfoundlands, old English sheepdogs, rottweilers, Pyrenean mountain dogs and St Bernards.

Thinking about it, I'm not surprised that most of these breeds are bad insurance risks, but a bit surprised by the inclusion of greyhounds; I can only think they've got a higher than normal risk of expensive, but survivable, "athletes" injuries, such as damaged cruciate ligaments (which can set you back £1k for a repair operation). Breeds like the cavaliers' heart problems or setters' retinal atrophy are a problem for the dog and owner, but not so much for the insurer, because there isn't a ruinously-expensive treatment option.

I'd second their advice to shop around - not only for better deals if you own one of the high-risk breeds, but, crucially, to make sure you get a policy which suits your financial circumstances. If you don't have savings or a credit card, it is absolutely essential to check that your insurer will either pay the vet direct or be prepared to pay you on the basis of an invoice from the vet which you have not yet paid. If you don't have a credit card, some policies are virtually useless if you are on a very low income, because they assume you will pay the vet and then claim the money back.

Pet insurance isn't the answer to all veterinary cost problems, but without it a lot more animals would have to be put to sleep, or have amputations rather than effective treatment.

Our own webshop offers some links to insurers who pay us commission, as does the national site. We are encouraging insurance in general, and no individual insurer will be right for everyone.

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