As your dog gets old, it’s likely that visits to the vet are going to become more common as he or she becomes more likely to be involved in an accident or get sick. Just like us humans, dogs get frailer and more prone to illness as they age.
My wife and I would never consider not insuring our dog, no matter what their age. But is pet insurance worth it for older dogs?
Vet bills become more common and costly as your dog gets older. Research shows that dog owners are three times as likely to use pet insurance than car insurance due to the frequency it’s needed. If you love your dog, pet insurance is definitely worth it.
Why you should insure an older dog
Whilst pet insurance might not sound like one of life’s essentials, if you own a dog, love him or her, and want to be protected against large vet bills, it’s critical you have a good policy.
In fact, recent research by Saga found that their customers are more likely to claim on a pet insurance policy than they are on their motor insurance.
The research also found that people aged fifty and over are more likely to be a dog owner, but actually less likely to have it properly insured. Only 1 in 3 of their correspondents are currently insuring their dog.
That’s a really unwise decision, as vet bills are rising year on year. For older dogs, visits to the vet are going to be far more regular.
Vet costs are increasing year on year
Here’s are some statistics from the Society for Practising Veterinary Surgeons who surveyed vet practices in the UK to see how costs have increased in the last 12 months:
- 76% of vet practices have increased their fees
- Routine procedure costs have increased by 3.3%
- Dental treatment costs in older dogs and cats have increased by 17.5%
To back this research up, we also found that The Association of British Insurers published data suggesting that the average pet insurance claim was also rising to £679.
The most simple and routine procedures which your older dog might need could run into the hundreds of pounds.
What vet treatment could cost
If your older dog isn’t insured and they need vet treatment, then it’s something that you will have to pay for from your own pocket. The unthinkable alternative would be to have your pet put down. But even that will have a cost attached to it.
Here are some typical vet costs that an older dog might incur (Source: MoreThan, 2015 claims figures):
- Eye injury – £291
- Gastrointestinal – £358
- Head injuries – £669
- Hip dysplasia – £4,000
- Joint injuries – £452
- Skin conditions – £204
- Spinal injuries – £686
- Tumours – £433
- Urinary – £280
And older dogs are also susceptible to cancers, just like we are as we get older. It’s not unusual for cancer treatment to cost in excess of £10,000 as vets will need to administer chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Current UK estimates show that 1 in 3 dogs will develop cancer at some point in their lives, most likely as they get older. And in fact, some breeds are more prone to developing cancers than others (which we recently blogged about).
You can insure an older dog against cancer, but as long as it’s a pre-existing condition.
Can you get pet insurance for older dogs?
Yes, you can get pet insurance for older dogs.
But there are some pet insurance companies who won’t offer a policy on dogs that are older than 7 years old.
The reason being; they know that an older dog is more likely to cost them in terms of vet bills for illness and accident.
There are some pet insurance companies who are better than others when it comes to older dogs. You might have to pay more in premiums, but for the money that you are likely to incur in vet bills, it’s a policy worth having.
What is the best pet insurance for an older dog?
We have reviewed and rated the best pet insurance companies suitable for older dogs. You can see who we recommend elsewhere on our website, plus our reasons for doing so.
If you want to make your own mind up, then here are a few things that we recommend you look out for when buying dog insurance.
Accident only cover
As you would expect, this will only cover your dog if it is involved in an accident. It’s the cheapest dog insurance possible but won’t cover you for the illnesses and conditions that are more common as your dog gets older.
Annual cover only
This will give you coverage for illness and accidents but means the insurance company will only pay for 12 months maximum of treatment.
Once the 12 months is over, any illness treated in the previous year will now become known as a “pre-existing” condition.
That is really not worth having if your dog is older. For example, let’s say he developed a cancer in year one of your policy, when it moves into year two after renewal, the cancer will then be viewed as pre-existing, meaning your dog’s cancer treatment won’t be covered!
Another aspect which dog owners sometimes fail to understand with annual cover is that it can sometimes have a maximum payout amount during the 12 months, leaving you with a potential shortfall to pay for in vet bills.
Individual condition cover
With this type of insurance policy, you will be set limits on the amount that will payout for each type of illness and condition (here’s a list of possible health conditions).
Some policies will also have terms and conditions around the excess charges for each condition. That means should you also be claiming against the condition in the second year, you could have to pay another excess charge.
By far the most sensible, albeit costly dog insurance, is lifetime cover.
For older dogs it will offer continuous coverage over the lifetime of your pet, with maximum annual limits on claims being reset with each policy term renewal.
It’s our recommendation as the most worthwhile pet insurance for older dogs, and you can see which companies we currently recommend in our comparison tables.
The last word
By insuring your older dog you can mitigate a lot of vet bills that are more likely than not to occur as your four-legged friend reaches his or her later years.
Be prepared to pay more though, as insurance company premiums are increased the older your pet dog gets.
Also, be aware that if you do claim, your policy renewal will probably more expensive due to the claims you have historically made.
But, if you love your dog and he’s part of your family, pet insurance is definitely worth it.