What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance helps protect your pets and guard against unexpected vet bills when they need treatment. Some policies will help with costs when your cat or dog gets stolen, goes missing, or dies.
The benefits of pet cover and the price of pet insurance depends on the type and cover you choose to insure your dog, cat or other small pet.
What pet insurance covers
In addition to vet fees, other benefits will depend on the level of cover you choose. Insurance for pets typically covers the following:
- Death by accident or illness: If your pet dies before a certain age your insurer will pay up to €1,000. Age limits depend on animal type.
- Injury and illness treatments: including surgery, prescription drugs, and medical tests.
- Searching for missing pets: This covers the cost of putting up posters or offering a reward if your cat or dog is lost or stolen.
- Third-party liability: This only applies to dog insurance policies and typically covers damage or injury caused up to €250,000.
- Holiday cancellation: This covers the cost of cutting short your holiday if your pet falls ill.
- Emergency kennel or cattery costs: This covers the cost of emergency boarding fees for your dogs and cats if you are hospitalised.
Many pet insurers offer a choice of plans, ranging from basic to premium. The type of plan you choose will affect the price you pay per month, so the more benefits you need, the more it will cost you.
Always check your policy carefully before buying because there may be exclusions, especially with cheaper plans.
What animals does pet insurance cover?
Almost all pet insurers in Ireland offer both dog insurance and cat insurance.
You can also get cover for rabbits, horses, birds, or exotic pets, but your choice of insurer will be more limited.
Does pet insurance cover dental treatment?
Emergency dental treatment is sometimes covered, however, insurers may stipulate that your pet has had a health check within the last 12 months. It is advisable to read the terms and conditions carefully.
How much does pet insurance cost in Ireland?
The price of your policy depends on the:
- level of cover you choose
- breed of your dog or cat
- age of your pet
- health of your pet
The average cost of pet insurance in Ireland is around €16 per month. However, monthly premiums for pet insurance can be as little as €8 or over €30 per month.
The age, health, and breed of your pet, plus the level of cover you choose will all affect your pet insurance quote so it’s worth shopping around to find the best cover.
Types of pet insurance
There are different types of pet insurance policies for your dogs and cats.
Types of cover for your pets
The type of policy will affect how comprehensively you are covered.
- Lifetime cover: This means the insurer does not limit either the amount you can claim or the length of time you can claim for a specific condition.
- Accident Only: This is often the cheapest policy available and covers any treatment your pet may need after an accident.
- Annual cover or Time-limited cover: This only protects your pet for 12 months. Any conditions that occur after that period will not be covered. This is a good choice if your pet has a time-limited illness or injury.
Most policy types and levels of cover offer third-party liability for dogs and it’s likely you will have to pay a policy excess on some claims.
Pet insurance doesn’t cover preventative treatments such as the cost of check-ups, vaccinations, worming, flea control or neutering.
What does third-party liability mean?
Third-party insurance covers you if you become liable for damage or injury caused by your pet. Cover can pay up to €250,000. This is only available for dogs and exclusions may apply.
What is a policy excess?
The excess is the amount you have to contribute before the insurer pays out, much like home insurance. It is typically about €100 for standard claims and €350 for third-party liability.
Can pets with pre-existing conditions get insured?
Yes, you can still insure your pet, but insurance providers won’t cover treatment for the pre-existing condition. For example, if your dog has diabetes - you will not be covered for any illness caused by complications of diabetes.
Tips to get the best pet insurance
The best pet insurance is the one that protects your pet, offers peace of mind and suits your budget.
Choose the right amount of cover
Vet fees are typically covered up to €4,000 per year in Ireland. Cheaper Accident Only plans tend to cover up to €2,000.
The amount of cover you need will depend on how much protection your pet needs. The following factors can help you decide.
- Age: The older your pet, the more likely it is that frequent vet care will be needed.
- Health: If your pet is prone to illness, there is a high chance it will need vet care in the future.
- Breed: A pedigree breed or an exotic pet may need specialised or more frequent vet care.
The level of cover you choose will affect the price of your monthly premium.
Watch Charles Cosgrave of Village Vets give his expert view on pet insurance and what you need to know before buying.
Check for policy exclusions
This will depend on the type of pet insurance policy you choose. Most insurers will not cover the cost of the following:
- Routine and preventative treatments including vaccinations, worming, and de-fleaing
- Pre-existing illness or injury including chronic or historic illnesses
- Pregnancy and birth including treatment of complications or their offspring
- Dogs registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act
- Pets under 8 weeks old including puppies and kittens
It is advised that you read the terms and conditions of your policy document carefully to check you’re covered for what you need.
How to get the cheapest pet insurance quote
The cheapest pet insurance may not always be the best cover for your pet, nevertheless, it’s worth shopping around to get the best price.
There are other things you can do to secure a cheaper pet insurance quote including:
- Microchip your dog or cat
- Look out for multiple pet discounts
- Buy your policy online
- Pay in one instalment rather than monthly
- Consider a Lifetime policy it could save you money in the long run
- Use a comparison website to compare policies and prices
Where to buy cat and dog insurance
There are several pet insurance providers in Ireland. Here’s a list to help you compare quotes and get the best cover for your pet.
When will cover start after buying pet insurance?
After purchasing a policy you will be excluded from claiming for illness for 14 days or 48 hours for accident or injury. You will be fully covered after this time.
Is pet insurance worth it?
If you shop around for the best-priced policy that fits your needs, insurance for dogs and cats could save you money if your pet is injured, falls ill, or goes missing. Just remember to read the terms & conditions carefully and check for exclusions.
Pet Insurance FAQs
Can I insure a cat or dog with hereditary or congenital conditions?
Policies do not normally cover conditions or diseases your pet was born with.
Can I insure an older pet?
Pet insurance in Ireland is typically available for cats and dogs between 8 weeks old and six years of age. However, Lifetime plans may cover your cat or dog beyond six years if you renew your policy continuously from an earlier age.
Does dog insurance or cat insurance cover damage to my furniture?
No, if your pet damages your furniture this isn’t usually covered by a pet insurance policy. It may, however, be included in a comprehensive contents insurance policy.
Does pet insurance cover complementary treatments?
Yes, some insurers do offer cover for complementary therapies such as homeopathy or osteopathy, but you should always check this is the case. Any treatment would have to be carried out by your vet and terms and conditions will apply.
How can I trust my insurance provider?
Pet insurance providers should be regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, so check the fine print for evidence.
Is my pet covered for foreign travel?
Some premium plans may cover your dog abroad, but check for exclusions. Insurers rarely offer travel insurance for your pet.
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