Everything you need to know about senior pet insurance

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P

ets are a bit like their owners. The older they get, the more likely they are to develop a health problem or potentially suffer an injury that requires treatment.

In the case of our furry companions, the onset of old age makes it increasingly difficult to purchase pet insurance. Even when possible, premiums are likely to be higher because an insurer assesses the risks associated with an aging animal.

What counts as an older pet?

This will vary depending on both the type of animal concerned, as well as the insurer. Most insurers classify cats and dogs as “old” after they are eight years old. Rabbits are considered to be five years old, while horses are not classified as such until they are 15 years old.

Why is the age of my pet important?

Just like humans, animals are more prone to disease and illness as they age. Hearing and sight deteriorate, while muscle tone is often lost.

Many animals also get arthritis as they age. Other common conditions that plague senior cats and dogs include:

  • Diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • deafness
  • Cancer
  • arthritis
  • kidney disease
  • periodontitis
  • dementia.

Dogs are also more likely to suffer from blindness, while cats can suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) as well as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

Types of senior pet insurance

There are four main types of pet insurance policies. These offer different levels of coverage and can be tailored to suit different budget requirements.

‘Accident-only’ is the cheapest and most basic type of insurance. This covers veterinary costs if your pet has an accident. However, he will not pay for treatment related to an illness.

With this version of coverage, there will generally be a maximum payment for each injury, per year. Some policies also impose a period of 12 months from the date of the first treatment. After this point, you will no longer be able to claim that particular injury.

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Time limit

Next is “time-limited” coverage where each condition is covered for up to 12 months from the date of first treatment, assuming the policy is renewed with the same provider.

This means that if you make a claim six months after the start of your policy, you will be covered for that particular condition (up to a fixed amount) for the remaining six months of your current policy and the first six months of your next policy. .

Once these 12 months have elapsed or if you reach the fixed amount, your pet will no longer be covered for that particular illness or condition. For this reason, limited-term policies won’t be the best option for older pets with a persistent health problem.

Maximum impact

Maximum benefit policies provide a fixed amount of money for each illness or injury for as long as the money lasts, provided the policy remains in force.

The benefit of this is that if your older pet develops a health problem, you can claim as many times as you need – until the pot of money runs out.

The downside is that once you hit the claim limit, you will have to pay for any additional treatment for this condition out of pocket.

The opportunity of a lifetime

Lifetime pet insurance typically offers an annual limit per condition that resets each year when you renew your policy. Because it offers continuous full coverage (as long as the policy is renewed), it may be a more suitable option for older pets. It is also the most expensive type of font.

Pre-existing conditions that already affect your pet will generally not be covered. Check the fine print of the policy to be sure.

Consider purchasing this type of coverage when your pet is young, before he has been diagnosed with any medical conditions. This will ensure that your pet is covered for any conditions that they develop as they age.

What does insurance for older pets cover?

In addition to covering veterinary costs, your pet insurance policy may also cover you for:

  • loss or theft of your pet
  • liability charges if your pet causes injury or damages someone’s property
  • vacation cancellation coverage if you have to cancel your trip because your pet needs emergency treatment
  • cattery or kennel costs if you separate from your pet because, for example, you have to stay in the hospital

Some policies may also include bereavement counseling and alternative treatments such as physiotherapy, for example.

Many pet insurance policies won’t pay for an older pet dying from illness, but they can pay if an older pet dies from an accident. .

What else should you watch out for?

In addition to checking your policy’s coverage levels, you should also check the deductible. This is the amount you have to pay to cover the cost of any claims before the insurer steps in and it usually increases as your pet gets older.

You may also have to pay a percentage of the cost of the claim yourself, known as coinsurance or co-pay. This is usually 10% or 20% of the value of the claim. Always check the details before you start paying premiums in a policy.

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