Pet insurance can be extremely useful should your pet need urgent, thorough medical treatment. Pet insurance works by the client paying a small, monthly fee and in return your insurance company pays out for larger, sudden bills. This helps as it is often much more affordable to pay a set, monthly fee compared to paying large, unpredictable bills. For this reason, we strongly advise you to insure your pet. But unfortunately, your monthly fee does not mean that you will receive all veterinary care for free. Below, I am going to discuss exclusions to insurance policies and what you should still expect to pay for. 

What is an exclusion?

An “Exclusion” is something that your insurance policy will not pay under any circumstances. And it will be written into the insurance agreement somewhere. This is one of the many reasons to “read the small print”! In general, there are 2 types of exclusion: General exclusions apply to all pets on a particular policy. Specific exclusions relate to your own pet.

General Exclusions

Routine check-ups are almost never included in your insurance policy. 

This means regular health checks and appointments, unless linked to a thorough case workup, will not be covered by your insurance. Nail clipping, flea and worming treatment, as well as grooming services are things you will need to pay for separately. These are often additional monthly fees. Whilst we recommend seeking professional veterinary advice regarding these products and services, you can purchase these services elsewhere. In addition, the cost for your vaccinations will not be covered. If you do not stay up to date with your vaccinations, often your insurance will become void. Therefore it is vital that you remain on top of your preventative healthcare. 

Routine surgery such as neutering, which includes castration and spaying, is not included in any insurance cover that we’re aware of. 

The fee for this procedure can vary greatly but most practices have set neutering fees. So you can enquire about this price prior to booking your pet in; allowing yourself to save up to pay for this procedure. The price of the surgery does not normally cover the price of aftercare, nor the price of treating the wound should it get infected. So be sure to budget in some extra money in case it is needed. 

There are some breeds not covered by any insurance policy because they are covered by parts of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. 

It is illegal to own certain breeds of dog within the United Kingdom. Therefore no insurance companies will insure these breeds of dog. These breeds include the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro. If you think you may own one of these breeds of dogs, you are obliged to contact the police by calling 101 for the non-emergency service.

Dental disease is very commonly not covered by pet insurance unless it is considered an accident. 

This differentiates progressive dental disease from dental treatment required due to facial trauma, for example from a road traffic collision. Progressive dental disease is seen as something that could have been prevented and therefore not covered by most insurance companies. If your pet has any previous dental diseases noted in the medical history then your insurance may not pay out, even if the dental is needed due to an accident.

This includes surgeries like a c-section. If you are considering breeding from your pet, you should do thorough research beforehand. Think about breeding dogs that can be born naturally by matching parent dogs of similar sizes and suitable breeds together. Canine artificial insemination needs to be performed in a specific manner and, if performed incorrectly, could lead to health issues. If you are planning to breed from your dog, you will need to take out a specific breeding insurance policy. These are usually expensive because of the higher than average risk of complications or disease in breeding dogs.

Some procedures are illegal or considered unethical in the United Kingdom for welfare reasons. 

This includes surgeries such as cropping the ears or inserting prosthetic testicles. These are procedures performed for aesthetic reasons only and provide no proven health benefits to the animal. They will therefore not be covered by insurance. 

For different reasons, kidney transplants will not be covered, as they are considered an unethical procedure. It is not in fact lawful for your vet to perform one. Read more about unethical procedures here.

Specific Exclusions

These aren’t things that are always banned in the policy, but are conditions or, in some cases, body parts, that are not covered under the policy because of your pet’s medical history.

For example, if your pet has a history of dental disease, or gastrointestinal disease, before you took out the policy (or in the first 14 days or so of the policy), these conditions would not be covered going forwards. Some insurers will even completely rule out cover for any disease or condition of, say, the mouth or intestinal tract following such a history. 

If you have taken out a lifetime policy, in most cases, conditions that develop after you have taken out the policy (and after the 14 day “cooling off period”) will still be covered. But if you want to change policy to another company, you may well find that these conditions are excluded. And if you have taken out a cheaper Annual policy, they may be excluded when you come to renew.

Always read the small print!

Insurance companies will commonly pay for many conditions and treatments, but you should always read your terms and conditions thoroughly before signing up to a monthly fee. Talk to your insurance policy provider and ensure you know the best way to contact them so you can speak to them in the need of an emergency. Our final tip is to be extremely honest when submitting your application for an insurance policy. Be honest about your pet’s health, breed and medical records!

You might also be interested in: