You will hear many insurance providers, claiming they offer ‘lifetime’ pet insurance… but what does this mean? And is it really worth the additional expense?

Lifetime insurance is an insurance policy which reinstates every year. By committing to one of these policies, you are committing to their insurance for the duration of your pet’s life. This means they will not contact you year on year in order to ask if you would like to renew your policy. It is done on an automatic basis. If you want it to end, you must cancel the policy. This may seem like you’re “trapped” with them – however, there are some serious advantages to consider.

No lapses in cover

An automatically renewing policy gives you extra security as you do not need to remember to renew. Nor do you need to respond to marketing emails in order to keep your insurance running. It will continue to do so in the background. And you don’t need to shop around!

But aren’t we supposed to shop around to find the best deals?

For most things, yes. But pet insurance is rather different. When you take out a lifetime policy your insurer is agreeing to insure your dog – for life – without restricting the cover. As they get older, the premiums will increase, but you will still get the same cover.

If you shop around and change policies, then any previous health conditions (even if you didn’t make a claim) can be used to refuse cover. Or, more likely, the insurer will apply exclusions. So, if your dog had an episode of vomiting once, they may “exclude” and refuse to cover any diseases of the stomach intestines – even if they aren’t apparently related.

With a lifetime policy, that doesn’t happen.

When is it best to start a policy?

Starting lifetime policies when your pet is young and has no known health conditions is a good idea as you are open to the best insurance policy deals. Securing a fixed cover for life at this stage could save you a lot of money in the future. Young pets more commonly have fewer health problems than older animals. Your lifetime policy will cover any veterinary bills accrued by your pet suffering from illness or injury, whilst you are insured with them.

Many lifetime pet insurance policies offer some sort of benefit should your pet pass away before a certain age. Although, if this is something you desire, be sure to check it is included in your policy.

Whilst lifetime pet insurance can be extremely thorough, there may be some things that they do not cover.

Factors to check for lifetime pet insurance policies:

  • Check if any restrictions come in as your pet gets older. Some pet insurances will have automatic limitations that come into place as your pet hits a certain age. This may sometimes mean that medical conditions that were covered before are no longer covered. 
  • Check whether your pet is covered if they travel abroad. If your pet travels abroad, their susceptibility to catch new, varied diseases increases. They will need extra vaccinations too. Some insurance policies will not cover illnesses that could have been caught whilst your pet was abroad; regardless of when your pet started to show clinical signs of the illness. This is because some diseases can lay dormant for a period of time. 
  • Check the range of conditions they will cover against, especially dental disease. Dental disease is extremely common and is normally a progressive disease which worsens throughout your pet’s life. Many insurance companies will only cover dental treatment if it is required due to an accident rather than due to dental disease. For example, during a road traffic accident, if many teeth are knocked loose and need removing under a general anaesthetic, this may be covered on your insurance because it is an accident. However, if your pet needed teeth removing due to dental disease, many insurance policies would not cover this. If your veterinary surgeon has written clinical records describing dental disease prior to your pet needing dental treatment due to an accident, this could void your insurance cover for the dental treatment.

Reasons why your ‘lifetime’ pet insurance may not pay out:

  • If you fail to declare a pre-existing health condition dating back to before the policy started, this will not be covered. You need to be completely honest when doing your application. 
  • If you miss your monthly payment.
  • Some policies have a ‘warm up’ period in which they will not pay out. This is normally 2-4 weeks long and is at the start of your insurance policy.

Overall, though, lifetime policies are a great idea, especially if you plan to insure your pet from a young age. They provide the most comprehensive cover you can get, and although the premiums are steep, it’s usually more cost effective in the long run than “chopping and changing” policies.

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