Pet insurance – saving money by spending money

My pets

I have three wonderful cats, and they are indoor cats. As such, when I got the first two (Scruffy and Felix) I wondered whether I should get pet insurance or not, especially as a lot of people told me not to bother with pet insurance because being indoors, there was minimal opportunities for them to get injured. Like any insurance product, it is always a gamble. You might pay yout premiums for years and never claim on it and feel like it is “wasted” money. On the flip side, like me, you might end up taking out a lifetime policy in your pet’s first year and be forever grateful you did. I’m very pleased I ignored the “advice”.

Getting Scruffy & Felix

pet insurance allowed me to give both cats a great chance

As a responsible pet owner, just after getting them, as well as taking out insurance I took them to their first vet appointment. At this appointment Felix was found to have a very faint heart murmur. I was worried sick. When we returned a few weeks later for their vaccination, it had gone. He was given a clean bill of health. I was so relieved and therefore thought my days of worrying about their health was over, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I honestly cannot count the number of times I have took Scruffy to the vet in my first year of having her. It started with a cloudy looking eye and every time it has flared up we have gone back. At one point it was happening every couple of weeks, and they were no closer to finding out what it was. Each visit would cost a vet consultation fee, the fee for some tests to examine her eyes and usually some medication. She also ended up having an x-ray to rule out anything more sinister. This in turn needed to be looked at by a specialist as it wasn’t normal. She also had to have a range of blood tests which also involved an anaesthetic. The costs were adding up so quickly. Fortunately everything came back clear, and those costs (apart from my excess) were covered thanks to my insurance, Insurance meant that I didn’t have to try and find money for tests and I could give her the best care possible.

Felix

After having lived in my new house for a few months, I woke up on a Saturday morning to find Felix, who frankly is a food monster, not wanting to eat but he was vomiting too. I knew something was wrong, and immediately rushed him to the vets. The vet was very concerned – he was a lot sicker than I realised and I had to rush him to the emergency out of hours centre. The original vet felt there was something in his stomach causing problems. A scan at the emergency centre confirmed that there was nothing solid there, but that there was a major issue. He ended up in emergency surgery for intussusception (no I had never heard of it before). It is basically when the intestine folds in on itself like a telescope, usually because of some sort of obstruction. He had unknowingly eaten a little piece of plastic, and it had gotten stuck. The guilt was overwhelming, but pet insurance meant I could say crack on and do the surgery no matter what the scan said. His bills came to about £1,500, and thankfully my policy covered it as my policy pays up to £2,000. He has since made a full recovery!

Amalia

In 2018, having been in my new house for approaching a year, I decided to get a third cat. We had more space than we had ever had before and I definitely had more love to give. I found a cat through a local rescue, and although I didn’t want a cat who had health concerns, I fell in love. After home checks and thorough research, I took her home on the Sunday and called up to take out insurance on the Monday. As I did with Felix, I told the vet everything that I knew about her health, and I knew that would mean that certain things wouldn’t be covered, but nothing is worth committing insurance fraud over.

Thank goodness I did take out the insurance on day one, as there is a 2 week waiting period for new conditions to avoid people being dishonest. During that two weeks I mentioned to the vet (when I took her there to register) that she had a weepy eye, and so that is now not covered, but two and a half weeks later, when I was there about her eye, another condition was detected. To cut a very long story short, vets bills for this have now reached about £3,500! My policy for her only covers £2,000 and the rescue who I got her from were amazing and fundraised as much as they could to helo contribute towards the bills. I ended up having to find less than £1,000 myself, but that is not  a small amount of money.

Scruffy

Just after I got Amalia, and we were still trying to work out what the new condition was and what the treatment was likely going to end up being, Scruffy was taken ill. She was a little quieter than usual on the Thursday evening, but when I got back from work on Friday she was so listless she was almost unconscious. I rushed her straight to the vet, and unfortunately, she was incredibly sick. She was admitted to out vets on that Friday and on the Saturday I was asked to come and get her and transfer her to the specialists at the animal hospital. Due to pet insurance, I was able to tell them to try anything and everything, and so, when I got the call on the Monday night saying there was nothing else they could do and she had lymphoma, and was only going to deteriorate again, I could let her go with at least some level of peace in my heart and conscience. Yet again, the bills went over the policy limit, but I still had some savings from my move and so it was not a major problem. I would honestly have regretted it if I didn’t have the insurance to pay the vast majority of those bills and I was not able to give her the best chance possible. Her vets bills came to about £3,500 as well, so I had to pay about £1,500 – and this time I didn’t even get to bring the cat home, but at least I could sleep at night!

Cookie

Cookie is another rescue cat who I got a few months after we lost Scruffy, Nothing could ever replace her – she was such a special cat, and the first cat I ever fell in love with. The reasons for getting a third cat (we had lots of space and love) still stood and so after some soul searching I met Cookie. Cookie is another rescue cat. After my bad lucky with Amalia, the rescue paif for me to take her to the vets to get a clean bill of health. Unfortunately she was also diagnosed with a heart murmur, but a more serious one. After the money I had to find last year for Scruffy and Amalia’s vets bills, I was torn. I couldn’t really afford to take on more medical bills, but I already had her in my home and loved her! I now couldn’t insure any heart condition but she needed more investigations. I spoke in depth with the rescue and they are going to cover the bills for anything to do with her heart and are busy fundraising, but I have now insured her for anything and everything else. We are as yet unsure how much her vets bills for the investigations will come to, and another rescue or person would have lumbered me with it.

Bills bills bills

Whilst my vet feels that I have been incredibly unlucky, I wracked up close to £9,000 in vets bills in 2018. The vast majority of this was paid by the insurance company because I took out insurance and kept them informed. If my well loved and well looked after indoor cats can wrack up such bills, I dread to think what could happen if they were outdoor cats, or even if they got out. They could get run over by a car or attacked by a fox or other animal. There is no way I would be able to raise the kind of money that I would need to find in that situation if I didn’t have pet insurance.

I know people who’ve had vets bills in the hundreds or even thousands of pounds but who can’t afford to pay them. Some have even had to refuse certain treatments or investigations for their pet because they know there is no way of paying those bills. Sometimes people have even had to start a gofundme page or similar to pay for treatment bill. Some can’t raise the money and have to make a life or death choice. I don’t know what I would do if I was in that situation. Thankfully I have pet insurance and so I will never have to make that choice. I stupidly thought when I got the cats that pretty much anything that could happen to a cat could be fixed for less than £2,000 – how wrong I was. I’ve learnt a lot about pet insurance since being a cat owner, and on renewal I will be putting up their policies to a higher coverage limit just in case, and also because as they age there are more things that can go wrong.

Conclusion

I am shocked that my pet insurance company will still allow me to take out pet insurance after last year, but they do and for that I am very grateful. Even after Scruffy had lots of bills for her eyes, on renewal her policy only went up a few pence a month, and they are all under £10 per month per cat (around £8 I depending on age and history).  Bearinig in mind the amount of money I saved myself last year, this cost is minimal! This is not an affiliate link, but I use Animal Friends and have always had exceptional service and fast payouts. I cannot recommend them enough! I’ve even cried down the phone with them and they’ve been lovely.

Whether you go with them or someone else, I implore you to take out pet insurance if you have a pet. It will avoid hard, or even life or death decisions, and will help you financially if there is a problem. The last thing you need is having to get into debt by taking out loans or credit cards for your furry friend. I would even go so far to say that if you can’t afford pet insurance, you probably can’t afford the pet.

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