4/30/2019 12:00:00 AM
New figures confirm the value of pet insurance, with average premiums falling while vet bills are rising.
Pet insurers paid out a record £785m -- up £10m or 1.3% -- in 2018, driven by a significant increase in average claim size as the sophistication and cost of treatment rises, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.
The latest industry figures also reveal that more pets were covered than ever before, with nearly 4.3 million pets being protected last year.
Despite the average claim climbing by £36, or nearly 5%, to £793, average premiums were down slightly for the first time in eight years at £279 compared to £281 in the previous year. Over the past decade, the average claim has increased by 75%, while the average premium has only increased by 50%, the insurance body noted.
Recent payouts include a total of £7,300 to treat a French Bulldog that had fractured its leg. The ABI also cited a lifetime policy covering a Terrier which has had a number of treatments for a serious congenital lung disorder, with claims totalling more than £40,000.
Most pet insurance payouts in 2018 were to meet bills for veterinary treatment, but there were also claims for reimbursement after the theft of a pet, the cost of advertising to find a lost animal, and liability for when a pet damaged property or injured someone.
The ABI also highlighted what it called a "worrying level of under-insurance" among cat owners. There are around 7.5 million cats in UK homes, but only 1.3 million are insured, whereas 2.8 million dogs are insured out of an estimated population of 8.5 million.
Commenting on the figures, the ABI's senior policy adviser for pet insurance, Joe Ahern, said: "There is no NHS for animals, so if you've not got a pet policy in place -- you risk having to foot veterinary bills out of your own pocket. These can often be in the thousands of pounds and vet treatment is only getting more expensive, not less.
"It's promising to see the average premium coming down regardless of this trend and I'm pleased to see our members paying out more than ever before to protect the wellbeing of pets across the country."