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The secret language of cat health insurance

The secret language of cat health insurance
by Morven Hamilton

Read time: 4 min

Every hardcore cat parent knows: if you’re looking out for your cat’s health, you’ve got to plan for the future. You need to know that if anything happens, you can afford to give them the best health care. And that means getting them insured. 

But the world of pet insurance can be difficult to understand. Sometimes it feels like it’s written to trip you up. And if you don’t know what you’re buying, it can come back to bite you later. 

So, if you need help to speak the language of cat health insurance, look no further. Here’s our guide to the essential cat insurance terms you need to know:

Key terms to know

Accident-only

Exactly how it sounds: this basic form of insurance will only cover for accidental injuries, not illnesses. In most cases, it’ll only pay for those injuries for up to 12 months. 

Excess  

This is how much you’ll pay if something happens to your cat. If you have a £100 excess, you pay the first £100 of the vet bill, and your insurance provider  pays the rest. 

Exclusion

Something that your insurance won’t cover. That could be a pre-existing condition, or a requirement you have to meet. For instance, they might say your cat has to be vaccinated, and they won’t cover any illness your cat catches if you don’t vaccinate them. 

Inner limits

The limit to how much you can claim per illness. Your insurance might cover your cat up to £10,000 a year, but only £2,000 per illness.

Pre-existing or existing conditions

Illnesses or injuries your cat’s had in the past, before your insurance started. These often won’t be covered.

Premium

How much you pay to your insurer per month, or per year, depending on your policy. 

Wait period

A set time, usually two weeks, after you start your insurance but you can’t claim yet.

Lifetime insurance vs. Annual insurance
What’s the deal?

Other than the accident-only basic policy we mentioned above, there are two main kinds of cat health insurance to be aware of: lifetime insurance and annual insurance. But what do they both mean?

Lifetime insurance means:

  • It covers both injuries and illnesses

  • It lasts for your cat’s whole life if you renew each year

  • It continues to cover all conditions in your cat’s life

  • It tends to be a more expensive premium

  • You need to stay with the same insurer year on year to benefit

Annual insurance means:

  • It covers both injuries and illnesses

  • It only covers one year

  • Conditions your cat had this year won’t be covered if you need to claim next year

  • It's cheaper but may cost more in vet bills

  • You can move providers to get the best deal

Is a vet wellness plan the same as insurance?

Sometimes, your vet can offer you a monthly or annual scheme – usually known as a wellness plan – to cover the routine care your cat needs to stay healthy and well-groomed.

What’s included in a wellness plan will depend on the specific vet practice, but usually it means that things like annual check-ups, vaccinations, monthly flea and worming, and nail trimming are all covered by a small monthly payment, rather than you having to pay at each visit. Check with your vet to see what’s covered at your practice.

What’s important to note though is that wellness plans aren’t insurance – they only cover routine care and maintenance. If your cat needs treatment for an illness or injury, your wellness plan won’t cover it and you’ll have to pay. Some vets do offer small discounts on treatment and surgery if you’re on their wellness plan, but they won’t waive the fees entirely. So, it’s best to have insurance as well, to cover emergencies.

Our top tips for choosing cat insurance

1. Shop around

Use a market comparison site and compare the deals to get what’s best for you and your cat.

2. Look out for the small print

Be sure you understand your policy. Inner limits in particular can be tricky, so refer to our glossary if you need to. 

3. Get insured as soon as you can

If you put it off, and then your cat unexpectedly needs a vet trip, you’ll kick yourself. 

4. Ask the Club House

The KatKin Club House is full of hardcore cat parents who’ll share their experiences. Why not start here? Remember though that your policy will be personal to you, so make sure you’re happy.

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