Senior Dog Life Insurance...

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Senior Dog Life Insurance

From illnesses to accidents, as your faithful friend gets older it can be difficult to predict what their future needs will be. That’s why choosing the right senior dog life insurance is so critical - here’s how!

Pet care can get expensive as dogs get older but senior dog life insurance can provide significant help towards many of the costs involved in treatment. What’s more, a good pet insurance policy will provide many other benefits besides.

So, let’s take a look at what’s on offer when it comes to senior dog life insurance.

What sort of pet insurance policy do I need for a senior dog?

As a dog ages their health needs change, medical problems become more likely and the risk for insurers increases. That’s why some insurers restrict new policies to younger dogs, but we don’t think that’s fair.

Senior dog insurance specialists like Petwise are experienced at taking a whole range of factors into account when arriving at an insurance quote that’s right for you and your pooch.

This information can include:

  • The breed of dog – crossbreeds are usually cheaper to insure than pedigrees.
  • The age of the dog.
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions that might be excluded.
  • Where you live.
  • Whether you’ve chosen lifetime insurance, accident-only, time-limited or a full benefit policy.
  • The level of excess.
  • Your insurance claims history.

There really is no one-policy-fits-all approach and when it comes to arranging insurance for your senior dog, you have a variety of options.

These could cover certain health conditions of the breed, common dental problems suffered by some senior dogs, and even coverage for lost animals – a particular problem for those suffering from cognitive decline.

How old is a senior pet for senior pet insurance cover purposes?

What age is a dog classed as a ‘senior’ for the purposes of dog insurance? That’s a common question asked by pet owners who are looking for specialist senior pet insurance.

But there’s really no one comprehensive answer. It just depends on factors such as the dog’s size, breed and lifestyle.

In general, when it comes to pet insurance for older dogs, insurers typically class dogs as ‘old’, ‘older’ or ‘senior’ at around the age of eight years old. This can vary though, both according to the breed and the insurance provider.

For example, at Petwise we provide senior pet insurance for pets seven years and older.

Overall, current research shows the average life expectancy at birth for UK companion dogs is 11.2 years. But some breeds live for shorter periods and some for longer. So, the age at which they’re considered senior will vary.

For example, some large breeds such as the Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog have a typical life expectancy of between 6 and 8 years. So some insurance providers class these breeds as ‘senior’ from as young as 5 years of age.

Likewise, long-lived Miniature Poodles that commonly live into their teens, may – in pet insurance terms – be assessed as a senior at a much later age.

Pet insurance options – from accident-only to lifetime cover for your pet

In general, there are four main types of pet insurance for older dogs for you to choose from.

1. Accident-only insurance

The most basic and affordable level of pet insurance cover for your dog or other pet. An accident-only pet insurance policy only covers vets’ fees and other expenses if your pet is involved in an accident.

If your dog becomes ill or develops another health problem then it won’t be covered by this type of insurance. It often won’t offer other additional benefits either.

What’s more, this type of insurance policy usually has a maximum annual pay-out for each accidental injury. So, you’ll only be able to claim a finite amount for each accident, each year.

There may also be a lifetime cap per accident. So once that limit is exceeded, you’ll have to pay all future treatment costs yourself.

The policies are usually only suited to those with much younger dogs or who are on a very tight budget. That said, while an owner may initially save money with this form of insurance, you may eventually have to put other savings aside to help with treatment.

2. Time-limited pet insurance

More expensive than accident-only insurance, a time-limited pet insurance policy will cover you for treatment costs arising from both accidents and illnesses. However, as the name suggests, this policy will only be effective for a set time period – usually 12 months – and have a claim limit for each condition or accident.

There may also be a combined pay-out limit across all conditions. So, once you’ve reached this limit for the year (whether through illnesses or accidents), you can’t make any more claims until the pet insurance is renewed.

With older pets more susceptible to recurring health problems, think carefully about taking out a time-limited pet insurance policy. Once you’ve reached your annual claims limit early in the year, then you’ll have to find the money for any further treatments that year from out of your own pocket.

Petwise time-limited pet insurance also covers third party liability. A valuable benefit indeed, and one not always included in such policies.

3. Maximum benefit pet insurance.

A maximum benefit pet insurance policy will cover treatment costs up to a specified limit, for each illness or injury, provided you stay with the same insurance provider. Unlike other insurance policies, this isn’t renewed annually, but rather it’s a lump sum paid for the duration of your pet’s lifetime.

So, once you reach the maximum claim threshold for a particular accident or illness, you’ll have to pay for any further treatment yourself. This is sometimes seen as a good mid-priced option.

Be aware, pre-existing conditions won’t be covered by this insurance policy.

4. Lifetime pet insurance

Lifetime pet insurance is certainly the most comprehensive older dog insurance policy you’ll find on the market. It really is the gold standard by which to measure all other senior dog insurance cover.

While it will cost a bit more than the other three policy options, the amount of cover you receive from lifetime insurance is much more generous. If you opt for this policy then your dog will receive continuous cover across their lifetime, up to an annual limit for each medical condition. And this resets every year on renewal.

Be warned, the earlier in your dog’s life you take out lifetime insurance cover the better. A lifetime pet insurance policy will not provide cover for any health conditions that have already been diagnosed before you begin the policy.

So, it’s much better to start lifetime insurance early in your pet’s life, when they are young and fit and have few or no medical conditions.

A further benefit of lifetime pet insurance from Petwise is that it includes third party cover. Meaning you’ll be covered in the event that your dog causes damage or injury to someone else or their property.

Petwise’s Lifetime insurance products have been awarded a 5* rating by Defaqto. Remember to check out our TrustPilot reviews, too, to see what other customers say about our cover.

Dog insurance cover levels overview

Other features to look for in older pet insurance cover for older dogs

Older dog insurance from Petwise can help you keep your dog fit and healthy right into old age. The pet insurance policies we offer have been developed specially to meet the needs of older dogs.

As well as covering the vet fees to deal with health problems and emergencies, there’s a range of other policy benefits, too. These include:

  • Award winning insurance. At Petwise all out Lifetime insurance products are 5* rated by Defaqto.
  • Senior food contribution lets you claim up to £25 per insurance period towards your specially formulated senior dog’s food.
  • No upper joining age limit, dogs of all ages over seven years old are welcome.
  • Dental cover as standard.
  • Direct payment to vets, saving you the hassle and inconvenience of having to cover the cost yourself on the day.
  • No co-payment excess applied.
  • 24/7 Vet Video consultations with our fully qualified veterinary professionals.
  • Farewell cover to contribute towards the financial costs at this painful time.
  • Bereavement helpline to provide round-the-clock, professional, confidential support and understanding when your dog’s life comes to an end.
  • Compensation for loss by theft or straying. Our senior dogs pet insurance policies can also cover the costs of advertising and reward in these circumstances.
  • Compensation for death from illness or accident.
  • Emergency boarding fees if you become ill and are unable to look after your dog.
  • Holiday cancellation compensation if you need to cancel your holiday to look after them.
  • Overseas treatment costs for when you take your faithful family friend on holiday with you.

Common health conditions in older dogs and why you should insure them with senior dog life insurance

Just like their human owners, senior dogs can be prone to a number of health conditions. Many of these can be resolved or improved with vet care, so be sure to arrange pet insurance before it’s too late.

Common health conditions in older dogs include:

  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Deafness
  • Dental problems
  • Lameness
  • Blindness
  • Dementia and cognitive problems
  • Cancer
  • Tumours and growths
  • Incontinence
  • Obesity

Having spent so many years with your senior pet you’re best placed to pick up on any physical changes that could be an early indication of a medical problem.

For example, be on the lookout for warning signs such as weight changes, bad breath, tiredness, breathing problems, changes in toilet habits or being unsteady on their feet. All of which can be a sign that something could be amiss.

Pedigree dogs in particular can be susceptible to health problems as they age. So, when it comes to older pedigree dogs, pet insurance really is vital. 

Common exclusions in a senior dog insurance policy

Most pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions. So, policies taken out after the illness or injury has developed often won’t cover treatment.

However, Petwise stands out from the competition in that our policies can cover pre-existing conditions if your pet hasn’t required treatment for them for two years. When you’re shopping around for specialist pet insurance, be careful as each insurer will have their own list of particular pre-existing conditions that are and are not covered.

So, if your older dog suffers from a particular condition, then check carefully to see whether it’s on the list in your policy document. If in doubt, give your pet insurance provider a call to check.

Apart from pre-existing conditions, other common exclusions include:

  • Some administrative charges, such as vet fees for completing forms.
  • Routine, elective or preventative treatments such as spaying or neutering, worming and pregnancy.
  • Certain breeds.
  • Dangerous or aggressive dogs.
  • Some insurers also won’t cover illness or injury that begins within the first couple of weeks of your pet insurance policy.

How much does older pet insurance cost?

How much you’ll pay for older pet insurance depends on a whole variety of factors. So, the best way to get an accurate idea of how much pet insurance will cost you is to contact an older dog insurance specialist like Petwise and get a quote.

When you contact insurers for pet insurance quotes for your dog, they will want to know the age, breed, size and general health of your pet. They’ll also want to know other relevant information about you, such as what area you live in. The type of policy you go for will also make a difference.

Older pet insurance can be more expensive than standard pet insurance. But when you take into account the potential treatment costs and additional benefits it really is great value.

It’s also much more financially manageable to have a regular sum coming out of your bank account, rather than a large, surprise vet’s bill! Yet another benefit that insurance can bring.

A good idea is to consult your vet or visit the Kennel Club website to find out if there are any health conditions that most commonly affect your dog breed. And the costs typically associated with their treatment. You can then weigh these expenses against the costs of pet insurance.

Read more older dog insurance guides and articles from Petwise

Petwise has plenty of interesting articles offering advice and guidance on a whole range of topics interesting to owners of senior pets.

From how to cut the cost of pet ownership and 22 facts about heart problems in dogs to top tips on keeping your older dog cool in the summer, you’re bound to learn something new that will help your faithful friend.

When you’re next considering a quote for senior dog life insurance, take the time to read up on some of these issues.

Then just visit the insurance specialists at Petwise for an instant quote. Make sure your older dog gets the care they deserve in later life.

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