Health insurance for senior dogs Health insurance for senior dogs Health insurance for senior dogs
Health insurance for senior dogs...
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Health insurance for senior dogs

Insurance is an important part of life with a pet.

From illnesses to accidents, it can be difficult to predict what treatments your pet may need across the course of their lifetime, and many of these treatments can be expensive. 

Pet insurance can be useful here, as it can make significant contributions towards the costs of these treatments.

What’s more, a good insurance policy can have many other benefits beside this – and, a little further down this article, we’ll look at some of the benefits featured in our insurance policies here at Petwise.

You’ll find that we offer various features that can help you to look after your beloved pet in old age.

First, though, let’s examine in a little more detail what insurance options you have for your senior dog. 

What sort of health insurance do I need for an older dog?

When it comes to arranging insurance for your senior dog, you have a variety of options.

What’s more, deciding which insurance type to choose will come down to a variety of factors.

It will depend on whether you have been providing insurance for your dog from early on in their life. 

The particular health profile of your dog’s breed will also be a factor: some breeds are much more prone to certain health conditions than others.

For example, a Dachshund’s long back and short legs will leave it more prone to back and hip problems than many other breeds, while a German Shepherd’s large size and deep chest make them susceptible to bloat. 

You may wish to find a policy that includes dental work as some dogs can suffer with dental problems later in life.

You may also want a policy that covers lost animals as older dogs may have problems with recall, especially if they’re suffering from a cognitive condition like doggy dementia.

Insurance: your options

Essentially, there are four types of pet insurance. Let’s take a look at these, and the pros and cons of each form, now.

We’re going to start with (typically) the cheapest form of insurance, and work our way up. 

Accident-only insurance is the most basic and affordable form of pet insurance you can get, for a dog or other pet.

How does it work? Well, if you take out an accident-only insurance policy you will be covered for vets’ fees, and other expenses – but, as the name suggests, only in the event of your pet suffering an accident.

This means that the treatment of illnesses or other health problems is not covered by this type of insurance.

So, although you will initially save money with this form of insurance, you may well find that you’ll need to put other savings aside to help with treatment. 

What’s more, with this type of insurance policy, each claim (for treatment for a particular accident) will have a maximum cap per year – so you will only be able to claim a finite amount for each accident, each year.

Some accident-only insurance policies may also have a lifetime cap per accident, meaning that you could risk eventually exceeding that cap for a given accident and having to pay all future treatment costs yourself.

Slightly more expensive than accident-only cover, but featuring more benefits, is our next insurance type, time-limited pet insurance.

Unlike accident-only insurance, this type of policy will cover you against treatment costs for both accidents and illnesses.

There will, however, be a set time period – typically a year – and a claim limit for each condition or scenario. 

Note, also, that time-limited insurance can often come with a combined payout limit across all conditions.

So, to put that in real-world terms, once you had reached this limit across all your claims for that year (whether through illnesses or accidents), you would be entitled to no more claims until the pet insurance was next up for renewal.

With health problems more prevalent in an older dog, you may find that you quickly reach your annual claims limit, and have to find the funds for any further treatments that year from out of your own pocket. 

Other types of pet insurance cover

There are a couple of other forms of dogs’ pet insurance cover to tell you about. Next up is maximum benefit insurance. 

This particular pet insurance policy will pay out up to a specified limit, for each illness or injury, while you remain with that same insurance provider.

This type of insurance isn’t renewed annually: rather, it’s a lump sum paid for the duration of your pet’s lifetime.

As above (though, this time, on a lifetime rather than annual basis), once you reach your claim threshold for a particular accident or illness, you will need to fund any further treatments yourself. 

Lifetime pet insurance: the most comprehensive pet insurance policy

The last, most expensive and comprehensive form of pet insurance that you can arrange for your dog is lifetime health insurance

The amount of cover you receive from lifetime insurance is generous: specifically, you get continuous cover, up to an annual limit for each medical condition, across your dog’s lifetime.

This cover level is reset to zero every time your insurance is due for its annual renewal. 

Let’s imagine that your lifetime insurance provider set an annual limit of £5,000, and your pet then developed a condition – such as diabetes or arthritis – for which the vet’s bills that year came to £4,750.

No problem: you are covered by your insurance policy, and don’t have to pay out any of that yourself (apart from your ‘excess’ – the amount an insurance provider may ask you to contribute towards any claim).

At the end of that insurance year, as long as you renew the policy, your cover limit will be reset to zero and you’ll have another £5,000 available for treatment during the next year

One thing we should point out, with lifetime pet insurance, is that this type of policy will not provide cover for any health conditions that have already been diagnosed in your dog before you begin the policy.

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to start lifetime insurance early in your pet’s life, when they are young and fit and have few or no medical conditions. 

Another thing to bear in mind about both maximum benefit insurance and lifetime insurance is that both tend to include third party cover.

This valuable feature covers you in the event of your dog causing damage or injury, and the costs for which you might be liable as a result.

A typical third party cover may protect you against expenses arising if your pet injures a person or another dog.

This can be a useful element of any insurance policy: but you won’t tend to find it in either accident-only or time-limited health insurance deals.

Is my dog classed as a ‘senior’ or ‘older’ dog, for pet insurance cover purposes?

When it comes to pet insurance for older dogs, an animal is typically classed as ‘old’, ‘older’ or ‘senior’ at around the age of eight years old.

This can vary through – both from one breed to the next, and from one insurance provider to the next.

Some large breeds such as the Great Dane and Bernese Mountain Dog have a typical life expectancy of 6-8 years, so insurance providers are likely to class dogs of these breeds as ‘older’ well before they reach the age of eight.

Conversely, Poodles commonly reach their teens, so old age may – in pet insurance terms – arrive later than eight for these fluffy bundles of joy.

Other things to look for in health insurance for senior dogs

Features to look for in a typical pet insurance policy for older dogs include:

Cover for vets’ fees. The costs of visits to the vet – and, where necessary, medicines, treatment, physiotherapy, and even surgery and a stay in a veterinary hospital – can be high, and tend to get higher as your dog ages.

Check carefully how much cover you are allowed – per year, per condition.

Take a moment to check what you’ll be required to pay yourself, either as an excess (a certain fixed amount that you are obliged to contribute towards each claim) or as co-payment (a percentage of each claim that you may be asked to pay yourself).

Co-payments, or co-insurance, tend to be more of a feature in insurance for older dogs.

Here at Petwise Insurance, however, we will never ask for a co-payment, regardless of the age of your dog.

Senior food contribution. Some providers of older pet insurance – including us here at Petwise – will include a contribution towards the cost of your pet’s senior food, as one of the benefits of their insurance policies.

Owners who take out pet insurance with Petwise, for example, can claim up to £25 per insurance period towards their pet’s food. We just specify that the food must be specially formulated and advertised as food for senior dogs. 

Other benefits to look out for – all of which we are proud to offer with our insurance policies here at Petwise – include dental cover and farewell cover. We also offer 24/7 Vet Video consultations, meaning that our insurance customers can enjoy unlimited video consultations with fully qualified veterinary surgeons – 24/7, 365 days a year, from the comfort of your own home.

What might not be included in an older pet insurance policy?

As we mentioned above, any medical conditions that have already been diagnosed prior to taking out the insurance will not be covered.

If you do want to find cover for a condition from which your older dog already suffers, you will need to find some specialist insurance.

Shop around carefully here, however, as each insurer that does cover these pre-existing conditions will have their own particular list of conditions that are and are not covered by their insurance policies. 

So, if you need cover for a particular condition, check carefully to see whether it’s on the list in your policy document. If you’re not sure, phone your pet insurance provider to check. 

Older dogs and health: weighing up the costs of insurance versus treatment

As we’ve seen, insurance will always come with expenses – including the annual premium, plus any extra payments (such as excess and co-payment) that you may have to make when submitting a claim.

Given all these, will it always make financial sense to have an insurance policy for an old dog?

When you contact an insurance provider for a quote for insurance for your dog, they will want to know the age, breed, size and general health of your pet.

They will also want to know other information about you, such as which part of the country you live in.

All of these factors will contribute towards working out a quote for pet insurance. When you get these quote(s) back, you should think carefully about whether they are affordable.

You may find, for example, that it’s more manageable to have a regular sum coming out of your bank account, than a large, surprise vet’s bill or series of bills for the treatment of an ongoing condition.

This kind of predictable budgeting is one of the benefits that insurance can bring. 

It’s hard to know how much you may need to spend on your dog over the course of his or her lifetime, as treatment costs vary enormously.

It's well worth familiarising yourself with the conditions that can most commonly affect your dog breed, and the costs typically associated with their treatment.

You can then weigh these expenses against the costs of insurance.

How to make savings on insurance for an older dog

There are a few tips when it comes to finding an affordable insurance policy for your pet.

For example, try looking for insurance policies specifically aimed at older pets.

Here at Petwise, our insurance policies are tailored towards older cats and dogs.

Shop around

Then, once you’ve found these specialist insurance providers, get hold of a few policies and quotes so that you can see which one offers you the best mix of cover and value for money. 

Again, those policies aimed specifically towards an older pet will tend to have cover limits that are more suitable for you – for example, for the more expensive procedures that a senior dog may require.

However, always remember to check what is and is not included in each insurance policy, and how this relates to what health conditions your breed may expect later in life. 

Check the excess

Also remember to check the excess and any co-payment, or co-insurance, that each insurance provider will ask you for.

Remember that the excess is a one-off contribution you’ll be required to make towards each claim. In general, the higher the excess, the cheaper the insurance policy.

If you don’t anticipate making many claims – if your dog is healthy, and of a breed that doesn’t have many health risks – you may want to risk a higher excess, as you don’t anticipate having to pay it very often.

This is a tricky decision to weigh up. 

On top of this some insurance policies also demand a percentage co-payment from you, although here at Petwise we don’t ask for a co-payment towards any claim.

Make sure you are clear on how much each insurance provider will ask you to pay in the event of a claim. 

Remember that Petwise provides dedicated cover for senior pets - those animals that are ages seven years or over.

Plus there is no upper age limit, so if you want to find insurance cover for your pet aged 10, 12 or above, we can still help you. 

Once you’ve decided what form of dog insurance is for you, why not contact us for a quote?

Dog insurance cover levels overview

Why choose Petwise senior dog insurance?

Regardless of age, all dogs get into scrapes and, like us humans, an ageing dog can develop age related illnesses and become more susceptible to disease.

A carefully selected insurance policy, which can help cover these eventualities, can be a welcome safety net for those unforeseen accidents and illnesses and can help provide a great quality of life without compromise for your dog, as they age.

Some of our benefits include:

Do you have an upper age limit?

The exceptional care we give our animals these days’ means that they are living longer which is why it’s even more important to consider insuring your pet right through to their golden years.

“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”

Petwise believes owning a dog is a lifelong responsibility, which is why there is no upper age limit on any of our policies! So whether your dog is seven or 17, we’ll keep your partnership covered the whole way.

If you took your policy out before 7th April 2021 your cover and the policy benefits and exclusions will differ from those displayed above. Please CLICK HERE to access your policy documents.  

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