Recent research has found a significant number of pet owners make no financial provision for the cost of unexpected veterinary treatment.
The survey of pet owners conducted by RSPCA pet insurance showed a quarter of owners would rely on their savings to cover vet bills, while a further quarter would use credit cards, despite potentially high interest charges.
Worryingly, nearly a fifth of pet owners (18 per cent) made no provision for unexpected vet bills, and did not know how they would cover the cost. The RSPCA found that although almost three quarters (72 per cent) considered pet insurance essential or at least very important in the event of their pet becoming ill or injured, less than a third (27 per cent) had taken out protection.
The research also revealed a lack of knowledge among pet owners about the cost of treating pets. When asked how much it would cost to treat a cat for a broken leg, only a third of owners guessed within £50 of the correct answer of £300*, while ten per cent had no idea, and the remaining 70 per cent under-estimated the cost.
Steve Cheetham, the RSPCA’s chief veterinary officer, commented: “With around two visits to the vet a year on average, keeping an animal can become expensive. We believe pet health insurance is an integral part of responsible pet ownership.”
The most common reasons for visiting the vet are road traffic accidents for cats, and broken legs for dogs*. The table below demonstrates how much it costs on average to treat some common pet conditions*
Dog - cruciate ligament rupture £500 - £1,200
Dog - broken leg £1,000
Cat – road traffic accident £1,000
Cat – broken leg £300
Dog – lump removal £200+
RSPCA pet insurance covers up to £4,000 of veterinary treatment, for as long as the condition requires. The policy also covers kennel or cattery costs if the owner is taken into hospital unexpectedly, and protection if the policy-holder’s dog causes damage to a third party. Owners can claim up to £500 towards advertising costs and a reward for finding pets that are stolen or lost. Policyholders receive the benefit of a 24-hour emergency veterinary helpline, legal advice helpline and pet bereavement counselling line.
The RSPCA launched its pet insurance service in a bid to help pet owners cover the cost of caring for their animals. RSPCA pet insurance can cost as little as £6 a month for cats and £9 a month for dogs. Ten per cent of the monthly premium is paid to the RSPCA, providing much-needed funds for the society’s ongoing work to promote kindness to animals and prevent cruelty.
Pet owners wishing to find out more about RSPCA pet insurance can call 0870 242 6242 or visit www.rspca.org.uk.
Notes to editors
* Datamonitor analysis of the UK Pet Insurance Market 2003/4.
· Research conducted by Tickbox.net between June 8 2004 and June 22 2004
· RSPCA pet insurance is offered to anyone over 18 years, and 30 days free cover is provided for any dog or cat adopted from a participating RSPCA animal centre.
· Insurance is provided by UK Insurance Ltd. The RSPCA benefits from the scheme because ten per cent of the premium paid each month is contributed by UK Insurance Ltd in support of the RSPCA
For further information contact Melanie Denny, RSPCA pet insurance public relations executive on 0113 399 1387 (out of hours 07711 964 617).
For information on the RSPCA please contact Rebecca Ralph in the RSPCA press office on 0870 754 0450.
Case study - Alpha
Mrs Brunton from Enfield Middlesex insures all four of her cats with RSPCA pet insurance. She was glad she was covered when her cross-breed cat Alpha showed signs of poisoning in June 2004. Mrs Brunton took him to the vet, who diagnosed toxoplasma, probably caused by eating a dead mouse or bird. Mrs Brunton remembers, “Alpha was very sick indeed, he nearly died, but the vet was wonderful.”
Alpha was given emergency treatment at a cost of over £900. Mrs Brunton said, “I was so glad I’d taken out insurance. I would have paid for the treatment anyway, as I think such a lot of Alpha, but it was a lot of money. The service was excellent and RSPCA pet insurance paid the bill straight away.” Alpha has now made a full recovery.
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