Taking out insurance for your dog to cover them in the case of an accident, illness or injury or even if they cause damage to another person’s property is a very wise decision, unless you are able and willing to pay out potentially several thousands of pounds in one go if something should go wrong!
However, the cost of insuring your dog and how the value of a policy is determined can be hugely variable depending on things like the age and breed of your dog, their current health, where you live and the company and policy that you take out. When you first take out a policy with any given company, you will of course have made your peace with the cost you are being charged at that point. However, the cost of your pet’s insurance throughout the entirety of their life is something that is likely to change every few years or even every year, and this can in itself be confusing.
Whilst only the insurance company itself will know the exact algorithm or charging structure and how their fees are calculated-and generally, not even their customer support team will be able to explain to you in detail how the price is determined-there are certain life stages, situations and points at which your dog’s insurance cost will likely change.
In this article, we will attempt to help you to understand how, why and when the cost of your dog’s insurance policy is likely to change throughout their life. It is important to note that these factors do not take into account other reasons for price fluctuations, such as moving home, making a claim, or other intangibles. Read on to learn more.
Insuring your puppy from the first day that you own them is very wise, because this will ensure that your pup is protected if they have an accident, catch an illness, or begin to develop the indications of a hereditary or conformation problem, which otherwise would go unprotected.
This means that the policy cost for your dog’s first year may actually be higher than it will be after this point, because the first year of life is a key time for chronic or hereditary health problems to become apparent.
Additionally, as well as the health lottery of sorts that the first year of life involves, if you insure your pup early on, the chances are that they will not yet have been neutered, which increases the potential risks, and so, makes your policy a little higher.
Make sure to advise your insurer once your dog has been neutered, and this might mean that your next year’s policy will either drop a little, or won’t rise as much as it should.
One year old
A dog that has reached their first birthday in good health and without having had any problems is not strictly out of the woods when it comes to the stage at which hereditary issues will become apparent, but they are a long way towards it! A healthy dog aged between two and four that has already been insured for a year with no claims is apt to cost the minimum possible (taking into account other factors) to provide coverage for, and so if you are not impressed with the policy price at your dog’s first renewal, you might wish to shop around for an alternative.
Two to three years old
Dogs aged two to three generally tend to be reasonably low cost to insure, with the potential exception of some large and giant breeds that are still growing and developing at that age, and that may still present with hip or conformation problems.
Between two to three and around seven or eight years of age for average dogs (but as early as four or five for some large and giant breeds that have shorter lifespans) your dog’s policy cost is unlikely to rise in any meaningful way, other than as connected to inflation.
Most dog breeds with an average lifespan of twelve or more are considered to be “mature” once they reach seven or eight years of age. This is the point at which you are likely to see the first real jump in the policy cost, as your pet passes the insurance company’s arbitrary threshold. This comes as a shock to many dog owners, who have often been paying the policy with little to no thought for several years by now, and can see no real reason for the change!
After the age of around eight, your insurance company is likely to view each additional year added to your dog’s life as an increase in their risk levels. This is likely to mean annual price increases, and also look out for other age-related changes that might affect your dog’s coverage-past a certain age, some insurance companies may begin to withhold coverage for certain conditions, or introduce a higher excess and/or make the owner liable for paying a percentage of any claim themselves.
Finding out more
If you can’t get to the bottom of a certain price increase or feel that your insurers are being a little too lavish with their increases, it can be hard to get a clear answer as to the factors that are causing the changes. Customer service staff that you are apt to speak to by email or on the phone are highly unlikely to be able to tell you how the cost is broken down, and in fact the price is likely to be calculated by an automated algorithm. The company’s staff themselves are unlikely to be able to change this, and also, are unlikely to have been told how the algorithm calculates a cost.
It can be worth running though your statements and assumptions with the company to check that the information that they have is accurate, just in case an anomaly is causing an issue. Keep asking for your query to be pushed up the line for consideration if you really cannot suss a certain issue out-such as if you own two dogs of the same age and breed that on paper, could be identical (or close to) but one costs significantly more to insure than the other.