With the cost of vet treatments rising in recent years, dog insurance is something that staffy owners should seriously consider. According to moneysavingexpert.com, the average pet insurance claim is now at £1,220.
As a result, the pet insurance industry is growing at a rapid rate in the UK, which can make things seriously confusing for dog owners. There are many different policy types with different inclusions, exclusions and costs.
In this article, I'll be breaking down and explaining the key differences between these types of pet insurance so you can choose the one that suits your needs and budget.
I've also done some research and found what I feel are the best insurance plans for Staffordshire bull terriers. See my recommendations below.
CLICK TO VIEW ARTICLE CONTENTS
How to Decide Which Dog Insurance to Buy
By understanding a bit about what it is you're actually buying in your dog's insurance policy, you can save money and future headaches by selecting exactly what you need from the start.
Most people simply head straight to a comparison site and blindly select one of the top results. This is not a good strategy since those comparison charts miss a lot of information and companies often create low-cost policies with fewer features so they can appear near the top of the charts (they're usually sorted by price).
You'll also want to avoid shopping by price only. Most budget insurance policies are cheap because they offer only minimal cover so you're taking a risk by buying one. The best way to make sure you get the best insurance policy for your dog is to put a bit of time into understanding what makes up the policies.
Fortunately, staffies don't have too many common health conditions so opting for a cheaper plan may not carry as much risk as it would for other breeds.
Dog Insurance Policy Types
A good starting point is to know what types of policies are commonly available and what each one will cover you against. There are 4 popular types of policy that you'll come across and each has its' own uses.
1. Time-Limited Policies
These policies will cover you for one condition for either a set period of time or up to a maximum cost. Often this kind of policy will provide cover for a condition for 12 months or up to £1000 of vet costs, whichever of those comes first.
Once you've reached your limit, you won't be able to claim for that specific condition again, even after renewing the policy. Obviously, this kind of policy is no good for long-term conditions like diabetes where your costs will be recurring for the life of your dog.
Time-limited policies are aimed towards the cheaper end of the market and provide good cover for short-term illness, one-off injury and small surgical services.
2. Maximum Benefit Policies
This type of policy is similar to the previous one in that there is a cost cap on how much you can claim for each condition. Once you've reached this cap, that condition is excluded from your policy and you'll have to pay any further costs. Again, this is not great for long-term problems that are likely to exceed this cap.
The plus-side is there is no time limit on maximum benefit policies so they provide useful cover for medium-term illness or injuries that require larger surgeries. These policies are seen as a good middle ground between cost and cover but you could be in trouble if your dog contracts a longer-term problem. The cheaper ones will also have a lower cap.
As an example, your policy could include a cap of £3,000 per condition. This means you can keep claiming until you've reached that cap, no matter how long it takes.
3. Lifetime Policies
If you're a bit of a worrier and want maximum cover, this is the type of policy to go for. As you may expect, it will come at a higher cost.
With a lifetime policy, your dog can be covered for every condition no matter how long it lasts so they are the only real option for covering long-term illness costs. Usually, the plan has a yearly cap that renews every 12 months and covers all conditions, injuries and illnesses.
4. Accident-Only Policies
As the name suggests, these policies only cover your dog if it is involved in an accident. Accident-only are the cheapest policies you can buy but Illness and diseases will not be covered.
As a result, I don't suggest these unless they really are the only type of cover you can afford; some cover is better than none at all.
What Does Dog Insurance Cover?
Each policy will provide different levels of cover for different situations. As a general rule, a more expensive plan will have more features in terms of what it covers and is likely to have higher cost caps as well. You'll also have to make sure you are honest when filling out the form as your dog's individual circumstances will affect what type of cover the insurance company can offer.
Here's a list of some of the common features of a dog insurance policy. You'll have to consider each one and decide whether you think its worth to have it included as part of your dog's policy. Each policy will have different inclusions, exclusions and costs so read the small print carefully!
Most policies will not provide cover for a condition that you're dog has already been treated for. If you do find a policy that will cover a pre-exisitng condition, you can expect to pay a premium for it so you'll need to decide whether the extra cost of the policy is justified by the amount you'll save on your dog's medical condition.
These fees will make up the majority of any claims you make on your dog's policy. You'll need to check exactly what your policy does cover when it comes to vet fees since certain procedures may be excluded.
Emergency Boarding Fees
Some of the more expensive policies will allow you to claim back for accommodation costs that your dog might incur as a result of you having to take an emergency hospital stay.
Dental treatments are kept separate from regular vet fees on the majority of insurer's terms. Dental issues are quite common for dogs, particularly as they age so this is certainly something you will want to try and have in your policy.
Cover for Older Dogs
Many insurance companies set a limit on the age of dog they're willing to provide cover for. As your dog gets older, cover becomes a lot more expensive and some companies even have an age limit. It is best to insure your dog as early as you can.
Missing Dog Cover
This provides you with cover for the advertising costs of looking for a lost or stolen dog. A policy might also pay a set amount of compensation if you fail to recover your dog.
Policies might pay out a fixed amount if your dog passes away form anything other than natural causes. Policies usually have different cover terms depending on whether the dog's death was caused by accident or illness so you should keep an eye out for that.
Who Provides the Best Dog Insurance for Staffies?
When it comes to things like giving dog insurance recommendations, it can be tricky since individual factors are going to play a part both the costs and cover available. One company might be great for my dog but might not provide yours with the same level of cover.
With that being said, there are certainly some companies that provide both a good level of cover and customer service across the board. So, I've gone out, done some research and found what I feel are the best options for Staffordshire bull terrier insurance.
Instead of just listing their general features, I've gone out and got quotes from each for an average, healthy pedigree staffy. This should help to give you a better idea of what you can expect to pay and what kind of cover you'll get for your staffy. I feel that each of the companies below provide great cover and service, you'll just have to decide which one fits your own needs the best.
Click Images to See Full Size.
Petplan Dog Insurance
Petplan are the Uk's number 1 pet insurance company and offer a few good value plans with high levels of cover and options for varying budgets.
Their insurance is provided by Allianz and boasts that 90% of claims are paid out within 5 days.
Petplan offer both lifetime cover and a time-limited 12-month cover option. They also have the option to add on death from injury or illness cover for £1.90/month unless you select the lifetime ultimate plan where it is included as standard.
Below are some screenshots from my staffy quotes, which were quick and simple to get online.
Petplan Lifetime Cover
Petplan 12 Month Cover
Bought by Many Dog Insurance
Bought by Many were voted as the most trusted insurance provider in the UK for 2019 at the Moneywise customer service awards.
They accept dogs of all ages and will cover a pre-exisitng condition as long as it ended over 2 years ago. Their aim is to allow you to create the perfect insurance plan for you dog.
Bought by Many offered me 5 different insurance plans for my staffy with the option of a voluntary excess (20% of claim value) to drop the monthly payments by a couple of pounds. You can tally up if that's worth it to you or not.
Bought By Many Dog Insurance Options
Bought by Many Complete Plan Overview
I've chosen to do a quick round up of the most comprehensive plan they offer. It is a lifetime policy and packed with features and reasonably priced as well.
- Vet Fees: £15,000 per year
- Excess: Choice of £69 only or £69 plus 20% of each claim (fixed at £69 plus 20% for pets 9 and over)
- Liability: £3,000,000 per incident
- Farewell Cover: £150 per pet
- Emergency Minding: £2,000 per year
- Travel Cover: Vet fee cover extends worldwide, plus an additional £2,500 for certain non-recoverable costs arising because of your pet
- Lost Or Stolen Cover: £6,000
- Pass Away Cover: £6,000
Animal Friends Dog Insurance
Animal Friends are pet insurance specialists with over 20 years of industry experience. They also boast to be an award-winning company havng been voted Personal Finance's Best Pet Insurer for 2018/19.
Animal Friends offer each of the 4 types of policy discussed earlier in the article.
To keep this review comparable to the previous companies, I chose to get a quote for their lifetime plan. Lifetime plans are also my preferred insurance type for the added peace of mind.
Animal Friends Dog Insurance Plans
Animal friends Lifetime Policies
How to Save Money on Dog Insurance
For the most part, pet insurance is one of those "you get what you pay for" type of deals. The more you pay, the higher levels of coverage and benefits you'll receive. However, there are a few things you should consider that might help to keep your costs down. Here's a list of some tips that can save some money on insurance for staffies.
Check Your Free Treatment Entitlement
There are some helpful charities that can provide free or subsidised vet treatments to some eligible dog owners. The Blue Cross and RSPCA run such schemes for indiviudals that meet their criteria (usually those on benefits and low income). You can check if you're eligible by clicking these links:
This article from Moneysavingexpert also has some info on how to get free vet care for those on low income and benefits.
Self-insuring is simply saving the money yourself to pay for potential vet bills instead of paying monthly premiums. The benefit is that you'll not have to worry about policy exclusions or making claims.
The downside is that you will need to hope that your dog doesn't need any expensive treatments before you've saved the money up. Another drawback is that you'll not get the public liability cover offered by most insurers, which is a problem if your dog is the cause of an accident and the victim decides to sue you.
Insure Your Dog Early
Older dogs are harder and more expensive to insure since they become more prone to illness as they age. Some companies won't even insure a dog past a certain age and others increase your excess as the dog gets older. You can avoid paying more and lock in your current premiums by insuring while your dog is still young.
Increase the Policy Excess
If your aim is to cut down on monthly payments, you can do so by increasing the voluntary excess you will be charged when making a claim. Some policies will have you pay a certain percentage of any claim as part of the excess so you need to account for that as well.
Set your excess at the amount of cash you'd be willing to pay before claiming on your insurance. For example, if you would be happy to pay up to £100 for treatment without worrying about claiming then you'd probably want your excess set around £100.
Check Multi-Pet Discounts
Most of the time, you will get a discount when you take out insurance for more than one pet at the same time. Don't be fooled into thinking these multi-pet discounts are automatically the cheapest option. It is still worth getting quotes on both the multi-pet policy and individually to check that you will actually make a saving.
Obviously, this one won't apply if you just want to insure a single pet but it's worth looking at if you own other dogs or even cats and other animals.