'We've just adopted a rescue dog with health problems - should we get pet insurance?'
Question: We have just adopted a rescue dog who has a few minor health problems.
When I brought her for her first check-up to the vet, he asked me if I was planning on taking out pet insurance. He showed me a list of some of the fees I would have to pay if the dog needed an operation in the future. We would not be in a position to afford them. Given that the dog already has a few health issues, should I take out pet insurance? Laura, Shillelagh, Co Wicklow
Answer: Pet insurance can help cover the cost of your pet's medical treatment if she is sick or seriously injured. It can help to pay for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses - but not more routine treatment. However, having pet insurance can mean you won't have to make a difficult decision if you can't afford your dog's medical treatment.
Before you decide to take out a policy, it is important to get the right cover for your pet. Most policies cover vet fees for illness or injury, care for your pet if you are in hospital, and rewards for lost or stolen pets. Insurers won't cover any pre-existing conditions your pet may have. On most policies, routine treatments such as vaccinations and neutering won't be covered. Flea and worm control and anything related to pregnancy or birth are also excluded. Also, watch out for things like after-hours emergency care which can be very expensive and may not be included in a standard policy.
Another thing to think about is how much pet insurance cover you should get. For instance, you may be unsure whether to get "accident only" cover, which covers accidental injuries such as your pet getting hit by a car, or "lifetime cover", which covers your pet for an illness and/or injury which requires treatment for several years over your pet's lifetime.
Make sure you get the best deal on your pet insurance by getting quotes from a number of insurers online or over the phone. Write down all the details as you go along, so that you can clearly compare what's on offer. Also be aware that you may pay a little extra if you choose to pay monthly by direct debit - instead of paying the yearly fee, as with other types of insurance.