We strongly recommend that pet owners take out pet health insurance, preferably from a young age before any signs of illness are present. Good veterinary care can be expensive, and you don’t want to be worrying about money when your pet is ill or has an accident. There are lots of different insurance companies to choose from and they vary immensely in the cover they provide. We can give you advice on the things to look for when choosing a policy (see below).
We are familiar with the range of policies available and we know from experience that some of the insurance companies are in general good to work with, and we know that some are not.
We know that some policies, providers and underwriters are predictable and fair whilst others contain medically questionable small print designed to limit liability.
We are happy to share our experiences and to give advice within the scope of what we are allowed to under the Financial Conduct Authority regulations. We are very careful to keep our advice within these confines.
At Ashwood we will help with your pet insurance claim as much as we legally can.
We are used to submitting our clients’ claims to their insurer on their behalf, and have many claims in process on any given day. We are happy to do this for you too, at no charge. In most cases we are happy to submit your claim to the insurance company on your behalf such that the balance is to be settled directly to us, meaning we are prepared to wait to be paid by the insurer so that you do not have to pay a large bill at the time. In this case, we will ask you to pay initially your policy excess plus any non-insurance related costs.
However, we are obliged to make it clear that any costs incurred through veterinary treatment for your pet are owed to the practice by you and when we submit the claim to the insurance company on your behalf the debt does not transfer from you to the insurance company. If there is a problem with the claim or the insurance company does not settle the bill, the amount is still owed by you, our client, to us, the practice.
If your pet insurance company does not settle your account and you feel they were in the wrong to decline the claim, you must still settle your account with us. If you decide to take the matter further to the Financial Ombudsman or the small claims court, we will support your action if it is reasonable, with the medical case notes and written comment and opinion where possible and appropriate. We are often able to offer our opinion on whether a claim being declined was or wasn’t reasonable.
Some companies allow for the pre-authorisation of claims. This means submitting to the insurance company details of the pet’s condition, the plan and the expected cost. This can be helpful in cases where there is doubt as to whether a company is happy to cover a condition.
We will try to help resolve any query the insurance company brings, and we are happy to email on your behalf regarding any query raised.
We would strongly recommend that any questions your insurance company asks about your pet’s health or any query your insurance company raises with you should be answered not on the phone but by email so that it is traceable and so that there is a record of precisely what was said. (You may find company representatives are reluctant to do this and try to press for a telephone conversation but we recommend you insist they raise their questions with you by email, giving you time for a thoughtful and accurate response).
We are happy to review responses to insurance company queries before you reply to them.
The above recommendations are general advice, your communication with your insurance company is your responsibility.