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Is it worth insuring an old dog?

22/07/2021

Insuring old dog
Older dogs often face higher veterinary bills due to a host of possible medical conditions that can develop in old age, but some pet insurance policies will specifically exclude these conditions from coverage when the policy is renewed. With that in mind, is it still worth insuring an old dog?
Is there a maximum age limit for pet insurance?

In theory there isn’t a maximum age limit for pet insurance, but it’s worth bearing in mind that some pet insurance providers will only insure an older dog or older cat if you’ve insured the same pet with that provider in the past. Different providers will have different rules about what age they class as ‘older’, but a good rule of thumb is that pets that are over the age of nine may well fall into this ‘older pet’ category.

Since some insurance providers may refuse to insure older dogs for the first time, that sometimes means you’ll find it harder to shop around for pet insurance quotes when you have an older dog, because while your existing provider will almost certainly offer you a renewal quote some other insurance companies may decline to insure your pet.

Does insurance for an older dog provide the same level of cover?

That depends on the type of pet insurance policy you’re taking out, and also on your insurance provider’s standard exclusions.

The situation with lifetime pet insurance is a little different, but for annual pet insurance or a per-condition pet insurance you usually won’t be covered for any medical conditions that were diagnosed prior to the policy’s start date. Since older pets are more likely to develop a range of different medical conditions than puppies or kittens, if you have an annual or per-condition policy that means you will usually be covered for fewer and fewer medical expenses as your pet ages.

What’s different about lifetime pet insurance then?

As we already mentioned, the situation is a little different with lifetime pet insurance. Unlike annual or per-condition policies, since lifetime policies policies are designed to insure your pet for the whole of its life they will often continue to cover the cost of your pet’s medical expenses year after year, even for chronic, ongoing medical conditions.

Of course, pet owners will usually have to pay a higher premium to reflect this elevated risk to the insurer, but if your dog or cat (or even your rabbit, for that matter) does develop one or more serious conditions these higher premiums could still prove to be much more cost effective than covering the veterinary bills yourself.

For more information on this type of policy, check out our guide to lifetime pet insurance.

So is it still worth insuring an old dog if you don’t have lifetime insurance?

If you signed up for lifetime pet insurance when your dog was relatively young and healthy it is almost certainly worth renewing that policy each year now that your dog is old, because this type of policy should cover the vet’s bills for most of your pet’s medical conditions.

But if you’ve always taken out an annual policy or a per-condition policy in the past is it still worth insuring your dog now that it’s older and many of its pre-existing medical conditions will be excluded from coverage?

The short answer is ‘it depends’.

If your dog insurance premium is relatively cheap (reflecting the fact that many of your dog’s medical expenses won’t covered by these policies) it still might be worth taking out the policy, because you will be covered for a range of other risks beyond your pet’s medical expenses.

For instance, your dog insurance should still cover the resulting veterinary bills if your dog is ever involved in an accident, and many policies will also include third party liability cover which means you may well be covered against compensation claims if your dog bites someone or attacks another pet.

Ultimately, the decision about whether it is worth insuring an old dog will depend on the premium you’re being quoted for the policy and the level of cover the policy will offer you, so it’s a good idea to compare pet insurance quotes for your dog in order to help you weigh up these factors.


This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.

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