In my opinion, it’s peace of mind. If anything happens, you got it covered. There’s nothing we’d not do for our furry friends, they are like part of the family, and it goes further than just food and shelter.

Generally speaking, pet insurance plans will cover you for accidents and illnesses.

Vet’s bills aren’t cheap, and anyone who has a pet knows the bill for annual shots alone are going to make a dent in your wallet, and unfortunately, this is something that isn’t covered by insurance anyway.

Nor is it worth claiming for a course of antibiotics for something nasty your pet ate, for instance, as once you make a claim you can’t make another for the same problem, so you grudgingly pay up, but knowing the premium for the insurance has also just been paid, you might wonder why the heck you even bother with insurance if you can’t use it.

But the plan you pick might seem fine, you selected it because the premiums weren’t that bad, and perhaps with multiple pets it was the lesser of all evils. You know if one of them breaks a leg or needs emergency surgery for something, the cover will be there – if not fully – but enough to take the sting out of the horrendous cost.

I personally have pet insurance and have only made a claim on two occasions. The first was some surgery for a small tumour on a dog (successfully removed) years ago, the second was when the same dog swallowed a sock, which lodged itself between his stomach and his intestines as it was too big to pass through. This entailed several x-rays, two surgeries and a stay in a pet hospital. The bill was pretty steep as you can imagine, and the insurance covered the best part of it. Sadly the outcome wasn’t so good, but the insurance company was sensitive to our situation, and there was no quibble over costs.

But - (there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there) – not every health issue is covered by insurance, so you must read the small print, as many plans offer protection in the event of an accident, but not for cancer or certain other types of illness, and when you start reading, it makes you wonder what you are actually covered for.

There are also limits for pre-existing conditions, which includes anything your animal is currently receiving treatment for (like Leish in this country for example), or something they were treated for in the past. You can typically still obtain coverage for a pet with a pre-existing condition, but just bear in mind you won’t be reimbursed for any medical treatment related to that excluded health issue.

You might perhaps find that some insurance providers exclude certain medical conditions that come up later on - some plans will not cover a type of genetic disorder called hip dysplasia for instance, which is common in large dogs. And your plan is unlikely to cover age-related conditions either - there doesn’t seem to be a one-size fits all concerning older animals, but look for co-payment options (where you pay some of the cost), third-party coverage, loss or theft and death by illness or injury. There might even be an age limit, so check with the insurer.

Another alternative to insurance for your dog or cat is to set aside an ‘insurance pot’ for emergencies, and religiously put a set amount in each month, and hope it will be enough, but I wonder who would be diligent enough to do this?