What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is mainly to help people pay unexpected veterinary bills and related treatment for their pets and other animals.
Types of complaint we see
We normally deal with complaints about two types of pet insurance:
- Annual policies – these provide cover for a condition for 12 months and are renewed annually.
- Lifetime policies – these provide cover for ongoing conditions throughout an animal's lifetime, as long as the policy is renewed each year.
Common complaints are that an insurer has rejected a claim or increased the premiums at renewal time.
Some policies cover costs when an animal dies and third-party liability, say if a pet causes an accident.
How to complain
Before bringing your complaint to us, you first need to contact the insurer. They need to have the chance to put things right. They have to give you their final response within eight weeks.
If you’re unhappy with their response, or if they don’t respond, let us know. We’ll check whether we can deal with your complaint. If we can, we’ll investigate what happened and what went wrong.
Find out more about how to complain.
What we look at
When we look into complaints about pet insurance, we read the policy wording and any other relevant documents, such as the policy summary.
Most policies have exclusions and limitations. If we think any of these are significant or unusual, we'll look at what your insurer told you when you took out the policy.
We'll also take into account any medical evidence from your vet and your insurer's vet, especially clinical notes and written submissions.
The types of complaint we look into include the following:
- Complaints about policy wording – for example, a claim might be rejected because of the meaning of key words in the policy, such as 'condition' or 'treatment'.
- Complaints about pre-existing conditions – this includes claims where the animal was already suffering from a condition when you took out the policy, or the condition became apparent soon after you did so.
- Complaints where the insurer has added a new exclusion to your policy because you didn’t tell them about something affecting your pet when you took out the policy (which could mean your claim is turn down).
- Time limits on cover for treatment – if there are differences between whether the claim is covered after the condition first appeared, or at the first sign of the condition.
- Bilateral conditions – we look into claims where a condition affected one side of the animal's body first, then the other at a later date.
- Complaints about increases to premiums.
- Complaints about equine policies that provide cover if a horse has to be put down.
Putting things right
If we think your insurer has done something wrong or treated you unfairly, we’ll tell them to put things right. This usually means that they need to return you to the position you’d have been in if the problem hadn’t happened.
This could mean your insurer refunding your premiums, or paying part, or all, of your claim.
We’ll also consider whether you’ve experienced any distress or inconvenience and whether we think it’s appropriate to award compensation.
How long it takes
It’s currently taking longer than we’d like to allocate cases to our case handlers for review.
For most complaints about pet insurance, it can take up to 6 months to allocate cases. We’re working hard to reduce this wait time, so you may hear from us sooner than this.
- Find out more about when you can expect to hear from us once we’ve started to investigate your complaint.
- If you’re facing financial hardship or severe ill health, please let us know.
- If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, you may find the Money Advice Service website useful, it contains a list of online debt advice services where you can get immediate and personalised help.
Consumer doesn’t disclose pet’s pre-existing medical condition
Horse is put down without insurer’s consent
Insurer says surgery claim falls outside of policy time limits
Consumer asks us to investigate difficulties trying to take out pet insurance policy for his cat
Pet Insurance Distress and inconvenience Up to £300
Consumer asks us to investigate error made with his pet insurance policy
Pet Insurance Insurance Distress and inconvenience Up to £100
Information for financial businesses
If you’re a financial business looking for information to help you resolve complaints or want to find out more technical information, you can find more detail about pet insurance in the business section of our website.