Pet insurance prices fall for first time in eight years but some may qualify for FREE or discounted cover

PET owners have seen the price of insuring their beloved animals fall for the first time in eight years – but if you’re on certain benefits you may qualify for free help.

Average policy prices fell by £2 from £281 a year in 2017 to £279 a year in 2018.

A dog on the grass
Pet owners may qualify for free help towards vets bills

Although this is still up by a whopping 50 per cent compared to 10 years ago.

Average pet insurance claims meanwhile have risen by 75 per cent over the past 10 years and climbed by £36 in 2018 from £757 to £793.

Trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) says the rise is likely to be caused by ever-increasing vet costs as the sophistication and cost of treatment increases.

But despite payouts rising a worrying number of people still aren’t insuring their pets – particularly cat owners.

Can I get help with vets bills?

PEOPLE on certain benefits may qualify for help with vets bills from veterinary charity the PDSA.

If you receive housing benefit, council tax support or Universal Credit (with a housing element) you may qualify for free treatment for one pet and discounted treatment for other pets.

You could qualify for low cost treatments if you receive child tax, working tax credit and Universal Credit (without a housing element).

Pensioners living in a home that is in council tax bands A-D may also qualify for low cost treatment.

You first need to register with the PDSA at which point you’ll need to show photo ID and proof of any benefits you receive.

Your pet will be registered for 12 months, and, if you’re still eligible after that, you may be able to re-register.

See the PDSA website for more information and to check if you’re eligible.

The ABI says only 1.3million cats are insured compared to 2.8million dogs – leaving the owners of 6.3million cats at risk of having to foot expensive vet bills out of their own pockets.

Joe Ahern, the ABI’s senior policy adviser for pet insurance, said: “There is no NHS for animals, so if you’ve not got a pet policy in place – you risk having to foot veterinary bills out of your own pocket.

“These can often be in the thousands of pounds and vet treatment is only getting more expensive, not less.”

Millions of cats in particular aren’t insured

Use a comparison site to find the best quote for your needs and then check the insurers comparison sites miss, such as Aviva and Direct Line.

Then before you buy, see if you can get the same policy via a cashback site to earn some extra cash on top.

Some pet owners on certain benefits may also qualify for free or discounted vet treatment – see the box above for more information.

We spoke to one cat owner who was covered for a £7,000 op, but her insurance policy did not pay for the pills… do you have the right cover?

But bear in mind that you could get a £100 fine if you don’t have a poo bag while walking your dog.

Pets at Home is selling Easter eggs for dogs, cats and rabbits – and prices start from £2.

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