We certainly love our pets in Britain, with an estimated eight and a half million dogs and eight million cats making up the bulk of the nation’s 20 million domestic animals. For many people, especially those older and without other company, they can be a treasured companion and a very real family member. But when large vet bills come, finding the finance to pay for your beloved pet’s health and welfare is not always easy unless you have pet insurance.
What is pet insurance?
Taking out pet insurance can protect owners against the cost of life-saving treatment for their beloved pet (most standard policies only cover cats and dogs). You pay a monthly or annual premium which ought to cover:
- Veterinary treatment (eg: operations, medication, diseases)
- Costs of being looked after if you are ill
- Costs or compensation if they are stolen
- Liability for damage they may cause to someone else
- Compensation if they die within the policy
Nonetheless, the vast majority of claims are for vet bills. Pet insurance can be pricey depending on the breed, and type of cover you take, annual or Lifetime. The average claim for pet insurance is £720, according to Money Advice Service, but this figure can quickly leap up if your cat or dog has a medical condition that just won’t go away. And the older the animal, the more likely they will get ill, hence the higher the premium.
What if I can’t afford pet insurance?
There are other options available which can help you avoid being plunged into a situation where you face large vet fees but haven’t got the finances to fund it.
Spread the cost with 0% purchase cards
If you have, or are able to apply for a 0% purchase credit card, it could help you spread the cost of large vet bills by not having to pay any interest on the balance until the promo deal ends, which could be up to 2 years. Just make sure you pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you may lose the 0% rate and be faced with a high APR on your vet bill debt.
Spread the cost by paying in instalments
Some vets may allow you to pay the total fee over a period of time, like a personal loan, to suit your budget - it may be worth speaking to them about it, especially if you know them well.
Charities can help with large vet bills
You may be able to get help with large vet bills from animal charities if you are retired, on certain state benefits or on a low income. None of them benefit from government funding, which is why they restrict eligibility to those who are means-tested. Those who can help with vet care include PDSA Vet Care, Blue Cross Animal Hospital and the RSPCA, while the Dog’s Trust and Cats Protection charities can help with funding for neutering.
Equity release can free up cash for vet bills
If you’re a homeowner aged 55 or over, then equity release could be a great way to free up cash specifically to put aside for the care of your pets. By unlocking part of the financial value in your home with a lifetime mortgage, you can take a tax-free lump sum (or instalments) and have the security of being able to stay in your home and keep 100% ownership - the loan is paid back only when you no longer need to live there and the home is sold.
It’s ideal for funding pet care as the amount you get is tax-free, and what you don’t spend on pet care you can use for a variety of other popular reasons such as holidays, funding family events or topping up your retirement income.
Check out if equity release suits you
Equity release schemes through the Telegraph are regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), and before you make your decision, take a look at all the options to make sure it’s right for you and your circumstances. Always get advice from a qualified and experienced independent financial adviser, as some forms of equity release may reduce the value of your estate and could affect your entitlement to state benefits.
Could you unleash a large sum of tax-free money from your property? Find out how much tax-free cash you could release with the Telegraph’s easy instant equity release calculator
Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/financial-services/retirement-solutions/equity-release-service/-how-to-pay-for-large-vet-bills/