Which pet insurance is best

No need for animals: health insurance for pets

Some insurers offer special insurance for dogs, cats and horses. But their benefits are limited: the policies are expensive and not all treatments are paid for. In addition, only healthy animals are usually insured. So the question remains whether and in which cases insurance for a four-legged friend is worthwhile at all.

According to a study by Stiftung Warentest from 2016 in Germany, animal health insurance for dogs is offered by the following companies. A more recent neutral investigation is currently (as of 2019) not known:

  • AGILA Pet Insurance AG
  • Allianz Insurance AG
  • Helvetia Swiss Insurance Company AG
  • Tiergarant Versicherungsdienst GmbH
  • Uelzener Allgemeine Versicherungsgesellschaft a.G.

According to the financial test, a dog owner pays from around 120 to almost 1300 euros annually. For a cat, the tariffs start at 160 euros and end at 560 euros. In comparison, the cheapest surgery cost insurance for a dog costs from 110 euros and for a cat from 70 euros per year.

The price differences and the risks covered are enormous. It is therefore all the more important to compare the tariffs and conditions with one another and to select the offer that suits you.

Who gets insurance and when does it apply?

In principle, only healthy animals are insured. Often there is a minimum and a maximum age between which the animal has to be for you to take out insurance. Animals to be insured may usually not be younger than two months. In the case of older animals or with previous illnesses, a veterinary report on the state of health is sometimes required. As a rule, after a certain age you will no longer receive insurance (e.g. this is usually the case for dogs older than seven years).

As a rule of thumb, the older the animal is when the contract is signed, the more expensive the fee will be.

In the event of illness, there is usually a waiting period of three months from the start of the contract. If an illness occurs very early after the application, the costs will not be covered. However, this waiting time does not apply in the event of an accident. There is immediate insurance coverage for this.

The contributions mostly depend on the (dog) breed, the size, the weight, the age of the animal and the type of keeping.

The insurance cover exists in Germany, for a temporary stay abroad with dogs of mostly up to 12 months Europe-wide or even worldwide. If you want to travel with the animal, pay attention to the exact regulations!

Both sides can terminate the insurance contract - that is, both you and the insurer. Pay attention to the agreed notice period. You can also cancel after a premium increase and after the occurrence of the insured event.

The contract expires if the insured animal is sold or dies. You should then inform the insurance company as soon as possible.

What benefits does the insurance offer?

Animal health insurance reimburses the veterinarian and operation costs for outpatient, inpatient and surgical treatments, medication, accommodation and diagnostics.

Only medically necessary treatments are accepted. For example, many insurers do not undertake castration or sterilization without medical emergency. Not all insurers also accept a tattoo or identification with a chip.

As a rule, veterinary practices charge three times the fee schedule for veterinarians for all treatments. Only twice this rate is paid by the insurer. Only in justified cases (e.g. for emergency services) can up to three times the rate be paid. It is also customary that only 80 percent of the reimbursable costs are covered. So you usually pay a 20 percent deductible.

Both - the fee schedule and the deductible - mean that you will usually pay a larger part yourself for examinations and treatments despite being insured.

You are free to choose the vet / practice, including the veterinary clinics. However, you may need to see the veterinarian you chose when you took out the insurance.

Is animal health insurance worth it?

Low premiums are only paid by pet owners who insure their healthy animal as early as possible. You then pay contributions for this over many years. So think about whether the insurance will pay off. Especially since standard services such as vaccinations, castration or sterilization are often not covered by insurance.

It can make sense to take out pure surgery cost insurance in order to get at least part of the expensive surgery costs reimbursed. For such tariffs, the premiums are lower than for the more comprehensive policies.

You can also do without animal health insurance altogether if you instead set up a reserve for emergencies and reserve money in the account for emergencies.

The differences in contributions and benefits between health insurance providers are enormous. If in doubt, let us advise you independently!

Orientation with animal health insurance

A must: the pet owner's liability insurance

Pet owner liability insurance has nothing to do with animal health insurance. From our point of view, it is an absolute must for dog and horse owners. Because: As the owner, you are liable for damage caused by your dog or horse - even if you are not to blame yourself.

Outside, dogs and horses can cause enormous damage, for example when they are out and about in traffic and cause serious accidents. The sum insured for personal injury and property damage should be at least 5 million euros. Such insurances are comparatively cheap: The annual premium for dogs is, for example, well below 100 euros.

For owners of cats, private liability insurance covers the possible consequences of incalculable behavior.

This content was created by the joint editorial team in cooperation with our federal association (vzbv) and the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer center for the network of consumer centers in Germany.