Payouts by pet insurers hit a record £785m last year, even though the number of claims submitted fell, according to the industry trade body.
The Association of British Insurers said this was down to the higher cost of increasingly-sophisticated medical care. The size of the average claim jumped by £36, or nearly 5%, to £793, the BBC reported.
The ABI said the ‘overwhelming majority’ of pet insurance payouts were to meet veterinary treatment bills.
Less common claims included pet owners asking to be reimbursed for the theft of a pet, the cost of advertising to find a lost animal and liability for when a pet damaged property or injured someone. However, the ABI said these claims were ‘tiny’ compared with veterinary treatment bills.
Senior policy adviser for pet insurance, Joe Ahern, told the BBC: “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.”
The size of the average claim on pet insurance jumped by £36, or 4.75%, to £793 between 2017 and 2018. However, the number of claims submitted fell to 990,000, down from 1.02 million the previous year. Total payouts increased by £10m to £785m – a rise of 1.3%.
Nearly 4.3 million pets were covered by insurance last year, more than ever before, and an increase of 50,00 on 2017.
But the ABI told the BBC there was still a ‘worrying level of under-insurance’ among cat owners.
Average premiums fell slightly for the first time in eight years – down from £281 in 2017 to £279 in 2018. This is the first time there has been any decrease in pet premiums for eight years.
Over the past ten years, the average claim has increased by 75%, while the average premium has increased by only 50%, according to the ABI.