JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 The Costco Connection 15
YES FROM EXPERTS IN THE FIELD
NO FROM EXPERTS IN THE FIELD
is director of
for the insurance
firm SunLife (sunlife
is a Labour member of the Scottish
Glasgow. He spoke
to the Scottish
in November 2015
about this subject.
THERE IS NO denying it: we are a nation of pet lovers. According to research
from pet owner resource Pets at Home (
petsathome.com), Britons spend a
staggering £ 6 billion on their pets every year, on everything from food and
accessories to grooming and pampering. Last year, pet owners spent a whopping £450 million taking their pets on holiday. A third of owners now holiday
with their pets and are happy to pay an extra £126 on average to keep their pets
by their side when they travel.
However, despite all the love and affection we have for our furry friends,
and the billions we spend on them every year, fewer than a quarter are insured,
according to the Association of British Insurers. You never know when your
pet could be taken ill or involved in an accident. The People’s Dispensary for
Sick Animals (
pdsa.org.uk), a veterinary charity, says a third of pets need vet
treatment every year, and it is expensive.
Vets are often accused of exploiting insured pets, and while it is true that
some vets are relieved when pets are insured, it is not because they can make
more money out of the situation but because they can proceed with the best
treatment for the animal rather than having to cut corners because of an owner’s tight budget. Those animals covered with insurance will receive the best
treatment available, but those animals that aren’t could be in for a rough ride.
If pet insurance were compulsory, many animals would not have to be
euthanised. Pet owners would have to think long and hard about the emotional
and financial responsibilities of owning a pet, and would face possible penalties
if they didn’t take it seriously. Maybe overall pet ownership would go down as a
result, but responsible ownership would go up, and that can only be a good thing.
Mandatory cover also protects pet owners if a dog were to bite someone,
knock someone over or damage their property.
Pets make us happy when we’re feeling blue, and they give us unconditional love and loyalty. Don’t we need to do something for them in return? C
I AM AGAINST mandatory insurance because it can be very expensive for those
who can least afford it. And the reason pet insurance is expensive is because of
the cost of veterinary treatment. The Association of British Insurers says the
average cost of treating a pet injured in a road traffic accident is about £674 for
a dog and £300 for a cat. For a dog, spinal surgery can cost £ 2,000 and treating
a uterine infection £900.
Mandatory insurance would be a heavy burden on those who cannot afford
it, especially on the elderly, who place so much value and derive so much comfort from pets. And even if you do buy insurance, some policies have age limits,
exclusions and excesses set within their plans, especially for plans covering
older dogs, which is often the case with elderly folk. Typically, owners pay bills
out of their own pocket and then get reimbursed, but payments from insurance companies can be delayed and serious conditions increase premiums.
Yes, insurance is a wise thing to buy if you can afford it, but if you cannot,
you should be able to choose not to buy it without being deprived of a pet’s companionship. Buying pet insurance is a personal decision, not something that
should be mandated. How people seek treatment for their pets and pay for it
(or get it paid for by other sources) should be their choice and not imposed on
them, especially if they are poorer members of society. And there are alternatives to pet insurance, such as setting up a savings account for the pet to pay for
any medical expenses that may arise or appealing to one of the charities that
offer treatment on a means-tested basis.
If mandatory insurance were to be enforced, we would be depriving many
people of having pets: lone, elderly widows and widowers, perhaps those with
both physical and mental infirmities who get so much companionship from
a pet. Children, too, gain valuable experiences from pets. By choosing not to
make pet insurance mandatory, we can ensure that we are not penalising those
who cannot afford pet insurance. C
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Is it time to tighten drone
Is it time to tighten drone
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