Veterinary bills for your pets in France can be covered by an insurance policy, although the small print of such policies needs to be read with care.
There around 20 million pet cats and dogs in France, one of the largest canine and feline populations in Europe.
Only 5% of owners take out a health insurance policy for their furry friend, against 30% who do so in the UK.
Yet veterinary bills in France are not necessarily any cheaper in France, and you cannot always rely on the goodwill of the vet to be modest with their charges.
If your pet needs urgent or major veterinary care then it is likely the costs are going to upset the monthly budget.
‘One reason’ says a Bertrand Collignon a vet in Nancy, ‘why, when major surgery is involved, owners frequently opt for euthanasia for their pets’.
Yet a health insurance policy for your pet is not likely to break the monthly budget, and we know from your e mails that many of you rely enormously on the companionship of your pet.
So piece of mind about medical bills for your family’s best friend may well be worth paying for.
‘One of the benefits of having a policy’, says Bertrand, ‘is that there are fewer constraints on ensuring that the animal is given a proper examination, such as a medical scan, which might not be easily accepted by an owner with limited budget.’
Insurance Policy Terms
The cost of policies does vary, depending on the level of cover you seek, and the type, age and health of your pet.
Ordinarily, expect to pay anything between €6 and €15 a month for a policy for a dog or a cat. If you have more than one pet then you should be able to get a substantial discount on your other pets.
Although this may not be a large cost, you do need to carefully read the contents of your policies, as there are often many exclusions and limitations.
Thus, most policies will set an upper limit on the level of the coverage, there will also frequently be an excess, and not all policies reimburse at the level of 100%.
The level of reimbursement may be as low as 40% depending on the cover you have taken out, and the age of the animal.
You may also find that if the animal frequently needs veterinary care the insurance company may be unwilling to renew the policy. There is no obligation on them to offer a renewal, and the older the animal, the tougher are their rules on offering a policy.
Some policies also exclude ailments that could be prevented by a vaccination, or the insurance company may simply require that your pet is appropriately vaccinated before they take on the policy.
In almost all cases, the insurer will be unwilling to offer immediate cover to your animal, so you are likely to find that you will need to pay for three to six months before the policy becomes operational. This period is know as the délais de carence.
Major specialist pet health insurers in France are ALOA, ChienChatSante, ECA-CALINA, EURONIMO, SANTEVET, Amimias, Mutuelle Animaux and Animaux Santé. Some of the general insurers also offer cover.
All of them offer different levels of cover, on different types of policies, so you need to do your homework.
Separately from health insurance, it is also possible to obtain public liability insurance for your pets, which can easily be accomplished through your house insurance policy, or in tandem with the pet health insurance policy.