Consumer: £602m poorly pets bill is costing the insurers

Pet insurers are paying out �1.65m a day in the UK.
Pet insurers are paying out �1.65m a day in the UK.
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Pet insurers are paying out £1.65 million a day to treat the nation’s animals - and owners are more likely to insure their dogs than their cats.

Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that across the UK, firms paid out £602 million-worth of claims in 2014.

The figure is an increase of nearly 15 per cent on the previous year and equates to payments worth £1.65 million a day being made.

The number of UK animals covered by pet insurance policies has now passed 3.5 million, the ABI said.

It said that around 2.4 million dogs are covered by pet insurance, out of an estimated dog population of nine million - meaning around one in four dogs is covered.

Meanwhile, some 1.2 million cats are covered by insurance, out of the estimated cat population of 7.9 million.

This equates to around one in six cats being covered by pet insurance.

Insurers are also providing cover for more than 250,000 other pets such as horses, rabbits and exotic animals such as snakes, the ABI 
said.

Among the claims insurers have dealt with recently are a kitten that needed to have its stomach pumped and was treated with antibiotics after falling into a toilet.

The total bill was around £600.

Meanwhile, a tortoise was treated for a digestive disorder at a cost of more than £560 and treatment to help a cockatiel which was having trouble flying properly cost nearly £500.

Mark Shepherd, general insurance manager at the ABI, said: “The cost of getting quality veterinary treatment for your pet can quickly reach into thousands of pounds.”

The UK is a nation of devoted pet lovers.

One recent study estimated that as a country, we own 20 to 25 million fish in tanks, 8.5 million dogs (a quarter of all households) and the same number of cats.

We also care for a million rabbits, the same amount of caged birds and half a million guinea pigs.

Tim Marshall has travelled the world covering foreign affairs for Sky News.

How Leeds United fan Tim Marshall went from painting and decorating to broadcasting from war zones