Aamina Zafar examines how insurers are responding to an increase in dog ownership and pet thefts
Pet insurers may not need to adapt their policy cover to factor in the alarming rise in dog thefts, according to
Alex Jones, pet insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, says the recent increase in pet prices was caused by the pandemic, so as the UK returns back to normal this summer, pet thefts are also expected to reduce naturally without a need for the profession to adapt or change their policies and payouts for stolen pets.
Mr Jones says: “There is no doubt that we have seen a boom in the number of pets being purchased during the pandemic. However, unfortunately, in line with this there has also been an increase in the number of thefts.
“We think the surge in cost of pets was specific to the supply-and-demand issue caused by the pandemic, which in turn led to an increase in pet ownership. However, we can expect that this will calm down and return to more normal levels. Theft of pets would also be expected to reduce in line with this, so perhaps over the longer term, this issue may resolve itself without a need for the industry to adapt or change.”
His comments will be welcome news for pet insurers, which have been criticised after cover for stolen dogs has not kept pace with puppy-price inflation. Research by Defaqto found that while the price of puppies doubled in lockdown, the amount of cover increased by just 4% on average.
Worryingly, the data found that one in six dog insurance policies provide no cover for lost or stolen pets, which means pet owners may not be paid out by their insurer if they lose their dog.
One of the family
Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, says: “Losing a dog is not like losing your bike, they are part of the family and are not just objects that can be replaced.
“When buying pet insurance, customers need to consider what they would do if they lost their dog and whether they need a policy that will cover the cost of buying a new one.”
2.2m People took ownership of a dog in the first six months of the pandemic
In contrast to the Defaqto research, Mr Jones adds that most insurers do pay out if a pet is stolen.
In fact, MoneySuperMarket’s results show that typically insurers will cover between £500 and £1,500, depending on the policy that is purchased.
Mr Jones adds: “The majority of pet insurance providers will usually pay out if your pet is stolen, lost, causes harm to a person or property, or in the event of a death caused by an accident. The amount that insurers will pay out will either be a percentage or a set amount, depending on the policy.”
The discrepancy in insurers not increasing their payouts for stolen pets may be caused by the fact that some have not witnessed a rise in claims for dog thefts.
Interestingly, a spokesperson for insurer Petplan says it has not seen an increase in the number of claims for stolen pets and as yet has not needed to make any changes to its cover.
Research from Direct Line Pet Insurance has found that an estimated 2,438 dogs were reported as stolen to police forces in the UK last year. This is the equivalent of seven dogs being reported stolen every day and marks a 19% increase from 2019.
Interestingly, the analysis found that Staffordshire Bull Terriers were the most popular breed of dog targeted by thieves, with 97 such dogs stolen in 2020.
This comes as 2.2 million people took ownership of a dog in the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic. The average amount spent on a dog was just a little more than £800, although 11% of pet owners spent more than £1,500.
This is why Direct Line Pet Insurance’s cover level is currently set at £1,500; however, this figure is constantly under review to ensure that its policies reflect its customers’ requirements.
According to Defaqto, not every dog that goes missing is stolen and many are lost every day because they run off in a park or forest to chase another animal and then are not able to find their owner again. That is why 82% of pet insurance policies now provide cover to help pet owners get their dog back. Typical cover limits are in the range £500 to £1,500, with 3% giving more than £1,500 of cover. The average amount is £845, which is usually enough for the owner to make some posters and put an advert in the local paper.
Aamina Zafar is a freelance journalist
Image Credit | iStock
While the price of puppies doubled in lockdown, the amount of cover increased by just 4% on average.
- One in six dog insurance policies provide no cover for lost or stolen pets.
- Typically, insurers will cover between £500 and £1,500
- Some 2,438 dogs were reported stolen to police forces in the UK last year.
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers were the most popular breed of dog targeted by thieves, with 97 such dogs stolen in 2020.
- Some 2.2 million people took ownership of a dog in the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The average amount spent on a dog was just over £800, although 11% of pet owners spent more than £1,500.