Prominent pet insurance company PetGuard has recently canceled hundreds of policies, leaving many pet owners without cover even though they paid a hefty premium to secure a “lifetime” policy. The company recently changed its underwriter, and after doing so gave hundreds of customers a three weeks’ notice that their policies would not be renewed.
Perhaps most appalling to PetGuard policyholders is the fact that they have paid higher premiums for an extended period of time specifically to ensure that they would have continual assistance in the event their pet is diagnosed with a chronic condition (i.e. – arthritis or diabetes).
Unfortunately, any customers that have a pet who has already been diagnosed with a pre-existing injury or illness will not be covered under a replacement policy if they decide to renew coverage with PetGaurd. A spokesperson for PetGaurd defended the company’s position stating that pet insurance contracts are only valid for 12-month periods, and that lifetime cover is still based on yearly renewals.
While it is technically true that the company has not revoked a service that was already paid for, they have charged their customers a premium to ensure “lifetime” cover, despite the fact that they really had no protection from having their policy canceled at any time.
There are no shortage of pet insurers in the UK, with more than 85 providers currently offering hundreds of policy options for pet owners. Nonetheless, many disgruntled customers are not leaving without a fight, and complaints have already been brought before the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The complaints mainly state that the definitions and policy terms were not clearly explained at the time of purchasing the policy, and/or that PetGaurd unjustly terminated coverage without giving customers the opportunity to retain the “lifetime” cover that they had been paying a premium for.