When choosing a reliable pet insurance provider, many consumers like to stick to what they know. So when one of the largest UK retail and grocery brands offers a range of pet insurance options, a recognisable brand name can appear as a safe haven in a sea of unfamiliarity. But is this high street giant a key player in the pet insurance scene, or are there better options out there?

Providing the right health care for your furry friend is an important decision for all pet owners, and it is well worth shopping around to determine which pet insurance provider offers the best value, and best service, for your pets’ needs. While big names such as Tesco might appear a safe bet, it is important to know that other options are available to you, each with their own unique advantages. 

In this review, we’ll be highlighting the key benefits provided by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance, and comparing these to other alternatives on the market. As pet insurance experts, Emerald Life are here to help steer you into a direction that is right for you.

So if you decide that Tesco’s offering just isn’t right, why not consider Emerald as a flexible, customer-focused service that can give you that peace of mind, and all the benefits that true industry experts can provide.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance – an introduction

Tesco moved into the banking and insurance space back in 1997. Underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance, it covers car and home insurance policies, as well as pet insurance, which is the focus of this article. 

Since its inception, Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has embarked on a campaign to drive new customers, through its tongue-in-cheek marketing campaigns, as well as its bonuses and incentives. Its 2017 TV ad, featuring dogs and cats running amok during a ‘focus group’, earned a lot of laughs, and presumably a fair few customers, as its ‘approved by pets’ messaging seems to hit the spot among animal lovers. 

One of the main advantages Tesco PLC possess is undoubtedly their scale, and their bevy of other banking and shopping services, meaning loyal customers can sign up to their Pet Insurance offering and feel the benefits of a multi-service, multi-discount customer account. 

As of now, their Clubcard Members, standing at approximately 17 million according to recent estimates, are in line to receive a ‘guaranteed’ discount when taking out a policy. Cleverly, this discount also works in the opposite direction, with existing Pet Insurance customers earning 3000 Clubcard points (equivalent to a £30 saving on your groceries). 

Whether or not these marketing perks are backed up by their overall insurance proposition will be determined as we later discuss the main policies currently provided by Tesco Pet Insurance. 

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance – their policies

Like many other providers, Tesco offer a tiered range of pet insurance policies geared to benefit different pet owners depending on their needs. Ranging from their ‘Accident and injury’ option to their ‘Premier’ option, each policy offers a sliding scale of cover, varying in their vet fee limit, their time period, and the extra benefits that are available for the higher premium options. 

One pricing feature which will encourage many pet owners, particularly those who might’ve experienced issues in the past, relates to their fixed excess charges, with £60 a consistent charge across all of their policy options. For those not overly experienced in the pet insurance world, it can be difficult to grasp the cost-benefit implications of excess vs premiums, so keeping it at a set level may help provide a bit more clarity, particularly for newcomers. 

In addition, Tesco provides additional dental cover, as long as it is the result of an accident. This is one inclusion not always seen for pet insurance providers, and those looking for extra peace of mind will benefit from having this extra option on the table. 

But these options aren’t available for all pets. Exclusions do exist. Its policy document, obtainable through its website, outlines these in further detail. But to save you some reading time, when you could be playing with your pet (!) these are summarised below. 

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance – their exclusions

Before doing any further research into Tesco’s insurance offering, it is important to check out their list of exclusions, to see the various situations in which the company may refuse your insurance applications. 

From the outset, pets must be at least eight weeks old when cover starts, with any pre-existing injuries and illnesses not covered. Their website goes on to state ‘illnesses which you or your vet were aware of within the first 14 days of your policy first starting, or any illness that develops from them are not covered. Cruciate problems which you or your vet were aware of in the first 14 days of your policy first starting however caused, or any arthritis, illness or injury that develops from them are not covered.’

They also have an excluded dog breeds list, which includes ‘any pedigree, cross or mixed breed of the following: Pit Bull, Pit Bull type, Japanese Tosa, Fila Braziliero, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Wolf or Wolf Hybrid’, and ‘any breed not on [their] breed list unless we have agreed to cover it’. 

While this list of exclusions won’t apply to most pet owners, it is worth reviewing their policy documents to make sure they are happy to insure your pet, before proceeding in the decision making process. 

Accident and Injury Policy

Like most pet insurance providers, Tesco includes this option as the basic level of cover, paying out for emergency medical treatment up to a lower limit. Its vet fee limit for this option currently stands at £3000, alongside an excess of £60 for each accident or injury. 

The time limit for this option is 12 months from the first date of treatment, or until the vet fee limit is used up, whichever happens first. 

Standard

The next step up in terms of cover, the ‘standard’ option, also covers vet fee limits up to £3000, but grants the following additional features:

  • Lost pet cover (towards the cost of locating a lost pet) up to £1000
  • Additional cover for illness
  • Saying goodbye (towards the cost of putting a pet to sleep, and their burial or cremation) up to £200
  • Pet care cover in case you’re unwell (for hospital stays of more than 4 days)
  • Pet travel cover
  • As well as death from accident or illness, with the company refunding the price you donated for them. 

Extra

The ‘extra’ option provided by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance includes the full list of benefits listed above, but raises the vet fee limit to either £4,000 or £7,500. It also comes without the 12 month time limit, lasting instead ‘until the vet fees limit is used up for each accident or illness, if your policy is renewed and there is no break in cover and your premiums are paid.’ 

Without the time-constraint, this option will be most suitable for pet owners that want to provide for longer-term issues that might arise later down the line. Customers also get the added flexibility that comes from the different vet fee limits available, with both figures representing a good middle ground in terms of their overall product offering. 

Premier

As their most comprehensive, and most flexible policy in terms of vet fee limits, Tesco Bank Pet Insurance appears to place the most emphasis on its Premier option. Consumers have a range of choices when it comes to the fee limits. With options including £2,000, £4,000, £7,500, or £10,000, most pet owners will see a lot to love in this kind of flexibility. 

Including all the additional features listed above, as well as the £60 excess payable for each illness or each policy year, the premium option offers the most peace of mind for a pets’ future healthcare requirements. 

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance – our verdict

With the popularised slogan ‘every little counts’, it seems Tesco Bank Pet Insurance delivers multiple benefits and incentives throughout its products, particularly targeted at newcomers. By offering a 20% discount for new members, discounts for multiple pets, and benefits for existing Tesco customers, many will be tempted into taking out a policy, without necessarily undertaking the full research required. 

While Tesco’s product list may appear simple and flexible enough for customers, those considering taking out a policy should be aware of their exclusions, as well as other restrictions not explicitly mentioned on its website or policy documents. 

One possible red flag for some pet insurance customers is the limitations offered by its veterinary services provider. Alongside Like More Than and John Lewis, Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is provided by RSA. As a result, all non-emergency treatment for pets insured with Tesco needs to be carried out by a vet in RSA’s “Preferred Referral Network”.

If a Tesco Pet Insurance customer has their pet treated by a vet outside the network, they are liable for the first £200 of any successful claim (in addition to the policy excess). Consumers are therefore recommended to do their own research on the potential limitations of this network, specifically – determining how the ease and convenience of its offering compares to that from other providers.

Emerald Life Pet Insurance provides free 24/7 veterinary services through FirstVet, allowing policy holders an advantage in accessibility and communication that might not be provided through other insurance companies. 

While its pet insurance policy range appears to be quite comprehensive, with its policy options well tailored to the typical needs of pet owners, it is also worth checking out some of the other alternatives on the market. Including a well stacked feature list can be tempting at first glance, but determining if these extras are truly necessary for you is an important process to discover if a policy is right for you. Quite often, consumers can experience higher premiums due to such incentives, many of which are never used throughout the lifetime of a policy.

If you want to discover a pet insurance solution where such extras exist instead as flexible add-ons, why not take a look at the coverage provided by Emerald Life pet insurance. Here, users can sign up for the basics, determine their primary level of cover, and then decide which bolt-ons are important to them.

This can provide an extra layer of flexibility in a market where the one-size-fits-all approach is all too common. For example, the Emerald Cover covers all the necessary basics of pet insurance, with consumers able to select such extras as optional third party liability and travel cover, as well as additions such as cover for theft, including advertising and reward costs. 

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance – Online reviews

As its website makes clear, Tesco’s Premier Cover is 5 Star rated by Defaqto. Defaqto is an independent researcher of financial products who provide intelligence to support better decision making. However, its user generated reviews are mixed. An unofficial ‘Pet Tescobank’ Trustpilot page currently has a rating of 2.5/5, while its petinsurancereview.co.uk entry is currently rated at 2.1./5.

The most common problems reported by users include their refusal to pay out for certain conditions, particularly dental, as well as the mounting costs associated with renewing a policy.

We’ll be delving into these issues in more detail below, but it should also be mentioned that – while other pet insurance companies can be quite proactive at addressing these concerns in the comments section online, Tesco have been comparatively slack in clearing up these issues, at least publicly.

While spending time on online reviews could be considered time wasted by some pet insurance companies, putting in the effort to respond to each one in detail usually gives a good indication of how seriously a customer service team takes its complaints. 

While the ‘rejected claim’ issue can perhaps be attributed to customers not realising the full limitations and exclusions of a policy, the frequency of such complaints could bely a more inherent issue with the way such policies are communicated. In these cases, clearer communication on the website’s front end could come in useful, rather than just cramming all the detail into the policy document.

The world of pet insurance can be confusing, particularly for newcomers, and – combined with the stress of their pet experiencing health problems – customers can feel aggrieved at the company for not paying out as expected. While each specific case can vary, Tesco Bank Pet Insurance can’t be completely unaccountable for the high number of reviewers who have reported unfair dealing from their provider. 

Regarding the renewal costs, this is a commonly reported issue when it comes to pet insurance providers, particularly for those that promise a lot at the start, and then proceed to underdeliver. For existing customers, it may feel like more resource and emphasis is spent on acquiring new customers, through bonuses and incentives, rather than keeping current policy-holders happy.

One Tesco Pet Insurance reviewer reported unfair renewal costs after they experienced a premium that doubled in price. After speaking to a customer service representative, they were told it was due to the dog’s age. The dog’s age was 2. Such baffling price hikes can turn a lot of customers away, as well as draw the ire of disgruntled consumers online. 

When signing up for a pet insurance provider, one of the main features to look for is transparency. While incentives for new users can prove attractive at the start, leading you to believe you’ve signed up to a good deal, you should make sure that you won’t have to pay for extortionate increases in your premium. To determine whether or not a company is liable to spring such traps on consumers, it helps to understand exactly what you’re signing up for, especially over the long term.

At Emerald Life Pet Insurance, we pride ourselves on delivering excellent value for the customer. We make sure that our incentives for new users are always backed up by quality performance over the long haul. In this way, choosing a pet insurance provider is more than just a one-off purchase – it’s a journey. By maintaining a high standard of communication, and a competitively priced service throughout a pet’s lifetime, we make sure that this journey is as comfortable and hassle-free as possible. 

If you’re looking for a more seamless pet insurance experience with attentive customer service and premiums that won’t catch you out, consider speaking to one of our team. In just a quick phone call, a friendly staff member will be able to guide you through the full process, determine which policy is right for you, and give you a competitive quote. You’re just one call away from getting that peace of mind that all pet owners crave. 

FAQ

Is Tesco Pet Insurance any good?

As mentioned above, reviews are mixed. Despite having a 5 star rating by independent researcher Defaqto, its user-submitted reviews across Trustpilot and petinsurancereview.co.uk currently stand at 2.5 and 2.1 respectively. As always, it is up to the customer to carry out their own research into Tesco’s policies, while being mindful of some of the issues many policy-holders are reporting online. 

Is Tesco Premier Pet Insurance lifetime cover?

Yes. According to its website, ‘Vet fees limits are per year and are reinstated annually, if your policy is renewed and there is no break in cover and your premiums are paid.’

Emerald Life Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is registered in England and Wales.

Filing notes: Tesco pet insurance/Tesco pet cover/Tesco insurance

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Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47981954