Brits prioritise pet health over their own

Dogs and other pets are more than man’s best friend — so much so that most Brits placed a greater emphasis on their health than their own as the pandemic raged and tens of thousands were affected.

That’s according to a survey from Drewberry Insurance that found people have bought more pet insurance in the last year than life, critical illness or health policies for themselves.

It’s no surprise that the UK is a country of dog lovers but around 3.2 million homes in the UK have what’s branded a “pandemic pet” that helped them with mental traumas surrounding the health emergency, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association says.

Among 34 million pets, it counted 12 million dogs in the UK in 2021, 12 million cats and 1.3 million birds kept indoors. Brits’ other animals include 1.2 million domestic fowl, 1 million rabbits and 800,000 guinea pigs, the association’s figures reveal.

People were also snapping up pet health insurance for among 600,000 hamsters, half a million horses and ponies — and the same number of pigeons.

Pets take back seat to cars

But pets were not the only prized possession Brits were shelling out insurance for last year. Cars were the top priority, followed by insurance for homes and then pets, Drewberry’s Pandemic Health & Protection Survey found.

And during the pandemic, Brits were also thinking about their bank balances, with the majority of those who took part in the YouGov survey of 1,000 UK adults (60%) saying they were now more concerned about their finances and having enough cash. A further 56% were intending to put more by each month, so their nest egg would grow.

Perhaps surprisingly, the demographic most worried about their financial stability was social media-addicted millennials, the poll found, at 52% of those in this 25-30-year-old bracket — compared to 39% of those aged over 60.

Will insurance firms pay up?

It was less-than-good news for insurance companies, however, because a big portion of respondents — 44% — had a negative view of whether they would actually pay out if presented with a covid-19 related claim.

Meanwhile, most (63%) said they had been able to put away more money during the pandemic, possibly because of lockdowns and being largely confined to home — some welcome good news amid the gloom.

The vast majority, however, held the view that insurance covering life, critical illness, health and income protection was more pricey now due to the pandemic. And good-minded Brits are also selflessly thinking about buying health insurance to help take the strain off the overburdened NHS, at 20% of respondents.

A will and a way

The once-in-a-generation pandemic has made nearly one-third of those polled think about making a will — possibly because they’re considering their own mortality for the first time.

Drewberry director Tom Conner said the pandemic has made people consider the kinds of things they insure, and that cancelling policies could risk trouble ahead.

“There are lots of free benefits attached to insurance policies, including access to digital GP services, gym and high street store discounts and many more,” he said. “So it can have a big and negative impact if you cancel, including on your pets and your income, should you find yourself out of work.”

He advised that people struggling amid the cost-of-living crisis – many millions around the UK – should contact their insurance company and see if they can get a better deal on their policy.