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How To Travel With Your Pet - What Travel Insurance Do You Need?

Mar 3, 2008
As a race, we Brits are very attached to our pets. So much so that we can't even go on holiday without taking our best-friend and companion with us. Therefore, while it is essential to purchase a good travel insurance policy for yourself and your family, don't forget pet insurance - as well as pet travel insurance - for your beloved four-legged friend!

Purchasing pet insurance to cover vet bills at home is essential, but what would happen if you took your pet on holiday to another country and it went missing or was stolen? Would your ordinary pet insurance policy cover the costs if your pet needed the emergency care of a vet while there? Just as for your own travel insurance, pet travel insurance can be purchased for single trips or annual policies and multiple trips.

More and more people are choosing not to trust their best friend to pet-sitters, kennels and catteries, instead choosing to take their pets with them on holiday. Pet owners often prefer to take road-trips within the UK and there are websites, books and directories listing pet-friendly hotels which will welcome your pet. If you decide to go by car, don't forget to make sure that your Vehicle Breakdown insurance is up-to-date before you set off! You may think that all these insurance premiums are too much trouble and unnecessary, but they are a small price to pay for peace of mind - and a fraction of the price you'd pay if things should go wrong.

Pet owners can take their pet abroad with them now without all the headaches of quarantine, thanks to PETS (the Pet Travel Scheme) set up by DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). The scheme makes pet travel (cats, dogs and ferrets) easier for everyone. The scheme applies to many European Union countries and some listed non-European countries.

Your pet will need a pet passport - and photographs are optional (check on latest rules re ears up or down, tongue in or out, tail wagging in background, etc.). A pet passport is required to take any cat or dog (including assistance - seeing-eye and hearing dogs) out of the country. It is also necessary to have your pet micro-chipped. Then there will be the rabies vaccinations and blood tests in order to obtain the necessary PETS certificate. Lastly, will be treatment for tapeworms and ticks.

Be realistic about whether your pet is healthy and fit enough to make the journey as travel can be stressful for them. You'll need to buy a suitable and approved travel container. It's a nice idea to get your pet used to the container prior to the journey and put their favourite toy, or perhaps an old piece of your clothing in it. Check with the company which will be transporting your pet to make sure you have complied with their rules and regulations.

Those who choose not to take Rover or Diva on holiday with them are not off the hook either... Be warned that there are laws to protect your pet! The Animal Welfare Act came into effect in April 2007 in the UK, meaning that you have a legal responsibility to make sure your pet is cared for properly - even in your absence. Penalties for neglecting or abusing an animal could result in a fine or free room and board at one of Her Majesty's no-frills human boarding establishments.

One additional advantage of having your own travel insurance policy is that it may contain a section pertaining to pet care and provide cover for kennel or cattery fees in the event you should be delayed in returning for any reason.

Thinking about going on holiday and taking your pet with you is just the beginning of the journey - there is so much more information you need to research to ensure that the trip will be an enjoyable one for you, your family and your pet! Your travel insurance agent is a good place to start. They will be able to offer information and advice regarding all your travel insurance needs.
About the Author
Jean Andrews is a freelance writer living in the UK. She regularly contributes articles for TIA Ltd who offer travel insurance for pets, children and even adults!
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