For most pet owners, living near a top vet would be seen as a positive. Yet it could cost them dearly when they insure their animal.
Insurers are using granular location data to identify pet insurance customers that live near so-called "super-vets" and are increasing these customers' premiums to cover the risk of a huge veterinary bill.
Consumers are demanding higher standards of care for their pets and the most sophisticated vets are now offering MRI or CT scans and giving animals the kind of life-extending treatments usually reserved for humans. All of these treatments cost money, however, and this is being passed on to customers in insurance premiums.
There are a relatively small number of these super-vets across the country so insurers are able to isolate these risks and pass the expenses on to those policyholders who live near a top practice.
Data from price comparison site Money Supermarket shows it would cost nearly three times as much to insure a 4-year old Labrador in Paddington, London (£585 p.a.) vs insuring the same dog in Dumfries in Scotland (£199 p.a.). Although part of this is owing to the higher cost of living in London vs elsewhere in the UK, big bills from super-vets are a major reason as well.
In general, the better the vet and the more advanced their techniques, the more likely it is your pet will have expensive treatments and the longer they will live. This pushes up premiums. “There’s a new breed of vet — they are doing amazing stuff to fix your pet — but they are expensive,” said Rose Howarth, head of pet insurance at Moneysupermarket. “If you get referred to a super-vet your insurer could be facing a £20,000 claim, and they see that as a big risk.” [MTech Note: Before you click through - you must be a subscriber to The Times to read the article in full]