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SALLY SORTS IT: Sainsbury’s pet insurance refused £950 emergency vet expenses


We’ve three dogs, all of which were insured with Animal Friends.

When the renewal for Leia, our miniature dachshund, got here up recently, we couldn’t afford the leap within the premiums, so we searched for a latest policy.

On December 6, I chosen Sainsbury’s Bank, with a policy start date of January 1, 2023, the date her Animal Friends policy ended.

Denied: Sainsbury’s pet insurance initially refused to cover the vet bill when a customer’s miniature dachshund became unwell

All seemed straightforward, until January 10, when she began being sick and vomiting blood.

I called Sainsbury’s 24/7 vet adviser who said to take her to the emergency vet. On the best way, Leia began bleeding from her hindquarters.

To chop an extended story short, I paid £950 for her treatment, for what we considered poisoning of some kind. I wasn’t apprehensive concerning the bills due to insurance.

But our claim was denied, because of exclusions applied in the primary 14 days of the policy. Please help as we just cannot afford to pay this huge sum of cash.

T. H., Broadstairs, Kent.

Sally Hamilton replies: You believed you were being a responsible owner by taking out a policy to cover vets’ bills within the event of Leia having an accident or falling unwell.

But when disaster struck, soon after signing up, you felt as sick as your poor dog when Sainsbury’s — whose pet plans are underwritten by Pinnacle Insurance — growled at your claim since the incident occurred through the policy’s 14-day waiting period.

Many insurers apply a waiting period on the onset of a policy. That is to discourage owners from taking out cover only when a pet falls unwell.

Nevertheless, there have been two facets of this case that I believed might encourage Sainsbury’s to rethink its decision. The policy’s terms and conditions say there are exceptions to the waiting period rule.

There isn’t a cut-off date if the pet suffers an accident and, if an incident involves poisoning, then it’s three days.

Your vet couldn’t determine precisely what had caused Leia’s sickness but surely, I believed, it couldn’t be ruled out she had eaten something poisonous, and by accident?

You could not make sure what Leia had been as much as within the hours before she became unwell because this era coincided with one other emergency.

Your husband had cut his finger badly that day on a circular saw and also you each spent the evening at hospital while your son kept guard at home.

For all you knew, Leia had eaten something she shouldn’t have.

Fortunately, Leia made it through the next night. She needed to spend the remaining of the following day on the surgery but, by the evening, she was well enough to return home.

I contacted Sainsbury’s Bank in your behalf and requested it re-examine your claim. Just a few days later it got here back with excellent news.

A Sainsbury’s Bank spokesman says: ‘We were sorry to listen to about Leia’s illness.

‘While our policy states that claims for illness can’t be made until after 14 days, we have received additional details about this case and have decided to pay the claim in full.’

A vital additional factor that influenced this result was that you just essentially had no gap in cover between if you moved out of your previous insurer Animal Friends to Sainsbury’s, helped by the actual fact Leia’s sickness didn’t seem like related to a pre-existing condition.

You were mightily relieved and told me that without my input you’ll have still been nursing a £950 bill.

Straight to the purpose 

I recently renewed my BT broadband account.

I since discovered I’m eligible for a Wi-Fi discount as my wife is disabled, but I actually have been told I might must pay £300 to transfer the account into her name as I’m three days over the cooling-off period.

K.H., via email.

BT apologises and has moved the account into your wife’s name for free of charge.

Your monthly bill has been reduced from £37 to £15 a month with all the identical conditions.


In September, my wife and I went on a P&O cruise for our golden wedding anniversary. 

We had booked a visit to Guernsey but couldn’t go as we each caught Covid. P&O assured us that we might receive a refund but we’re still waiting.

J.A., Bromsgrove.

P&O has refunded the £130 tour fee.


Last 12 months my son bought two monitors from Currys’ eBay site for £300 but they each broke soon after delivery. 

He returned the items but remains to be waiting for a refund.

A.P., via email.

Currys apologises for the delay and has sent you a full refund and £100 as a gesture of goodwill, which you’ve accepted.

Your experience underlines the importance of establishing a latest policy to start out as soon as one other ends. Some insurers, comparable to ManyPets (formerly Bought By Many) robotically waive the waiting period in situations like yours, where cover is continuous.

This can be a sensible approach as otherwise owners could be discouraged from switching to raised insurance deals.

Nevertheless, at all times look out for pitfalls when moving pet insurer, especially if a furry friend has pre-existing health conditions. Give policy terms and conditions an intensive sniff.

Beware policy exclusions and canopy limits 

Even then, limits on cover, and treatment exclusions in certain policies, can come as an expensive shock.

Reader S.A., from the West Midlands, remains to be reeling from the news that the family’s pet Kangal puppy, Reign, which joined the family in September 2022, developed a limp just before Christmas and now requires potentially £12,000 of medical procedures to interchange two hips after being diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a condition where the joints don’t develop properly.

Her owner was devastated to read in her policy from PDSA, that prosthetics (artificial joints) are usually not covered. Even in the event that they were, the utmost cover on her lifetime policy is just £3,500.

Greater than £500 has already been used up on X-rays and diagnosis bills. She told me the family cannot afford to satisfy these costs and are devastated that euthanasia is perhaps the unthinkable option. 

cost of living

As a substitute, they try to lift funds, with the kids organising sponsored events and a GoFundMe page. To this point this has raised £500, together with £500 from other sources.

Feeling her desperation, I contacted PDSA Pet Insurance on her behalf, asking if it could help discover a lower-cost arrangement.

The insurer re-examined her case and, a couple of days later, got here back with some barely higher news. It was sorry that the terms and conditions weren’t clearer but said it might pay for Reign’s treatment, including a contribution towards her latest hips.

But this shall be limited to the remaining cover on the policy of about £2,500, which still leaves a big shortfall.

A PDSA Pet Insurance spokesman says: ‘We’re very sorry to listen to about Reign’s hip condition.

‘We know the way worrying it will probably be for owners when their pet becomes unwell or requires veterinary treatment. Hip replacements are covered by our policies, subject to straightforward terms and conditions and individual policy cover limits.’

A proportion of premiums the insurer receives goes to the PDSA charity, which helps owners on low incomes who struggle with veterinary costs.

But to qualify without spending a dime treatments and medications (for one pet only), owners must live within the postcode catchment area of considered one of its pet hospitals and be on means-tested housing profit, council tax support or universal credit with housing element.

Lower-cost vet fees are offered to those on other advantages. Discover more at pdsa.org.uk. Charity Blue Cross offers the same service at bluecross.org.uk. Many vets also offer payment plans to assist spread bills.

Reign’s owner is now shopping around to see if she will be able to discover a lower fee for the procedure but desires to wait until May, when Reign turns one, before proceeding. This provides time for Reign to develop, plus gives her owner a probability to lift more funds and save her life. She shall be given pain relief within the meantime.

Death profit went unpaid 

The lack of a pet is felt keenly by all owners and though money doesn’t remove the pain, a death profit is something many insurers offer, covering either the entire price paid for the animal, or in some cases a percentage.

An age limit might apply, of say, eight years for a dog. Nevertheless, one reader wrote to me of his grievance when his insurer Animal Friends paid only £500 for his £1,800 Chihuahua puppy Alfie, who tragically died after he was attacked by two Huskies last 12 months.

He calculated he must have been paid £1,350 because his policy stated a death good thing about 75 pc of the value paid if the pet dies before the age of three. He complained to the insurer but heard nothing.

I contacted Animal Friends on his behalf, and it quickly agreed to pay the additional £850 owed.

A spokesman says: ‘We pride ourselves on our customer support and we’re sorry that we missed the unique email from the shopper querying the settlement paid.’ 

Owners should keep any receipts for the acquisition of a pet, even when it was a donation made to a rescue charity.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email sally@dailymail.co.uk — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to check with Sally Hamilton. Please don’t send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No obligation will be accepted by the Day by day Mail for answers given. 

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