Our dog is part of the family and they are treated as such. So if you move home then of course the dog comes along too, right?! So how much does it cost to take care of your dog if you find yourself in Switzerland? Should you insure your dog? If so, then who provides the best insurance and do the providers all offer the same cover?
The Cost of Owning a Dog in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the more expensive countries to live, and so the cost of providing even the basic care for your dog can be expensive here. Dog food alone, can easily come to 100 CHF per month for a single dog!
We have added up the cost of food, toys, paying for any training that your dog might need, collars, leads and other clothing together with grooming and grooming products. Then we added dog taxes ( which vary by commune – don’t even get me started on this topic!), anti-parasite treatments and visits to the vet and any subsequent treatments. The basic costs of dog ownership can easily reach 1,500 CHF per year and per dog!
Are vet visits expensive in Switzerland?
To be fair, vet costs are not as expensive as you might think, however they soon add up. A blood test here, can cost between 100 and 1000 CHF depending what it is for. Repairing a broken bone may cost as much as 3000CHF. Treating a torn ligament will cost between 1500 to 2500 CHF and radiation therapy for cancer will cost around 3000CHF. These costs do vary according to exactly where in Switzerland you live, but in any case, they represent a significant outlay. Add to this the cost of keeping your elderly dog comfortable when arthritis sets in or a long terms health issue strikes, and it will probably start to hurt!
How much does pet insurance cost ?
Again, based on our experience in the UK, the cost of insuring your dog here is not so bad. There are not many providers, although they are on the increase, but their cover and terms vary widely. At the time of writing this blog there are 5 main insurers.
- Epona – who underwrite their own policies
- Animalia – underwritten by Vaudoise
- Generali – who underwrite their own policies
- Wau-Miauw – underwritten by Europaische Travel Insurance
- Helvetica – who underwrite their own policies
There are two types of dog insurance policy available in Switzerland, accident insurance which covers the cost of treating injuries following an accident, and health insurance which covers the cost of veterinary treatment for both accident and illness. Four out of the five providers provide combined coverage if required.
What you Should Know about Swiss Pet Insurance
There are several important things to consider when comparing the insurance cover offered by the different companies;
Age of your Dog
All companies offer insurance for dogs from 3 months old. Epona actually offer cover from 2 months of age. However not all companies offer cover for older dogs. In fact only Epona and Animalia offer cover for new dogs over 6 years old.
- Epona have no extra charge for a dog’s age but they do ask for a veterinary health check before accepting dogs over 5 years old. They also reserve the right to increase the premium after three years if they feel that the cost of claims has been above average over the lifetime of the policy.
- Animalia include age bands in their policies and the price will increase each time the dog reaches the next bracket, which is typically every two years from their third birthday. They will however not accept a new dog over 9 years old. This leaves Epona as the only option for insuring a dog over 9 years old for the first time.
The Sum Insured
Some companies limit the amount per year, that they will pay towards the covered expenses.
- Epona – upper limit of 50,000 CHF per year, depending on the policy.
- Helvetia – cover up to two dogs per policy which is good for multi dog households but have a limit of 5,000 CHF per year.
- Wau-Miauw – limit of 5,000 CHF per year.
- Anamalia – no limit
- Generali – 5,000 CHF per year.
The Franchise or Excess
Most companies offer a variety of options but there is always a part of the cost per claim that you will have to pay before the insurance company will begin to reimburse your costs. You can normally choose between 0 and 1,000 CHF. Once this has been deducted from your claim then the insurance company will then normally pay only a percentage of the remaining cost. Typically, this will be between 60 and 90% of the balance.
As a rule of thumb, the higher the percentage paid by the company and the lower your franchise, and the older and sicker your dog is, then the higher the cost of your policy will be. They have to make money at the end of the day, right?
Level of Cover
The level of cover varies hugely. Many companies will vary what they cover according to the cost of the policy. All providers have several, and a couple have multiple, options. So it pays to read the detail and take your time to choose the right cover to suit your pet and your budget!
As with all insurance policies there are exclusions and these too vary according to the provider and the level of cover that you choose. None of the available options will cover pre-existing conditions immediately, however some will cover certain long term illnesses after a qualifying period…. See below
- Epona – 6 months for chronic disease and 12 months for congenital and/or birth defects.
- Animalia– hereditary and congenital diseases after 90 days for their Comfort policy
- Wau-Miauw – chronic illness after 90 days and issues associated with a torn ligament after 365 days.
No policies, as a matter of course, cover aesthetic surgery, dental care or psychotherapy. Neither do they cover injuries caused by a liable third party or illness resulting from gross negligence on the part of the dog owner. Animalia however do have a cover option that covers dental descaling, but they are the only one.
Alternative Medicine Treatments
These are increasing in popularity and effectiveness, but these are not always covered, certainly not on the basic level policies. In addition, there is usually a cap on the amount that will be paid out for this type of treatment per year.
- Animalia – 600CHF per year
- Wiau-Miauw – cover 90% of all homeopathic, acupuncture, acupressure and osteopathy treatments within the normal cover limits of your policy.
- Epona – have options that will cover 60-90% of homeopathic, acupuncture and osteopathy administered by a vet up to a limit of 600 CHF / 10 sessions pa. In their premium policy, they also cover psychotherapy and behavioral disorders up to 200CHF per year.
In general these are not included, but Epona and Animalia do have options that offer 50/60CHF towards this annual cost.
Based on a 5 year old dog with a 500CHF excess, the annual premiums range from 238 CHF for Generali to 570 CHF for Helvetia ( for up to two dogs). Both these however, have a limit of 5,000 CHF cover for the year and neither will cover an older dog.
Epona and Animalia have a similar annual premium of around 340 CHF for a much higher level of annual cover and both will cover an older animal too. Wau-Miauw is expensive at 510 CHF for a 5,000CHF cover. This also includes travel insurance for your pet.
So which Insurer should I choose?
If you have a dog aged over 7 then there is really only one choice in terms of affordability and cove. This would be Epona! The premium does not change as the dog gets older, unless the claims are substantial after 3 years with them. They have a high level of annual cover and options that will allow you to insure your pet to cover for alternative therapies.
Animalia fall into second place because their premiums increase along with the dogs age and they do not accept new dogs over 9 years old.
For a puppy or dog younger than 7, then Animalia and Epona are the two that make the most sense in terms of value for money. The unlimited cover and 90-day qualification period for hereditary/ congenital disease with Animalia is very attractive. With Epona you have to wait for 12 months before your cover will include these diseases. However the cover of 50,000 CHF pa is more than sufficient for most pet cover requirements. Epona have had a terrible year in terms of customer service and claim settlement, although this seems to be getting better since the start of this year. We have heard no complaints regarding settlement from Animalia customers, over this period.Some of the other providers mentioned do have a reputation for looking for loop holes to avoid a payout – so take care.
How can The Woof Club help you?
We hope that this blog will help you negotiate the difficult process of finding the right insurance policy for your pet here in Switzerland. Please let us know your thoughts and experiences on this difficult topic. You can contact us on email@example.com or leave a comment on this page.
To help with the ongoing monthly costs of dog ownership why not take a look at our Monthly Subscription Boxes. We deliver to your door every month, the essential monthly toys and treats, fully personalized to suit your pet. – so, you save time and money and discover new things with your pet.
We look forward to welcoming you to The Woof Club!