Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Halifax lose out in pet insurance blunder

By Freddie A. Fowler

People with pets whether it is a cat a dog or even a hamster consider them as one of the family. Every year the pet owning population of the United Kingdom spend huge amounts of money to keep their pets healthy. This money goes on grooming, training, toys, food and a whole lot more too. One of the most important things which pet owners spend on is pet insurance because unfortunately pets do sometimes get ill and without insurance vet bills can be costly.

Halifax had their own pet insurance policy until very recently which was extremely popular and very useful to customers. The cover was described as "life-long" by Halifax giving customers the impression that the cover would last for life as long as they renewed it every 12 months and maintained their 10 monthly fee. Halifax however didn't stick to their description and ended people's policies when it left the pet insurance business.

A lot of Halifax's customers had pets with recurring illnesses such as skin conditions which needed regular treatment. Halifax's life-long cover meant they could claim for up to 1000 per year for treatment and so without the cover their vet bills quickly got very expensive. Following thousands of complaints the financial ombudsman service began investigating Halifax's pet insurance and their withdrawal from the business.

Because Halifax has been found guilty of mis-advertising their pet insurance policy they are now facing the possibility of thousands of compensation claims from their ex-customer. The financial ombudsman service described the issue as a major error by Halifax and one which is now likely to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to put right.

In excess of 30,000 people were paying for Halifax's life-long pet cover when the company terminated the product and of those an estimated 4,000 have pets with on-going illnesses. Halifax will now have to pay these people compensation to help them pay for pet bills but they are also likely to have to offer top-up cover to make sure that their former customer's pets can get treatment.

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