Emma Lewell-Buck MP signed a petition last week to be sent to the Chief Executives of RSA and Tesco, expressing concern about changes to their pet insurance policies that restrict the options of constituents when it comes to the care of their pets.
Insurance providers RSA, MoreThan and Tesco have adopted a “preferred referral network” that limit customers to one of 28 referral centres nationwide in cases where advanced care or operations are needed.
Critics have slammed the idea as pet owners are left to face a £200 charge if they take their pet to a vet not on the network, and argue it will damage standards of care for sick animals whilst also removing choice for worried animal lovers.
Emma has criticised the coverage of the network as it excludes many of the UK’s leading specialists. There is just one preferred centre in the North East, which is clearly inadequate and will result in significant inconvenience and increased travel time for local people.
“These pet insurance policy changes are a worrying development for pet owners, as it is the first time providers have sought to limit advanced care options for pets on the grounds of cost.
“People in South Shields would have to take their sick pet to Cramlington, not easy to get to without transport, regardless of whether it provides the best care for their pet. Pet owners quite rightly expect their insurance company to cover the most appropriate care and not quibble about cost or demand extra payments at the point of need.
I am calling on RSA, MoreThan and Tesco to look again at their recent insurance policy changes and to return to a model that puts vet guided decision making back at the heart of pet care.”
Emma has also expressed concern that the preferred referral network has been introduced without clear communication and that most customers remain unaware of the limitations of their policy until they need to make a claim.
Professor Dick White, one of the country’s leading vets and a spokesman for Vets for Choice, a campaign group which is calling on RSA and Tesco to scrap the policy changes, said:
“RSA has adopted the same mentality to caring for much-loved pets as it has getting a car fixed. But as animal lovers will testify, the two do not compare.
“Choice should not be confined to a list of practices provided by an insurance company – particularly as some of the practices on the RSA list do not even employ specialists.”
The group has launched a petition which can be found at: http://bit.ly/1Th5dyu