Couple's £4,000 pet insurance claim refused due to dog being 'overweight'

A Bridgwater couple face a vet bill of thousands of pounds for the treatment of their dog after their insurance company refused to pay out because the dog is overweight.

That’s despite the vet writing to the company to say there’s no known link between a dog being overweight and the condition that Sam and Lauren Tucker’s dog Frank had.

In March Frank was paralysed by a spinal condition which saw him lose the use of his legs, bladder and bowels. He needed expert and expensive vet treatment to save him.

He is slowly getting back to nearly-normal and Lauren and Sam thought the majority of the bill would be covered by their pet insurance only to find out the company refused to pay the £4,000 claim.

Frank's condition is improving, despite him being paralysed earlier this year

Sam said: "Our local vet never told us that he's overweight. I've since had phone calls with the vet, and he's told me personally that he doesn't consider him to be obese.

"He might be a little bit heavier than usual, but he's a bigger dog than average for a sausage dog."

ITV News has seen emails and letters Lauren and Sam have received from both the company, Perfect Pet Insurance and the vet.

Their policy states that a holder is not insured for "...any claims resulting from your pet being medically overweight or underweight and this results in your pet needing treatment as a result of not being the recommended medical weight for its age, breed, type and sex as recommended by a Vet".

However the vet wrote to Perfect Pet Insurance in support of the couple to say: "Dachshunds are chondrodystrophic dogs which sadly are reported to be predisposed forintervertebral disc herniation due to disc degeneration.

The exact trigger for disc herniation remains unknown and therefore there is no direct known link between obesity and onset of disc herniation. "

They go on to say: "We believe that Frank’s condition could have occurred regardless of his body condition and that therefore the two problems: obesity and disc herniation should be considered as separate conditions."

A statement from Perfect Pet Insurance said: "This policyholder has an active complaint with Perfect Pet and we are currently investigating this complaint as part of our complaints Procedure.

"Until our complaints department have completed their independent complaints review, in line with FCA and FOS requirements, we cannot comment on this case as we do not wish to jeopardise the independent complaints outcome."

Frank’s total bill was £5,500, of which Lauren and Sam have to stump up over a quarter themselves. They purchased insurance after facing a similar bill when a previous dog of theirs, Mervin, died.

Lauren said: "You have insurance should you ever need it. We've needed it and we've paid for it, and they haven't supported us. That's what insurance is there for - they're supposed to be there for you when you need them. They've just completely let us down."

They can now only wait until the insurance company reviews Frank’s case. They wanted to speak out in the hope that other pet owners don’t have to go through what they’re experiencing.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...