January 30, 2023

Vet victory in fight for pet owner choice

cat at vets

The Royal & Sun Alliance, which provides policies for the likes of MoreThan and Tesco, have told Vets for Choice that it will no longer be charging customers £200 if they are referred outside of its preferred referral network when their GP vet declares there is a clinical reason to do so.

Vets for Choice had previously launched a campaign against the RSA’s decision to create a 29-strong referral network of ‘approved’ centres where pet owners with RSA policies had to take their sick pets to to avoid paying an extra fee.

Vets campaigning against the the pet insurance policy changes put in place by The Royal & Sun Alliance, one of Britain’s biggest insurance groups, have succeeded in their fight for the rights of pet owners.

Vets for Choice spokesman Professor Dick White said: “The waiving of the £200 in these cases by the RSA shows that the company is willing to listen to experts and customers. While the existence of the network itself is still something we are opposed to, common sense has prevailed.

“It means that a GP vet has the power back over referrals without worrying about costing RSA customers more money and that means pet owners have more freedom of choice.

“We hope the RSA ensures that this plays out in practice and it lives up to its promise. We expect them to communicate this clearly to their customers.”

The RSA climb-down on the £200 fee came after members of Vets for Choice met with RSA CEO Stephen Hester, and RSA Head of Claims Bill Paton, at the company’s offices in the City of London.

The meeting gave the group the opportunity to present Mr Hester with their arguments. It was also agreed that the Vets for Choice group would supply a list of veterinary specialists to RSA who are not on the preferred network.

A Vets for Choice spokesman said: “We were grateful for the chance to meet Mr Hester and Mr Paton and to finally be able to discuss these important matters with them face-to-face. Despite achieving this important victory, we would underline we are still fundamentally opposed to the idea of the referral network and are confident other insurers will not adopt a similar policy.

“We have also written to John Lewis and M&S, which also have policies underwritten by RSA, outlining why they should not adopt the policy changes, which would affect thousands more pet owners.”

The Vets for Choice campaign has resulted in just under 2,000 people signing a petition calling for the RSA, Tesco and MoreThan to rethink their policies. Politicians also engaged, with 13 MPs backing a parliamentary motion calling for the RSA policy to be scrapped.

Vets for Choice is due to meet with Tesco to discuss its policy in the near future.