A policy could be invalidated if chip details are not correct, a pet insurance expert warned 

Pet insurers may reject customers’ cat cover if they are not chipped correctly as part of the government’s new law, a pet insurance expert has warned.

The new law, announced earlier this week (13 March 2023), requires cat owners to microchip their pets by 10 June 2024 and have contact details stored and kept up to date on a database.

From that date, cat owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to get one implanted or risk a fine of up to £500.

Kevin Pratt, pet insurance expert at Forbes Advisor, told Insurance Times that insurers would likely treat cat microchipping “in the same way they already do for dogs”.

“So, customers who live where microchipping is a legal requirement – as will be the case for cat owners in England – won’t be able to get insurance until they have their cat chipped,” he said.

Expert’s warning

The new law came after a government consultation on cat and dog microchipping – run between December 2020 and February 2021 – found that 99% of 33,000 respondents supported the measure.  

An environment department statement published at the beginning of this week (13 March 2023) noted that as many as 2.3m cats were not chipped out of more than 9m total in the country.

The government added that, without chipping, “it would be very difficult to reunite them with their owner if they get lost or stolen”.

“Some insurers may reflect a cat’s chipped status in their premiums, regardless of where the policyholder lives, as it’s an indication of responsible pet ownership, Pratt added.

“Likewise, if a policyholder states their cat is chipped but it turns out not to be or the chip details are out of date, any claim they make might not be honoured or the policy could be invalidated.”

Unchipped cat claims 

Meanwhile, Stefan Thomas, underwriting director at ManyPets said the MGA would  ”never decline claims on the basis that a customer has not microchipped their cat”. 

He said: ”When mandatory chipping came in for dogs in April 2016, we didn’t see wholesale declining of claims on this basis. Our position will be the same for cats. While microchipping is a legal requirement and a recognised safety measure which we strongly encourage, it does not inform the health or propensity of a pet to be ill and as such, is not mentioned in our policy wording.

”Cat owners should be reassured their insurance would remain valid and their claims unaffected by the new law. If a pet parent is with another insurer, it is worth checking the terms and conditions and policy wording as there could be some which are impacted in certain circumstances”

Meanwhile, MGA ManyPets’ veterinarian Dr Kirsten Ronngren urged cat owners to ensure details on the microchip matched those on the insurance policy.

“Microchipping is a quick procedure to insert a microchip under the skin of your pet’s neck,” she said. 

”The chip is the size of a grain of rice and is linked to your contact details, so your pet can be reunited with you if they’re lost or stolen. 

“Additionally, if you plan on traveling with your pet, a compliant microchip is required for identification purposes.

“Owners should ensure that all details on the microchip are up to date and match the information on their insurance policy.

“In many instances, getting your pet microchipped can cost as little as £15 and pets from breeders or charities often come with a microchip in place prior to going home with their new family.”