ASK TONY: How a trip to the vet left me sick with worry about the £2,200 bill

When my little dog, a Cavachon, had an operation on her leg, insurer Animal Friends refused to pay for it as it claimed she had not been in an accident. This cost me more than £1,000, even though the vet confirmed that it was caused by accidental damage, not genetics.

When I came to renew my insurance, I spoke to Animal Friends to confirm what cover I would need to avoid this ever happening again, and I paid for an upgraded policy.

A couple of months later, my dog had a problem patella [kneecap] which required an operation. This has been done, but I have now been told by Animal Friends that it will not pay for this because it is a bilateral condition. 

In other words, if one part of the body is affected and another, similar part has the same problem, the insurance will not cover it.

Mrs A. S., Surrey.

One reader was left £2,200 out of pocket after her pet insurer refused to pay for an operation on her dog, claiming the animal had not been in an accident One reader was left £2,200 out of pocket after her pet insurer refused to pay for an operation on her dog, claiming the animal had not been in an accident

One reader was left £2,200 out of pocket after her pet insurer refused to pay for an operation on her dog, claiming the animal had not been in an accident

I regularly advise that it is best to be open and honest with insurance companies. Then, if you do need to make a claim, it can’t say you have hidden anything from it.

Well, you were completely open and asked what level of cover you would need to make sure your dog was covered. You paid extra for a higher level of cover, then your claim was turned down.


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Incidents like this give insurance a bad name. When I contacted Animal Friends, it looked at your case again and has now paid you £1,200 for the cost of the operation.

All Animal Friends had to say was: ‘We were glad to be able to assist Mrs S in resolving her issues.

‘Unfortunately, we do not comment on individual claimants’ cases and we have fully stated our reasons for the refund in the letter we issued to Mrs S.

‘If she has any further queries or issues which she needs help with, we would be happy to help.’

How wonderfully pompous! Of course, if the insurer had dealt with your queries properly in the first place, you would not have had to come to me.

Just in case Animal Friends thought its approach would result in less publicity, I have made this my lead letter.

You have YOUR say 

Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some from last week’s article about the end of the generous feed-in tariffs, which pay homeowners for generating electricity.

From what I’ve seen, solar panels never last long enough to be worth the cost or the effort. Depending on your home and location, you would be far better off investing in personal wind turbines.

C. L., Peterborough.

I make about £450 per year from my solar panels and I spent £6,000 on them. Hardly a money-spinner. I once made only £12 over three months.

R. S., Rickmansworth, Herts.

As with most things in this country, when a good idea comes along, the cost of implementing it is high. If you pay for solar panels, you are only giving the next owner of your house a moving-in gift.

F. A., by email.

One salesman admitted to me that he could not fit the panels in time for feed-in tariff payments. He suggested I wait to see what the Government offers next. How honest of him.

B. R., by email.

People should be more focused on the environment. All new-builds should have solar panels fitted and tanks to collect rainwater.

B. B., Chepstow, Monmouth.

This year, I received a £200 Winter Fuel Payment instead of the full £300 for a person aged 81. The Pension Service says there is someone living with me, but I have lived alone since I bought my house in 1999.

I had power of attorney for a friend who had Parkinson’s and other ailments. In November 2016, it was arranged his mail would be directed to my address. Sadly, he passed away in a care home in November 2018.

I have spoken to the Pension Service several times. It has been sympathetic, but remains unmoveable on the issue.

D. O., Bingley.

Winter fuel allowance is £300 a year if you live alone and were born on or before September 23, 1938. If you are over 80 and live with someone else who qualifies, then the payment is reduced.

You had plenty of evidence that your friend did not live with you. This included an invoice for the care home’s fees and the Post Office redirection receipt. After I made contact, the Pension Service moved swiftly to sort out the error and have now paid you the extra £100.

I am told the systems had not recognised that your friend was in care and had instead registered him at your address.

The agent you spoke with gave you the wrong information and staff have now been reminded of the correct process.

Straight to the point 

My M&S Bank credit card has worked well for years, but recently it has been declined in some shops. How long do credit cards usually last?

J. A., by email.

If you check the expiry dates on debit and credit cards, you will see that most tend to be valid for three years. 

Some may need to be replaced sooner if they are damaged. In your case, M&S says your card was deactivated due to a servicing error. 

It has sent you a replacement card and paid £50 into your account for the inconvenience.


My husband bought me a £1,590 Givenchy handbag from Selfridges in London for Christmas. It wasn’t right, and Selfridges agreed to accept the return by post as I live in Nottingham.

I sent it by recorded delivery and Selfridges signed for it on January 3. Yet I still haven’t received my money back.

N. M., by email.

Selfridges would say only that there had been a ‘breakdown in communication’ and that the matter had been resolved. 

You tell us the store called to apologise and offered an immediate refund, plus £15 to cover the postage cost, a £150 gift card and a voucher for afternoon tea for two in its restaurant.

I moved into my current property almost five years ago. The previous owner is driving around Lincolnshire incurring fixed penalty tickets. He has not notified the DVLA of his change of address and, as a result, the penalty notices are coming to my address.

I have advised the issuing authority, which says unless the DVLA changes the address of the vehicle’s registered keeper, it will continue to send its paperwork to me.

I want this brought to a head before the matter goes to court.

D. E., Skegness

Nobody wants to think that bailiffs could turn up on their doorstep because the previous occupant is accumulating debts and giving out the wrong address.

I passed your letter to the DVLA, which has written to you to confirm that your address details have been removed from its records for this vehicle.

If you receive more parking tickets, tell those issuing them that the vehicle is not registered at your house and has never been owned by you, and that they should go back to the DVLA.

Failing that, try writing ‘Not known at this address’ on the envelope and return to sender.

Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email [email protected] — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.