SALLY SORTS IT: Pet insurer won’t pay for dog’s dental work


I’ve been paying premiums to Petplan for my Staffordshire bull terrier, Bez, since I got him eight years ago. I now pay £33 a month.

He has a problem with one of his teeth and it needs to be removed under anaesthetic. Yet, while the policy says teeth are covered, Petplan is refusing to pay out.

I must have paid the firm nearly £2,700 in premiums, but now, when I need to claim, it tells me he’s not insured. I’m furious.

G. P., Sherborne, Dorset.

Biting back: Petplan refused to pay for a dog’s dental work, despite the owner having paid monthly premiums for eight years

You chose Petplan for your beloved Bez because you believed it was the top dog in pet cover provision, with its reassuring sales patter that it pays 97 per cent of claims.

You live alone and tell me Bez was a lifesaver during the lockdowns, encouraging you to get out of the house for walks when you were at a low ebb. 

Despite not having much cash to spare, you felt £30-plus per month was a price worth paying to ensure you could meet the cost of any medical help he needed.

However, when you requested reimbursement for treatment for an infected tooth (the first claim made since he was a puppy), Petplan would not pay a penny of the £450 bill.

I spoke to the firm and, a couple of days later, it gave me an explanation: there was a ten-month gap between your vet advising you the treatment was required and it taking place.

A spokesman says: ‘Our policy terms require a dental examination to be carried out by a vet annually and any recommended treatment undertaken within six months.’

However, the firm re-examined the case and agreed to pay for the treatment after all.

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Petplan’s head of marketing, Isabella von Mesterhazy, says: ‘As there were no welfare concerns raised by his vet, we will pay the claim on this occasion.’

Although you were pleased with this result initially, an unexpected clause in your policy came back to bite. 

Since Bez had turned eight before your recent policy renewal, you now must share the cost of any vet bills over the excess of £90, to the tune of 20 per cent.

This means the insurer will only meet £288 of the £450. 

You felt you were barking mad for taking out cover and wish you’d set aside £25 a month in a savings account for all these years instead.

It is a tough call to make. The cost of treatments rises every year and savings pots can soon be eaten up. 

You could gamble and win — as I did with my two cats who both passed away recently aged 17. I reckon I spent far less on their care than the price of pet insurance.

A friend whose (uninsured) 11-year-old dachshund recently ate four lollipops filched from her daughter’s handbag — resulting in a £4,500 stomach operation (on top of other pricey incidents over the years) — is not quite so sure her gamble paid off.

HMRC fined granddaughter over tax she doesn’t owe

My 22-year-old granddaughter was unable to find work during Covid and so became a self-employed beautician. She earned very little, owing to lockdowns, so stopped trading.

But now she has a problem with the taxman, which began when it was time to submit her tax return for 2020-21.

She read that if she earned less than £1,000, she did not need to submit a tax return. 

So she wrote a letter to HMRC to explain her situation and sent it by signed-for delivery on January 17.

On March 23, she received a letter, dated March 8, which said her tax return had not been received on time and included a fine of £100. 

This had to be paid within two weeks, as the 30-day notice had started from when the letter was written, not when it was received.

My granddaughter sent another letter to explain. She heard nothing, so paid the £100 fine. 

She also completed a self-assessment form, which showed she’d had £326 in expenses and made £406 profit. This was posted along with an appeal against the fine.

The appeal was rejected and HMRC said there was no evidence of her filing online. That’s because it was sent by post. 

The letter also said that tax is owed. She has not received a notification of tax due, and on her tiny profits would expect to owe nothing.

And now HMRC has asked for her tax return for 2021-22. She has been in full-time employment since December 2022. How is she to convince HMRC of her position if it never responds to letters?

P. M., Lincoln.

How, indeed? I intervened, and a few days later, HMRC admitted its mistake and called your granddaughter to let her know.

This seemed an altogether less taxing form of communication than using the post.

Straight to the point 

We signed up to Sky TV nearly two years ago in a deal that included a discount, but it was never applied. I have tried to contact Sky about this issue but am getting nowhere.

L. N., by email.

You were entitled to a £12 discount on your bills, but only £3 was taken off each month. 

This means you have overpaid by a total of £171. Sky has rounded this up and added a £250 credit to your account.

*** 

I bought tickets for a performance of Les Miserables through ViaGoGo in March 2020, but it was cancelled twice during the Covid lockdowns. 

It has since been advertised for another date, but ViaGoGo will not confirm if it’s going ahead, nor will it refund me.

M. D., Weston-super-Mare.

A spokesman says customers are only eligible for refunds if events are cancelled. 

As this was postponed, your refund request was rejected. Someone has now been in touch to offer a ticket for the new date, or a refund.

*** 

One of my new hearing aids went missing recently, but by the time I eventually found it in my car, I had ordered a replacement and paid a £498.75 deposit. 

I got in touch with the firm, Hearmore UK, which cancelled my order and promised me a refund within ten working days. Four months later, I am still waiting.

D. H., Glamorgan.

Hearmore UK transferred the money within an hour of me getting in contact. It seems it had asked its finance department to refund you, but no one did. A spokesman apologises for the late payment.

*** 

I have £20,000 with Aldermore Bank, which I was keeping in a fixed-term, one-year savings account. 

It matured in June and the money was automatically moved into another fixed-term account, which means I cannot access it for another year. But I need the cash now.

T. B., by email.

An Aldermore spokesman says the bank contacted you to warn you the account would be maturing soon, but you did not respond, so the money was rolled over into another fixed deal. 

The bank has now agreed to release the funds to you early.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email sally@dailymail.co.uk — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. 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. 

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