MP Jim Cunningham of Coventry South has thrown his weight behind a nationwide campaign which criticises one of the UK’s biggest insurance firms and Tesco over changes to pet insurance policies. Mr Cunningham  has sponsored a parliamentary motion criticising the Royal & Sun Alliance and Tesco over the establishment of a “preferred referral network” that limit customers to one of 28 vet centres across the UK where advanced care or operations are needed.

Critics have slammed the idea as pet owners are left to face a £200 charge if they take their pet to a vet not on the network, and argue it will damage standards of care for sick animals whilst also removing choice for worried animal lovers over where their pet is cared for.

MoreThan, an RSA company, has also adopted the changes alongside Tesco.

The Early Day motion 1401 calls on “RSA, More Than and Tesco to reconsider this policy change for the benefit of their customers and covered pets.”

The motion also states “concern” over the RSA move which limits “options for secondary care in case of serious pet illness and injuries to just 28 veterinary practices in the UK.”

It continues to further note that “this is the first time a pet insurance company has sought to prevent first opinion vets from recommending referral treatment based solely on their assessment of the most appropriate care option for an individual pet; notes that the new preferred referral network excludes many of the top veterinary specialists in the country; regrets that pet owners will now have to travel further to access secondary care; further regrets that pet owners who want to use referral practices not on the RSA approved list now face a £200 charge at the point of treatment.”

Professor Dick White is one of the country’s leading vets and a spokesman for campaign group Vets for Choice, which is calling on the companies to scrap the changes in policies. He said: "RSA has adopted the same mentality to caring for much-loved pets as it has getting a car fixed.

"But as animal lovers will testify, the two do not compare. Choice should not be confined to a list of practices provided by an insurance company – particularly as some of the practices on the RSA list do not even employ specialists."