Is Pet Insurance Right for Your Pet?

Many Australians enjoy the benefits of pet ownership and our furry companions soon become treasured members of the family. Often spoilt with yummy treats and adorned with plentiful affection, we all want to see our pets live long, happy, and healthy lives.

Unfortunately, as much as we want our pets to stay safe and well, our pets can get sick and injured unexpectedly – just like us! Without having a ‘doggy medicare’, it doesn’t take much for the vet bills to rise. Do you have money saved in case something horrible happens? Are you prepared for any sickness or injury that may arise? Pet ownership can be expensive, but it can be worse if your pets gets sick and needs to see a vet. For peace of mind when the unexpected happens, many veterinarians recommend pet owners consider pet insurance.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is a form of insurance to assist with unexpected veterinary expenses if your animal becomes sick or injured. Pet insurance usually only covers cats and dogs, but some insurers cover other animals as well. Most policies have limits on what they will pay out each year and for each condition. If your vet bills are more than the policy limit, you’ll have to pay the difference.

Most insurance companies commence cover once an animal has reached eight weeks of age. There are three types of insurance in which you can apply for:

  1. Accidental only – usually covers veterinary costs when your companion is involved in an accident
  2. Accidental and illness – usually covers veterinary costs for accidents as well as illnesses
  3. Comprehensive cover – usually covers routine vaccinations, worming treatments as well as vet costs for accidents and illnesses.

There are many different pet insurance providers available and it is recommended that you read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of a proposed insurance plan to ensure it is right for you and your pet.

Why is pet insurance important?

Vet bills can often be more expensive than initially expected and covering unexpected bills is a common reason people take out pet insurance. Pet insurance assists with the cost of common pet injuries and illnesses and can cover a wide range of veterinary treatments, but you should carefully check your policy to understand exactly what can be claimed for, how much you’ll get and for how long.

If you’re unsure if pet insurance is worth it, consider how you would deal with an unexpected bill. You’ll need to balance this with the cost of your premiums and the likelihood that you’ll make a claim. For example, older animals can cost more to insure but are often more likely to need medical attention.

The worst-case scenario is having to put down an animal that could have been treated if not for the cost involved. With the cost of some pet treatments going up into the thousands, you could end up with a hefty bill if your pet is not adequately insured.

You can’t put a price on the peace of mind that comes from knowing you will never have to choose between your furry friend and your financial security, but that’s not the only advantage of obtaining pet insurance. With that being said, there are a lot of expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, so it’s a good idea to understand exactly what you’re getting into.

How does pet insurance work?

Depending on the insurer and the type of cover you choose, pet insurance covers up to a percentage of the entire cost depending on your coverage and the vet bill being eligible when your animal is sick or injured.

Most companies have particular levels of care you can take out for your pet while some also offer added extras that you can pay for, for example, emergency boarding if the policyholder has to be admitted to hospital.

Is there anything I should pay attention to when looking for pet insurance?

Every insurer is different and will offer different coverage to meet different needs; you should read through what the insurance cover provides and ensure the plan is right for you. Many policies may require you to pay an excess if you make a claim. You should make yourself aware of the amount if you choose to go forward with the policy.

Is there anything that is not covered for pet insurance?

Just like health, home, car, and life insurance, there are some exemptions for pet insurance. Some exclusions can be:

  • Pre-existing conditions that your pet experienced before you brought pet insurance or a condition that commenced during the insurance process
  • Costs for elective procedures
  • Treatment for diseases that have a vaccine (for example Canine Parvovirus)
  • Grooming

If you are looking to get pet insurance, it is best to thoroughly research the provider to ensure that you are getting your desired level of care covering all that is necessary for your animal.

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