Pet Insurance Australia – What Is Your Best Option?
Why get pet insurance in the first place?
Pet insurance exists to give pet owners a peace of mind, knowing they will be able to afford any pricey vet fees if their furry companion gets sick or suffers an accidental injury. We all try our best to save money for emergencies, but being human, things always come up that exhaust our savings and leave us at square one. That’s why pet insurance is a great way to know you’ll always afford to take care of your pet, whether your savings have been exhausted or not.
When thinking about pet insurance providers, it’s helpful to consider the following advice, adapted from Choice Magazine (April 4, 2014).
Is pet insurance for you?
If nothing is too good for your furry friend, then pet insurance is definitely a worthwhile investment. If your pet is accident prone, or particularly active, then insurance can help cover the cost of the inevitable vet bills that will come up. Securing pet insurance for your little buddy can mean the difference between life and death when a hefty vet bill shows up. It’s a difficult choice that not many pet owners want to make, but sometimes pet owners are left with the decision of unaffordable vet bills or euthanasia. This article from Dogs NSW Magazine gives a great overview of pet insurance, explaining how it can actually save you a lot of money, even if it may initially seem like an unnecessary expense.
The cost of pet insurance
Choice Magazine compared premiums and benefits from a range of providers, and reported that premiums for cats average at around $200 a year for accident cover and $410 for accident and illness cover. For dogs, the average cost came to around $390 for common breeds, but for more high risk breeds (e.g. bulldogs) the accident and illness cover averaged at around $550 a year.
Premiums are generally based on the breed and age of your pet. Get a quote and compare to see how affordable pet insurance can be with Petsecure.
How much are vet fees?
To give you an idea of the potential cost of vet fees, the following is a sample of pet insurance claims for various conditions from The Hollard Insurance Company for the year 2014.
Cost of claims
|Average Claim Inc GST, 2014
|Foreign body injestion||$1,272||$16,299|
|Cataracts / Eyes||$449||$7,940|
|Dermatitis / Skin||$615||$10,922|
|Urinary Tract Infection||$582||$17,402|
Are there alternatives to pet insurance?
It’s worth noting that whilst the average claim in some cases is reasonably low, if the costs blow out then the numbers can run into a few thousand dollars. Additionally, there’s been a significant increase in claim costs over the last few years, brought about through both advances in technology as well as the usual inflation. Remember, there’s no Medicare for pets, so you have to plan ahead!
If you think insurance isn’t for you, it’s a good idea to compare it with the option of setting aside some cash each month to ensure you have money on hand for unexpected accident or illness. You need discipline to ensure that you can build up a fund worth at least a few thousand dollars. Insurance helps in that the amount is automatically deducted without your needing to control your spending and consciously set an amount aside. Of course, credit cards could always pay the bills, but when you factor in the added cost of interest, they can be quite expensive.
Choose your pet insurance wisely
Once you have secured a pet insurance policy, it’s difficult to move from one insurer to the other as pre-existing conditions are excluded in new policies. This means that if you switch from one pet plan to another, anything that you have claimed for with your current insurer would not be covered by the new insurer.
So do your homework, review the insurance, and compare the premiums and options available before you make your decision. Choose wisely, taking into account your budget and needs, as you must consider the long term. As your pet ages, the more valuable the cover is likely to be for you.
Choice Magazine conducted a review of Australian pet insurance policies available on the market, comparing their premiums, excess payable, co-payments, benefits, exclusions, and reviewing the cover in a range of scenarios, e.g. for cats, dogs, and various ages and breeds.
In 3 of the 4 plans (Accident only – cat and dog cover; Accident & Illness – dog cover), Petsecure was recommended by Choice Magazine.
Important to note is that Choice did not factor in available discounts – such as Petsecure’s discount for seniors, assistance dogs, rescue pets, and the multi-pet discount. Choice Magazine also highlighted that with some insurers, benefits drop significantly after a certain age, meaning the overall value drops when you need to make a claim. Remember, the older your pet, the more likely you are to need to make a claim!
Things to look at, and questions to ask when you are comparing pet insurance
- The maximum annual benefit payable (Petsecure pays up to $12,000 a year for accident and illness cover, and $8,000 a year for accident only cover)
- Limits on benefits payable (with Petsecure there is no limit on individual claims, with the exception of tick paralysis where the benefit is limited to $500 a year)
- The percentage of the eligible vet’s bill that is payable (Petsecure offers 75% or 85% options)
- Excess payments (Petsecure has no excess payments) and whether they change with certain breeds or ages
- Age limits
- Whether chronic conditions are covered for the life of the policy
- Double dipping – some insurers have an excess as well as limiting the percentage of the vet’s bill that is payable
- Discounts available, and the period for which they apply (Petsecure offers a maximum 10% discount off second and subsequent pets, assistance dogs, and seniors. These discounts continue for as long as the policy is kept continuously in force)
- Whether the policy guarantee is renewable (Petsecure guarantees lifetime cover as long as there’s no break, lapse, or change in the level of cover after the age of 9)
- Whether an option exists to cover routine care benefits, such as vaccinations (Petsecure offers optional Wellness Care with the Accident & Illness plan)
- Whether both Accidents and Illnesses are covered when pets become senior
- Any waiting periods that may apply.
Focus on the positives of pet insurance and what it will cover, not on the uncovered items!