Your guide to pet insurance
Pet insurance is essentially health insurance for your four-legged friend.
By buying a pet insurance policy you are not only guaranteeing your favourite animal a second chance if they become gravely ill or injured, but you are protecting your wallet against the high costs of veterinary care.
When you visit a pet store and see those cute, fluffy, adorable puppies and kittens, the last thing on your mind is going to be …How much will I have to pay in vets bills?
What happens if Rover gets run over and breaks his leg? Or Garfield falls out of a tree? Are you going to be able to afford a vets bill that could end up being over $5,000? Even a single trip to the vet for simple illness could cost you a minimum of $75.
Let’s face it, pets are expensive. Nowadays, veterinarians can provide all the latest technologies - x-rays, surgeries, ultrasound, and dental health among others. But some pet owners cannot afford such treatments. Pet insurance can help.
Within this guide you will find handy information to help you find the right pet insurance for your furry friend.
Types of pet insurance:
Most insurers offer two or three broad types of pet insurance: accident cover only, the most basic plan; accident and illness cover, also known as comprehensive; and accident, illness and routine care; the most comprehensive plan, sometimes called major medical plan.
Basicplan (accident cover)
Accident cover is available for pets of all ages. It can pay up between 80% - 100% of veterinary treatments in the event of an accidental injury, up to a certain value which could be around $10,000 per year.
Comprehensive plan (accident and illness)
Comprehensive pet insurance covers accidents and illness. Most plans will cover vet fees, emergency surgery, death benefit, holiday cancellation, boarding fees, theft/straying, advertising reward, third party liability and accidental damage. Some even cover identity chipping.
Major medical plan (accident, illness and routine treatment)
All the benefits of a comprehensive plan with the inclusion of some routine treatments. The ‘routine care’ included will vary between pet insurance companies and policies but some common preventative care inclusions are annual vaccination, de-sexing, micro-chipping, prescription diets, and teeth cleaning.
Which length of cover?
Set period is when your policy is valid for a set period of time, typically 12 months.
Set limits are the agreed amount that your pet will be covered for. Something to consider if you know your pet may have an ongoing illness that won’t be covered.
This covers your pet for the duration of its life.
What animals are covered?In Australia pet insurance only covers cats and dogs. If you’re looking for pet insurance for additional animals it’s a good idea to see if you can find an insurer that specialises in a particular breed. For example there are quite a few insurance companies that specialise in horse insurance such as e-quine.com.au or logans.com.au.
How old can my pet be?Pets must be over 8 weeks and up to 9 years.
Pet insurance: what is and isn’t covered?
Pet insurance is like a health fund for your animals. Depending upon the type of cover you choose it can cover anything from serious accidental injuries to general vet check-ups. You can also cover for routine treatments such as flea, tick and worm control, vaccinations and teeth cleaning. Every insurer is different so it pays to shop around and compare pet insurance.
What is covered with pet insurance:
- Hereditary and congenital conditions
- Accident injuries
- Illntella Luxation, a common problem with the knee joint
- Elbow dysplasia, a front leg condition
- Skin diseases
- Tapeworm (if the pet has been previously vaccinated)
- Essential euthanasia
- Stray animals (provided they have been checked by a vet)
- Death from illness (sometimes)
- Straying / Neutering
What's not covered with pet insurance:
Pet insurance typically has a number of exclusions such as pre-existing medical problems and hereditary conditions, unless you have special documentation from your vet.
- Pre-existing conditions that are chronic or recurring conditions beyond pre-set annual benefit limit
- Illegal breeds
- Special therapies including stem cell and alternative therapies
- Voluntary euthanasia
- Prostheses and organ transplants
- Conditions that could be prevented by vaccination
- Breeding and obstetrics
- Payments for hospitalisation, medicines, skin conditions and radiography that fall above the pre-set limits
- Fertility treatments
- Behavioural problems
- Third party liability for injury or damage
- Claims within the initial waiting period which is usually 21 - 30 days from joining. Some policies have a 6 month waiting period for ligament injuries
If you are still unsure as to what you are covered for refer to the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and pre-existing condition definition or contact your chosen insurer to see if your pet will be covered.
Which pet insurance is best?
Most pet insurance companies have a few basics in common, but each policy is different and insurers vary in the rebate amount and type of cover they offer.
Some insurers offer an optional excess to reduce your premium. If you have more than one pet, some insurers will provide a discount for second and third pets signed up.
Here are the main things to consider when buying pet insurance:
• Medical conditions: Make sure you read the insurers product disclosure statement to see what conditions are covered under that policy.
• % of bill covered: How much of the vet bill will the insurance company pay for? Most insurance companies pay between 80 – 100%.
• Age limits: Most insurers will not cover for pets over 9 years of age. Make sure you know the age of your pet before you consider taking put a policy.
• Excess: By increasing your excess you may be able to reduce your premium which may work in your favour in the long run.
• Waiting period: This is set by insurance companies so that you can’t start a policy when your pet gets ill, then take it to the vet straight away for treatment and claim on the insurance. Check to see if different policies have varying waiting periods
• Discounts: You may be entitled to a discount, if you decide to insure more than one pet.
• Type of cover: Will depend on how much you want to pay. You can chose between accident cover vs combined accident and illness cover.
Unfortunately you’re going to need to see a vet at some point in your pet’s life. Having pet insurance will ease the worry when faced with huge vets bills from routine treatments like de-worming and neutering to unexpected injuries on the road or at home.
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