Australians love their pets. One in three households shares their home with a dog and one in four shares their home with a cat. They are often considered our best friends, and part of the family, so if a pet is struck down by injury or illness it can put a lot of emotional and financial stress on the family.
When a pet is injured or sick the vet bills can be very expensive leaving families with the difficult decision to pay the large vet bills or have the pet euthanized. To avoid making these tough decisions many families are choosing to take out insurance to cover their vet bills.
Pet insurance pays your vet bills when your pet is injured or sick. There are two types of cover available: Comprehensive cover that pays all your surgery and medical bills if your pet is injured accidentally or falls ill: or Accident only cover that as the name suggests only covers your expenses if your pet is injured accidentally.
Here is a brief definition of Accident and Illness Cover:
Accident Cover – This is the most common type of pet insurance. This would cover your veterinary expenses if your pet were to be hit by a car and rushed to the vet. All the insurance companies offer this type of cover regardless of the age of your pet.
Illness Cover – Illness coverage is often restricted to cats between the ages of 8weeks and 8-9 years, however many insurers will cover your pet after the maximum age limit if the policy was taken out before that time.. Premiums for illness cover increase incrementally with age.
The purpose of these pet insurance reviews is to help you decide whether you need cover for your pet, and review some of the options to ensure you choose the right cover.
Most pets are healthy especially when they are young, but sometimes injury and illness can strike unexpectedly.
A number of years ago, my brother’s cat was hit by a car. She survived but she broke her hip. My brother was told that there could be a number of internal injuries but they won’t know until they operate. He was quoted $5000, to carry out investigative surgery. There was no guarantee the cat would survive the surgery or if the injuries were so bad that she may still die anyway.
My brother didn’t have insurance; and he didn’t want to put his beloved cat down so he took a loan to get her the surgery she required. She survived and lived another 10 years (with a bit of a limp).
This is a scenario faced by many families that are suddenly hit with unexpected vet bills when their pet falls ill. If they don’t have insurance they either need to take out a loan, use all their savings or have their beloved pet put down.
My brother has taken out insurance since which paid off as another cat he owned had a heart murmur and tumours on her liver and was on medication her whole life.
Are all policies the same?
There is a vast difference in what each policy offers, so it is important to shop around, and read the fine print so you know exactly what is covered. Some policies have restrictions and clauses for example, some will not cover pre-existing conditions, and some require you to take your pet in for regular check-ups and dental work. There are some that exclude specific conditions such as heart worm or cataracts.
How can I conduct my own pet insurance review?
Here are several questions to ask when carrying out your own pet insurance reviews,
Are there any limitations? – Read the fine print and ensure you understand exactly what you get for your money. If you have a breed of cat or dog that is prone to certain illnesses then check that the insurer will cover that breed. They may also refuse to insure your dog for ticks if you live in a tick prone area.
How is the rebate calculated? Many insurers will only pay between 75% and 85% of the vet fees; there are some that only pay 50% so check the fine print so you don’t get a nasty surprise at claim time.
Is there an excess payable? – Your insurer may deduct an excess from the total rebate, usually around $100. Check the policy to find out if there is and excess AND only a percentage of the costs covered.
What other exclusions are there? – Check if the policy excludes any particular breed of cat or dog. Or if certain conditions are excluded such as hip dysplasia, or certain illnesses.
Are there any limits on how much you can claim? – Some insurers have a maximum you can claim each year, which is usually between $6000- $15000. And some have maximum amounts you can claim on certain treatments (referred to as sub limits), for example you may only be able to claim $100 a year for a tick paralysis with some policies.
How often do the premiums increase? – Find out if the policy increases annually as your pet ages, or as you make claims.
Are specialised treatments covered? Find out if your pet is covered for specialist referrals such as cardiology, orthopaedics or oncology. Also ask them if complimentary treatments such as homeopathies are covered.
Are prescriptions covered? – Ask the insurer if prescriptions for your pet are also covered by the policy.
When reviewing policies shop around as there are a lot of options available. Always read the terms and conditions and always call a company and ask if there is anything you do not understand.
The purpose of this site is to carry out pet insurance reviews, so far we have reviewed Real Pet Insurance, and RSPCA insurance. We will be updating this site regularly as we review the various policies available, so keep checking back for updates.