Cat Insurance companies

Cat Insurance companies

Cats are very popular in Australia, with almost three in 10 households owning one (2.7 million).  We love to treat our furry friends as members of the family, pampering them with toys, gourmet food and luxurious beds.  

Unfortunately, owning a cat can be quite expensive.  Australians spend about $4 billion on their cats each year, with most of that money being spent on food and veterinary services.  

If you own a cat and have taken it to a vet recently, you probably appreciate how expensive your pet’s health care can be.  Receiving large veterinary bills is one reason why many more Australians are choosing to purchase pet insurance.  Almost 20% of Australian households with cats purchase pet insurance — a figure that is rapidly increasing.

This article will give you some information on pet insurance for cats — how it works and what aspects to keep in mind when buying a policy.  Let’s get cracking! 

How cat insurance works

Cat insurance works in a similar way to private health insurance.  You will select an insurance plan with a set level of coverage and insurance excess.  You then pay the insurer monthly or annual premiums.  

In return for those premiums, your insurance company will help you pay for some veterinary bills.  The types of expenses that your insurance plan pays for varies based on the level of coverage you purchase.  There are three types of cat insurance policies available in Australia:

  • Accident-only coverage
    An accident-only pet insurance policy will cover you against medical bills that occur after your cat has been in an accident.  “Accidents” includes injuries from a cat fight,  an accident involving a car and so on.  This type of policy will not cover your cat for any medical expenses relating to an illness like diabetes or cancer.  This is the most affordable type of pet insurance.
  • Accident and illness coverage
    This type of policy will cover your cat against both accidents and illnesses.  The illnesses covered by each pet insurance policy can vary, so it is always important to read the fine print. 
  • Comprehensive cover
    A comprehensive cover pet insurance policy provides both accidents and illness cover.  These plans also provide some funds for pet owners to pay for preventative care and routine care.  This may include discounts on vaccinations and tick treatments. 

Australian Cat Insurance — What You Need to Know

Purchasing Australian pet insurance is generally fairly simple.  However, there are a few important concepts that you should keep in mind when making a purchase, including:

Pre-existing conditions are not covered

If your cat has a chronic or recurring illness that you are already aware of, your pet insurance policy will not cover it.  Other common exclusions include:

  • Dental care
  • The cost of preventative medicine
  • Mental disorders
  • Conditions that cannot be diagnosed
  • Injuries and illnesses caused by neglect

Pet insurance only pays for a portion of your medical expenses

Pet insurance “helps” you pay for your pet’s medical expenses — it does not cover the entire cost.  Most policies will pay for between 75% to 85% of your pet’s medical expenses.  However, if you have an old cat, this may drop to 65% or less.

You may also have to pay an “excess”.  This is a small contribution you make when you submit a new claim on your insurance policy.  It is only charged on each unrelated claim within a policy year.  So, if your cat has follow up treatments for a single condition, you will only have to pay the excess for the first claim.  

Most policies have an excess of between $100 to $200.  If you pay a higher premium, you can purchase plans with a $0 excess.  Some policies may have a higher excess payment for conditions that can be preventable.  For example, some pet insurance plans to have a $1000 excess for tick bites.  This is because most tick bites can be prevented with tick collars and medications.

Australian pet insurance policies have annual payout limits

Pet insurance plans in Australia also have hard limits on the total amount you can claim each year.  The annual payout limits on Australian pet insurance plans typically range between $2,500 and $20,000.

Some pet insurance policies also have different payout limits on specific conditions.  For example, some plans have smaller payout limits on chronic conditions like arthritis.

There are special rules for older cats

Unfortunately, most Australian pet insurance companies will not enroll cats older than 9 years of age.  The only way to obtain coverage for an older cat is to enroll them with an insurance provider when they are young.  Most insurance companies will continue providing coverage as long as you continue paying premiums. 

The percentage of the medical costs that your insurance company covers may also drop.  Many companies only pay 60-65% of the medical expenses of animals older than 9 years of age.  Premiums usually increase for older cats as well.

Policies have different rules for congenital or hereditary defects

Some insurance policies have limitations on the kinds of congenital or hereditary defects their policies cover.  If you are purchasing a cat breed which is prone to certain conditions, check the exemptions list on each policy.

The vaccination status of your pet may be important

Some pet insurance policies will not cover cats for conditions that could have been avoided with a vaccination injection.