Dog Insurance Companies

Dog Insurance in Australia

Australians love dogs!  There are about 4.8 million dogs living in 3.6 million households across the country.  The most popular dog breeds in Australia are the Labrador Retriever (Lab), Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffy), French Bulldogs (Frenchies), and German Shepherd.

We spend a lot of money taking care of our dogs each year, including $2.2 billion dollars on veterinary services.  It can sometimes be a struggle to pay for unexpected vet bills which is why so many Australians purchase pet insurance.  As of 2016, approximately 25% of all dog owners in Australia have taken out pet insurance.  This article will explain how Australian dog insurance works!

How dog insurance works

Dog insurance is similar to private health insurance.  You pay the insurance company a small monthly premium.  In return, they will help you pay for your pet’s medical expenses.  There are three types of dog insurance policies available:

  • Accident only
    These policies help you pay for veterinary bills  that occur as a result of your dog being in an accident.  This insurance will cover things like bee stings, broken legs, and bite injuries.
  • Accident and illness
    These policies also cover illnesses like cancer and diabetes.
  • Comprehensive cover
    These plans cover accidents and illnesses.  They also help you pay for preventative care and routine care.  That includes help paying for vaccinations, dental care, and behavioural training. 

Australian Dog Insurance — What You Need to Know

Most Australian dog insurance policies are fairly simple.  The terms and conditions are usually spelled out in a couple of pages, which is much less than a home insurance policy.  However, there are a few important aspects you should consider when buying a dog insurance plan:

Most dog insurance policies have an “excess”

The excess is the amount you will pay when making a claim on the policy.  Most dog insurance policies in Australia have an excess of between $100 to $200.  However, you can pay higher premiums for a policy with a $0 excess.  

The excess is charged once for each unrelated claim in a policy year.  So, if your dog has a skin condition, you will pay an excess when making your first claim.  If you have repeat visits to the vet for the condition, you won’t have to pay the excess again for a year.

Most dog insurance policies will only pay a percentage of medical costs

Most Australian pet insurance policies pay for a percentage of your dog’s medical bills.  That is usually 80% to 85%.  However, if you have an older dog, that may shrink to 65%, depending on your insurance policy provider.

Australian dog insurance policies have annual payout limits

Each policy has a maximum annual payout limit.  This limit will vary based on a number of factors including the type and cost of your insurance plan.  Most policies have an annual payout limit of between $5,000 and $20,000.  Some policies may have specific payout limits for certain conditions.  For example, they may have a payout limit of $2,500 for cruciate ligament surgery.  Policies may also have payout limits on general consultations.

Some plans will not cover all expenses associated with ticks

Paralysis ticks are very common in Australia.   However, many insurance policies will have limitations on the coverage they provide for ticks.  This limitation is usually in place because tick bites can be avoided with medications and tick collars.  You may have to pay a larger excess if your dog is being treated for a tick bite.

Some companies will not cover older pets

If you have an elderly dog, it can be difficult to obtain coverage.  Some policies will only provide coverage for an older dog if you have held the policy for many years.  That means you must stay with the same insurance provider for many years to obtain coverage as your dog gets old.

Policies have different rules for congenital or hereditary defects

Some dog breeds are prone to having certain medical conditions.  For example, Golden Labradors often have hip dysplasia, a chronic condition that can require surgery.  Different policies can have different rules on these kinds of conditions.  Some might cover the condition as long as it is not pre-existing.  Others might have larger excess payments if congenital or hereditary conditions occur.

Pre-existing conditions are not covered

Dog insurance policies in Australia will not cover any pre-existing medical conditions that your dog has.

Failure to vaccinate may invalidate your insurance

Pet insurance companies expect you to take reasonable steps to safeguard your pet against illness.  That includes giving your pets annual vaccinations.  If your pet develops a disease that is preventable with a vaccination, your policy will not cover you.