Types Of Pet Insurances

Types Of Pet Insurances

If your pet has a serious illness or is involved in an accident, the veterinary bills can quickly add up.  If they require surgery or treatment for a serious illness like cancer, it can cost many thousands of dollars.  

To help manage these unexpected costs, many Australians are turning to pet insurance.  For a small monthly premium, pet owners can cover their cat or dog against unexpected illnesses and accidents.  It helps Australian families manage their budgets and take care of their beloved pets.  This article will take a closer look at the types of pet insurance that are available in Australia.

What types of pet insurance are available?

Even though pet insurance has only been available in Australia for a few years, there are many providers to choose from.  Everyone from the RSPCA to Medibank Private is offering pet insurance.

Because there are so many providers, Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a pet insurance.  You can read the different product features, terms and conditions of each policy to find one that is perfect pet insurance plan.  While each plan has a unique set of terms and conditions, they are all separated into three categories:

Accident Cover

Accident-only policies cover medical costs relating to any accidental injury suffered by your pet.  These policies include common injuries like animal bites, broken limbs, and snake bites. 

There are some exceptions to the kind of accidents that these policies cover.  Most accident-only policies will only partially cover tick bites, because they can be prevented with medication.  Injuries relating to any pre-existing condition that your pet has won’t be covered.  Accident only coverage can be purchased for pets of any age and it is the cheapest form of pet insurance.

Who should purchase accident only cover?

This kind of policy is ideal for young pets who are quite fit and healthy.  If you own an older pet, their risk of becoming ill is higher and a plan that covers illnesses may be a better option.

What does it cost?

Accident-only coverage is usually available for between $30 to $40 a month.

Accident and Illness Cover

This type of insurance policy covers any veterinary costs relating to both accidents and illnesses.  This includes conditions like cancer, diabetes, hereditary diseases, and infectious diseases.  Most policies will not cover your pet against any pre-existing conditions or diseases that could have been prevented with a vaccine. 

Some accident and illness policies also have restrictions on certain conditions or treatments.  For example, certain insurance policies may have lower payout limits on treatments like cruciate ligament surgery.  

Most accident and illness policies are only available for dogs and cats younger than 9 years of age.  The only way to obtain coverage for an older pet is to enrol them when they are young.

Who should purchase accident and illness cover?

This type of coverage is a great option if you have a breed of animal that is more likely to develop health problems.  For example, German Shepherds have a high risk of developing hip dysplasia.  They are more likely to require veterinary care.  It is also a fantastic option if you have a middle-aged dog, as their risk of becoming ill is higher.

What does it cost?

Accident and illness coverage is usually available for between $45 to $60 a month.

Comprehensive Cover

Comprehensive pet insurance covers both accidents and illnesses.  It also provides some funds for routine and preventative care.  Your insurance company will help you pay for everything from dental care through to behavioural therapy and vaccinations.  Some Australian pet insurance companies call this type of coverage “Accident and Illness plus Routine Care”.  

Some insurance policies also offer third-party coverage for any damage caused by your pet.  That means you are covered if your pet causes a car crash, bites someone, or destroys someone’s property.

Who should purchase accident only cover?

Comprehensive insurance is ideal for anyone who has an older pet or a breed that may require more trips to the vet.

What does it cost?

Accident and illness coverage is usually available for between $50 to $70 a month.

Tips for choosing a pet insurance policy

Here are a few important aspects to keep in mind when choosing your pet insurance plan.

Is there an annual benefit limit?

Most Australian pet insurance policies will restrict the amount that you can claim each year.  In some cases, accident-only plans will have lower benefit limits than comprehensive plans.

What are the limits on claims?

Most pet insurance policies have limits on the medical conditions that can be claimed.   Australian pet insurance policies will not cover pre-existing conditions.  Most plans will not cover illnesses that can be prevented with a vaccination.  Some policies may have restrictions based on certain treatments or illnesses.   For example, they may not treat tick bites or have a limit on the payout for tick bites.

Will you have to pay an excess?

An excess is a small contribution you pay when making a claim on your pet insurance policy.  It is only charged once for each unrelated claim you make in a policy year.  So if your pet has a skin condition, you will only pay the excess on your first claim.  Any follow up visits to the veterinarian will not require an excess payment.  The excess on most Australian pet insurance policies is around $100 to $200.  However, $0 excess policies are available if you are willing to pay a higher premium.

How much of each bill with my pet insurance provider pay?

It is important to understand that Australian pet insurance policies will only pay for a percentage of your veterinary costs.  Most policies cover between 75% to 85% of the total cost of your vet bills.  Some insurance providers will pay a large percentage for comprehensive plans and a smaller percentage for accident-only plans.

The amount that your insurance provider pays may also change as your pet gets older.  Some plans will only pay 60% or 65% of your pet’s veterinary bills if the animal is more than 9 years-of-age.

Is there a waiting period?

Most Australian pet insurance plans have a waiting period of 30 days.  That means you cannot make a claim for the first 30 days after you purchase a new plan.  Some insurance providers have a longer waiting period for certain procedures like cruciate ligament surgery.

Will hospitalisation be covered?

Different insurance policies have different rules regarding hospitalisation.  Some policies will cover your pet for a certain number of days, while other have a cap on the total expenses.  Again, check your policy for further details.

Is your pet covered for life?

Most Australian pet insurance plans will cover your pet for life if you enrol them before they turn 9 years of age and if you continue paying premiums.  However, this is not the case with all plans, so read the fine print!  Additionally, most policies will have a premium increase and/or a reduction in the percentage that the plan contributes for older pets.  Most plans reduce the amount they will pay to 65% if you have an older pet.

Are there restrictions for reoccurring conditions?

Most Australian pet insurance policies will pay for reoccurring conditions like arthritis or cancer.  They will continue to pay as long as you continue paying premiums.  However, you may find the treatment required for these chronic conditions exceeds the annual benefit limit on your policy.

Will your pet be covered if taken interstate?

Australian health insurance plans will cover your pet regardless of the state they are in.  However, you should notify your pet insurance company if you move house as it may affect the cost of your premiums.

What are the exclusions listed on the policy?

Most pet insurance plans sold in Australia have limits on what they will cover.  The most common exclusions include:

  • Conditions that could have been avoided with a vaccination
  • Elective procedures
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Medical procedures related to pregnancy
  • Medical problems caused by behavioural issues
  • Medical issues caused by neglect