How to find pet insurance that can last a lifetime
One of the clearest dividing lines between various pet insurance policies is whether or not they offer lifetime cover to protect your pet's health as it ages. As pets are more likely to need costly medical treatment when they are older, you might want to limit your search to pet insurance that offers lifetime cover. Fortunately, this has become a lot easier over the years as more insurers have started offering true lifetime pet insurance.
What is lifetime pet insurance?
If you take out pet insurance for a puppy or a kitten, will you still have pet insurance 15 years later when your pet is getting on in years? With lifetime pet insurance, you can. Without lifetime pet insurance, a provider might simply decline to renew your insurance after your pet reaches a certain age. This can be problematic because a lot of insurers don’t extend cover to animals over a certain age, usually about 9 years old.
Lifetime pet insurance in Australia takes the form of “guaranteed renewability”. This essentially means that as long as you keep up with premium payments and don’t violate policy terms (such as by trying to defraud the insurer with false claims), they cannot cancel your policy. If you’re looking for accident and illness pet insurance to cover your pet for life, check specifically for policies that include lifetime cover. You may wish to take out a policy as soon as your pet reaches the minimum entry age, which is usually about 8 weeks, and then just make sure that the policy is maintained over the years. All of these pet insurance providers offer lifetime pet insurance, so you can make a choice based on the cover and other features instead.
Who guarantees lifetime cover?
Additional options to consider
Lifetime cover is typically found as an automatic policy feature rather than an optional extra. Optional inclusions may not always be available with all insurers or might sometimes be found as automatic inclusions. If you’re specifically looking to keep premiums down, it may be worth comparing the prices of policies that let you opt out of these cover types, to see whether you can save money. Typically available options may include:
- Routine care: A useful feature to help cover the cost of certain routine care expenses. Typically found only with comprehensive cover.
- Emergency boarding: Can help cover the cost of pet boarding if you are hospitalised.
- Pet travel insurance: Extends your cover so your pet is also insured while overseas.
What excess will I be charged?
The excess charged is typically around $100 to $200, payable each time you make a claim for a separate condition. With lifetime pet insurance, it may be worth considering how the excess can affect costs in the long run. Over the years, a higher excess can save considerable amounts of money, but also makes it more expensive to claim. Later in life, when a pet might be experiencing multiple separate conditions, a higher excess may be less affordable. You might want to consider your savings and how much you might be willing or able to spend on excess costs down the line. There’s no single right amount for everyone but you might want to look for an excess that’s affordable even if you need to pay it several times a year, but is also high enough to keep your premiums down.
What will impact what I pay?
The cost of pet insurance can change over time. Your premiums are typically reassessed each year at the policy anniversary and will often increase based on the newly assessed risk levels. Your premiums are affected by:
- Your pet’s age
- Your cover type and options
- Your pet’s breed
- Any pre-existing conditions or congenital conditions
- Your benefit percentage or reimbursement level
- Your chosen excess