Our pets are genuine members of the family so it’s no surprise that many of us love to take them along on holidays with us. When booking somewhere to stay, many Aussie families specifically search for pet-friendly accommodation, and the holiday becomes an adventure for our furry friends as well. Unfortunately, our cars do break down sometimes or we might be involved in an accident, and for people travelling with pets, this can become a major problem.
The NRMA has a long history of bailing out Australian motorists in times of need and one of the optional benefits it offers is the Pets Plus add-on. It is important to note that this is not pet insurance that covers veterinary expenses, but a way to help people with the cost of transport and shelter for dogs or cats that are left stranded as a result of the family car being out of commission.
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What benefits does the plan offer?
Pet Plus is an add-on product to NRMA Roadside Assistance. As of May 2017, it costs $41 per year in addition to Classic Care and Club Care membership packages but it’s included at no extra charge as part of the Premium Care and Premium Plus plans.
Something that many people don’t realise – and something that commonly causes confusion among customers – is that NRMA (as in, the National Roads and Motorists’ Association) and NRMA Insurance are two completely separate companies. They do have a shared history, and by mutual agreement, they continue to use the same logo and branding.
NRMA Insurance is heavily involved in motoring, with offerings for CTP green slips, cover for cars, caravans and motorcycles, and even cover for people harmed while travelling on public transport. However, it does not have a pet insurance product to help with veterinary expenses incurred when taking care of our four-legged friends when they are injured or become ill.
Interestingly, however, it is NRMA itself (the motoring association) that provides Pet Plus cover. If you’re travelling with one or more pets when your vehicle breaks down and needs to be towed, or if you are involved in an accident, you will be reimbursed for the cost of transport and shelter for your furry friends.
The benefits include up to $200 per incident to pay for moving your pet to where it needs to be, plus up to $160 per night (capped at $500) if boarding or pet-friendly accommodation needs to be arranged. If you are more than 100km from home and your animal companion must travel long distances, you are eligible for up to $1,000 transport cover per incident.
What isn’t covered?
The main exclusion to Pet Plus is that you cannot use it for accommodation that was already booked. In other words, if your car breaks down en route to a holiday destination where you have already organised pet-friendly lodgings, Pet Plus will pay up to $200 (or up to $1,000 for long-distance travel) to help your furry friend get there. However, you won’t be reimbursed for the cost of your accommodation.
Both transport and accommodation are dependent on the availability of suitable services, which might be problematic in remote areas or during peak seasons. Also, Pet Plus does not cover any additional out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of food or medication, that might accumulate while your pet is being looked after.
It's also important to note that animals whose vaccinations are not fully up to date might be refused lodging in pet accommodation facilities. If your pet is sick or behaving in a threatening way and NRMA staff decide there is a risk that their health might be jeopardised as a result, you might miss out on Pet Plus services as well.
Why choose NRMA Pet Plus?
Pet Plus enables people who frequently travel with their pets to access a national network of pet service providers, vets and accommodation options. It can be particularly useful if you are more than 100km from home: you can claim up to $1,000 if you need a long-distance animal carrier to take your pet to your intended destination or a suitable boarding facility, or simply to bring it home.
If you opt for Lost Pet Service, included as part of Pet Plus, you will receive an individually numbered metallic tag which improves your chances of being reunited with your furry friend. Anyone finding your animal can contact the NRMA at any time of day or night, all year-round, and you can be identified as the owner without the need for microchip scanning. The NRMA will then use all practicable means to put you in touch with the person who has found your pet.
NRMA says it “will make every effort” to help you ensure your four-legged friend receives prompt treatment if you have an accident and it is injured while travelling with you. This includes arranging transport by Pet Taxi, vet pickup, Animal Welfare League pickup or whatever other options are available.