Guide to Find the Best Pet Insurance* in Australia
As the level of veterinary care available to our pets has continued to advance, the cost of vet bills has also increased. While this is wonderful for our four-legged friends, sometimes the bills for unexpected injuries and illnesses can be simply too much for owners to afford. Every vet in Australia will be able to relate stories of dog or cat owners who simply adore their pets, but had to have them put to sleep because they were unable to afford the cost of treatment.
This is an undoubtedly painful and heartbreaking situation, but it’s one you can avoid. Pet insurance is designed to provide cover for up to 80% of the vet bills for unexpected emergencies. You can take out accident only cover, accident and illness cover or a comprehensive insurance plan, while you can also tailor your policy to help cover the cost of routine care items like vaccinations and vet check ups.
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What Cover Should the Best Pet Insurance* Policy Provide?
For pet owners on a tight budget, a no-frills pet insurance policy can provide adequate protection for your pet and your finances. If you want to give your pet the best protection money can buy, your best bet is to go for a comprehensive pet insurance policy. While the exact cover offered under such a policy differs between providers, a comprehensive plan will typically include cover for:
- Accidental injury. Your insurer will pay a percentage (usually around 80%) of the vet expenses you incur when treating an accidental injury to your pet. Injuries include those sustained in car accidents, from snake bites, allergic reactions to insect bites, injuries from falls, bone fractures, ligament and tendon injuries and more. You’ll be able to claim up to a certain amount each year, for example up to a limit of $12,000.
- Illness. If your pet suffers a specified illness, your policy will cover up to 80% of the veterinary costs you incur as a result. This can include cover for imaging services, cancer treatments, and treatment for a range of common illnesses. However, you will not be covered if your pet contracts an illness which it could have been vaccinated for, or if its illness is related to a pre-existing condition.
- Emergency boarding. If you are your pet’s sole carer and you are hospitalised for more than five consecutive days, a comprehensive policy will provide cover for the cost of finding emergency boarding for your pet.
- Essential euthanasia. In cases where euthanasia is deemed as the most humane option and an essential course of action by your vet, the cost of having your pet euthanised will also be covered.
- Paralysis tick benefit. If your pet requires treatment for tick paralysis, this policy option will ensure that the cost of this treatment is covered. However, keep in mind that things like tick preventative treatment will not be covered.
- Overseas travel insurance. Your policy may offer cover if your pet requires veterinary treatment while travelling with you overseas.
- Routine care. This optional benefit can be added on to comprehensive policies and provides benefits to help you pay for preventative health care procedures for your pet, such as vet check-ups and vaccinations.
How Much Will the Best Pet Insurance* Policy Cost?
As mentioned, you can choose from a variety of policy options that are designed to meet the needs and budgets of a range of pet owners. If you opt for a no-frills policy, you’ll obviously have to pay less than you will if you take out a comprehensive plan.
On top of this, there are other factors that will influence how much you have to pay for your premiums. These include:
- Your location. Your premium is based on the risk your pet poses to an insurer, something which can obviously be influenced by your location. For example, your pet may be more likely to be bitten by a snake or by certain insects in specific areas of the country.
- Your pet’s age. Just like with humans, older pets tend to pose more of a risk than their younger counterparts. Our pets experience more health issues as they age and also take longer to recover from injuries and illnesses.
- Your pet’s breed. Certain breeds are more likely to suffer from certain medical issues, as genetic predispositions may make them more likely to suffer certain injuries or illnesses. In addition, larger dog breeds generally cost more to treat and to look after than smaller dogs, so expect this to influence your premium costs.
- Your selected deductible/reimbursement levels. What proportion of your vet bills will your policy cover and up to what limit each year? The price of your premiums will also be affected by any optional extras you choose to add to your cover.
What Pet Insurance Policies are Available in Australia?
As a nation, Australia boasts one of the highest incidences of pet ownership in the world. It’s estimated that there are more than 25 million pets in Australia, so there are many different policy options available to suit the needs and budgets of different pet owners.
The most basic type of cover you can take out for your pet is accident only cover. As the name suggests, this provides cover for up to 80% of your vet bills when your pet is injured in an accident. This includes injuries from car accidents, snake bites, allergic reactions to insect bites, burns and falls. However, it’s important to remember that tick and flea bites are commonly not covered. This is a no-frills option and is designed to offer essential and affordable cover for most pet owners.
A step up from basic cover is an accident and illness policy. In addition to the accidents mentioned above, this type of policy will also provide cover for the vet bills you’ll be slugged with when your pet suffers one of a range of illnesses. This will typically include cancer, skin conditions, hereditary problems and other infectious diseases. However, remember that pre-existing conditions and illnesses that can be vaccinated against will be exclude from cover.
At the top of the tree is comprehensive cover. In addition to the accidents and illnesses already mentioned, you’ll be able to add cover for routine care. This may include vaccinations, vet check-ups, obedience training, heartworm prevention and other preventative treatments.Back to top
How Do I Compare the Best Pet Insurance* Policies?
When you’re doing a comparison of competing pet insurance policies, make sure to compare the following features:
- Cooling-off period. How long do you have from the policy commencement date to make sure that you are happy with the features of your policy? A longer cooling-off period gives you more time to change your mind about cover should you want to.
- Renewal of policy. Check whether your policy can be set up to be automatically renewed every year. This saves you the hassle of taking out a new policy every year, but remember that you’ll have to continue paying premiums to maintain cover.
- What is covered under the policy. You’ll need to read product disclosure statements closely to determine the exact level of coverage offered. Does one policy offer cover for a wider range of illness, injuries and treatments than another. Weigh up the pros and cons of each level of cover.
- What is excluded. Just like any other form of insurance, a pet insurance policy will contain a list of exclusions. These will include pre-existing conditions, illnesses which your pet can be vaccinated for, and circumstances where you have not acted reasonably to safeguard your pet’s health. Check out the list of exclusions on each policy to make sure you know exactly when cover will and will not apply.
- Excess. Excesses typically range from $0-500, so this can obviously have a big impact on the effectiveness and affordability of your policy. Knowing how much you will have to pay when you make a claim can save you from a nasty surprise in the future.
- The cover limit. What is the maximum dollar amount that you can claim under your policy each year? It’s obviously a good idea to look for the policy with the highest limit.
- Policy flexibility. Keep an eye out for a range of flexible options that can help you tailor a policy to your needs. Does a policy offer flexible premium repayment options, such as the ability to pay weekly or perhaps monthly? What about when you want to cancel your policy — do you have to pay a fee or jump through any other hoops to do so? How easy is it to lodge a claim and how quickly are claims processed?
- Other features. A range of other features you should look out for include the minimum and maximum age at which your pet can take out cover, the percentage of your vet bills that can be paid, as well as whether or not a tick paralysis benefit is provided. You can also check whether hereditary conditions are covered, how the reimbursement amount is determined, whether any limits or caps apply, and whether the policy limit is calculated on a per-claim or per-year basis.
How Do I Find the Best Pet Insurance* Online?
The best way to find the right pet insurance policy for your dog or cat is to shop around and do plenty of research. To help you on your shopping adventure, consider the following steps when looking for cover.
- Consider your cover requirements. How much cover do you want for your pet? Do you want basic cover, accident and illness cover or a comprehensive policy? Think about how you would manage to pay vet bills without an insurance policy in place, as well as what cover limit would be suitable for you.
- Read reviews online. One of the most sensible things to do when looking for pet insurance is to read reviews online. There are plenty of review sites that give you the opportunity to learn about other people’s experiences with insurers and individual policies. The internet is a great resource and easy to use, but remember to use common sense when assessing the veracity and accuracy of each review.
- Receive a range of different quotes. Don’t simply sign up for the first pet insurance policy you come across. Instead, obtain multiple quotes for a range of policies to get an idea of how much you will have to pay and the value of cover. It’s quick and simple to get all the quotes you want online.
- Read the policy conditions and watch out for any fine print. Reading product disclosure statements might not be much fun but it is a necessary step in the insurance buying process. Doing this will help give you a more accurate assessment of just how much each quote you receive is truly worth. Look at the benefits, limits and exclusions offered by each policy, as this will ensure you know exactly when you are and are not covered.
- Compare the price to the cover provided. Look for a policy that offers a good balance between an affordable price and the level of cover available. This involves taking a number of factors into account to ensure you end up with the right policy.
- Choose a reputable company. It’s important that you choose an insurance provider with a solid and upstanding reputation. In order to do so, take into account the range of policies the company offers, any rewards it has received, whom the policies are underwritten by and the company’s reputation within the industry. It’s also a good idea to compare the quality of the customer service offered by different providers — for example, can the company be reached 24 hours a day and how fast are claims processed — and a range of reviews from previous customers.
Find the Best Pet Insurance*
If you take the time to compare policies and hunt around for the right one, you’ll be able to find one that meets all your pet insurance needs. With the right policy in place, you and your pet can simply do what you do best and get on with life.Back to top
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.