Best pet insurance Australia: How to find good cover
Your beloved deserves the right pet insurance. Here’s where you can get it.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
Must read: What's the best pet insurance?
The best insurance is the one that meets your needs and circumstances. What's best for someone else, mightn't be best for you. Read on to find out what to look for in a policy, and how to make sure your pet is getting the right coverage for their needs.
Top pick for most popular - Woolworths Pet Insurance
We've selected Woolworths pet insurance as our most popular pick because during the period of October 2020 to January 2021, Woolworths had more clicks than any other Finder partner in our comparison tables from Finder visitors.
Its comprehensive policy comes with a $24,000 annual limit which is much higher than most other competitors – you'll usually find that it's around $15,000 – and it lets you claim up to 80% of your vet bill back. It's good value too. Woolworths will price beat any lower comparable quote you find.
Woolworths' policies also come with a few additional perks. You get 10% off your Woolies shop once a month, $10 goes to PetRescue when you sign up and it's one of the few providers to let you claim your benefit on the spot – you just need to pay the remaining 20%. Routine care is also automatically included with a comprehensive policy which can pay for things like vaccinations, dental treatment and health checks.
Top pick for annual limit - Knose Dog Cover
At $25,000, Knose has the highest annual benefit limit out of the 15 pet insurers compared on Finder – that's around $10,000 more a year than many other insurers. If your pet is seriously injured or ill, some surgeries can cost as much as $20,000, so it's not unreasonable to want an annual benefit limit as high as $25,000. When you sign up through Finder, Knose will also knock 10% off your premiums for the first year.
It's also one of the few pet insurers that don't have sub-limits for specific ailments like paralysis tick. The majority will restrict the amount you can claim for specific treatments. For example, most will only let you claim between $1,000 and $1,500 for paralysis tick treatment, which in some cases may not be enough to cover the total cost of treatment.
Top pick for benefit percentage - Petsy Dog accidental injury and illness cover (Vet Select)
We reviewed 15 pet insurance policies from Finder partners, filtering by the maximum benefit percentage. Petsy Dog's Vet Select accidental injury and illness policy is one of the only pet insurance policies on Finder to let you claim 100% back on your vet bills. There are a couple of others that do this, but unlike most policies, you don't have to pay an excess either. That means when you make a claim, you'll have no out of pocket expenses – a rarity in pet insurance.
So what's the catch? Your pet needs to be over 8 weeks old and younger than 8 years old.
Top pick for discount - Woolworths Pet Insurance
If you're looking for discounts, Woolies is our pick of the bunch, with the most discounts on offer compared to 14 other policies available on Finder at the time of writing. It offers three discounts at the moment:
- 1 year of free access to credible vet advice from licensed vets through the VetAssist program - available 24/7 via video or online chat (valued at $199 p.a).
- Price Beat on similar pet insurance policies.
- Pet insurance aside, you can get 10% off your grocery shop once a month.
Top pick for routine care - PIA Major Medical Cover
We reviewed the 15 pet insurance policies available on Finder. Of the two that automatically offer routine care, we chose PIA's Major Medical Cover as our routine care pick because it comes with a $50 annual benefit for treatments including desexing, microchipping, health checks, training and teeth cleaning. On top of that, you can get annual benefits for all of the following:
- Vaccinations or health check – $30
- Heartworm test or blood screen – $10
- FeLV/FIV test or urinalysis – $10
- Flea/tick/worm control – $45
$50 might not seem like much, but because it's automatically included and you don't need to pay an excess, it can be a helpful perk to have, especially if you know or think your pet is likely to need one of the treatments listed above.
What cover should the best policy provide?
A quick way to determine how good a policy is is to have a look at its reimbursement rate (or the maximum amount of vet bills you'll be covered for), and the annual benefit limit (the maximum cash amount that you're covered for). A high reimbursement rate and benefit limit will mean that generally, you'll probably be less likely to be out of pocket if your pet has a particularly bad year.
The reimbursement rate for comprehensive policies will generally sit at around 80%. At the time of writing, we have two providers, Petsy and Vetschoice, who both offer a higher rate of 100%.
The maximum yearly benefit for comprehensive policies varies pretty widely, but it's usually between $12,000 and $20,000. Knose and Petsy exceed this with a higher limit of $25,000.
What else should the best policy be covering me for?
There are some other things you should definitely be considering if you've got the budget for it.
If you want to give your pet the highest protection money can buy, you may want to consider 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 $10,000.
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 usually provides 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 is usually 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 up to a certain amount. Comprehensive policies will usually cover around $1,000 of this.
Overseas travel insurance. Your policy may offer cover if your pet requires veterinary treatment while travelling with you overseas, usually up to 60 days.
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. However, be sure to check how much it will cost you per month as the payoff isn't always as good as you may think.
How do brands compare on maximum cover?
The next two sections use four brands listed on finder.com.au to show how maximum cover can compare between brands.
The total benefit limits are important. These are the total amounts you can claim in a 12-month period. Vet bills can often exceed $1,000 in a year, and one-off costs for injury can quickly exceed this amount if something goes wrong. Pet insurance is designed to prevent the risk of being faced with unaffordable costs, and higher total limits do more to reduce this risk.
Our research reveals the average annual cost of pet insurance for a 5-year old labrador:
|Accident only policy||$443|
|Accident & illness policy||$929|
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 you can 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.
Is pet insurance right for me?
What should I look for when comparing policies?
When you’re doing a comparison of 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 need to.
- The maximum age accepted for new applications. Some policies will not cover your pet once it reaches a certain age.
- 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 percentage of vet bills that will be covered. This generally ranges between 65% - 80%. It’s crucial to understand what you are liable to pay so you can assess if the veterinary treatment is affordable to you. Even if the policy appears to cover 100% of some costs, check the terms and conditions of your policy to check if the age or breed of your pet means that you are required to pay additional cover.
- 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 in Australia?
While there is no singular method to determine the best pet insurance policy, a good way to find the right 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 the 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, who 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, whether the company can be reached 24 hours a day and how fast are claims processed — and a range of reviews from previous customers.
More guides on Finder
Going up: 4.6 million health insurance customers are missing out on potential savings
Millions of Australians could be missing out saving money on their health insurance policy, according to Finder, Australia’s most visited comparison site.
Home office insurance
We talk you through how to get home office insurance.
Does home insurance cover hearing aids?
Want hearing aid insurance? Home insurance is the answer.
Fixtures and fittings: Why they matter in home insurance
Knowing the difference between fixtures and fittings can help you decide which home insurance policy is right for you.
BMW X7 car insurance
Thinking about buying a BMW X7? See average car insurance costs and find out about prestige car insurance
Bentley Continental car insurance
Learn about insuring a Bentley Continental with a prestige car insurance broker
Mercedes-Benz G-Class luxury car insurance
Find out about how to insure the luxury Mercedes-AMG G 63 4x4 SUV.
How much do dentures cost in Australia?
Find out how much dentures cost in Australia and how you can get cover with mid-level health insurance.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class car insurance
Find out how much the average Mercedes-Benz E-Class costs to insure, as well as how to find a prestige car insurer.
How to start a pet sitting business
Do you love working with animals? Find out how to start your pet sitting business.
You might like these...
How much does it cost to insure a dog in Australia?
Ask an Expert