It's a tough truth to face, but there's no universal cheap pet insurance. But if you're looking to protect your pet without breaking the bank, you'll probably benefit from an accident-only policy. These are considerably cheaper than comprehensive policies, and can still give you a safety net if your pet gets into trouble.
What would you do if your pet got in an accident?
Featuring Guide Dogs Pet Insurance
Featuring Guide Dogs Pet Insurance
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Get back up to 85% of eligible vet bills – as much as $20,000 per year
$3,200 cruciate ligament conditions benefit and up to $2,000 tick paralysis benefit
No maximum age limit for illness cover, unlike other insurers
Why are we highlighting this product? Guide Dogs Pet Insurance offers the highest reimbursement rate, annual benefit limit, cruciate ligament and tick paralysis benefit among the pet insurers on our site. They're also the only insurer that covers your pet for illness if it's over 9 years old. While we do get compensated by Guide Dogs Pet Insurance, this doesn't influence our recommendation.
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Does it have lifetime cover? Many policies on finder let you get lifetime cover for your pets. If it is a guaranteed renewal offer, you can continue to renew an existing policy as long as you haven’t let your cover lapse.
Why might a low-cost accident-only policy suit me?
A comprehensive pet insurance policy might offer a wider range of cover for your four-legged friend, but you may still find that you can get suitable cover with a basic policy.
Basic accident-only pet insurance policies typically cover the following:
Injuries from car accidents
Burns and electrocution
Allergic reactions to insect bites, excluding ticks and fleas
Injuries such as bite wounds caused by other dogs
The annual claim limits of such policies, usually around $7,000 or $8,000 each year, should typically offer enough to pay for the appropriate treatments.
With an accident-only insurance policy in place, you can take your pet to any vet licensed to practice in Australia. There is generally no waiting period for accident claims, allowing you to make a claim the day after your policy comes into effect.
What do basic pet insurance policies not cover?
Basic pet insurance policies do not typically offer illness cover. There are other exclusions, however, which generally apply to even the most comprehensive policies.
Pre-existing conditions are typically not covered, unless you have made special arrangements with your insurer.
Negligence or deliberate acts, whether caused by you or by someone living with you.
Failure to take reasonable precautions or to appropriately care for your pet, such as not following your vet’s recommendations.
Specific types of treatment, such as breeding and obstetrics, oral or dental problems and grooming or bathing for your dog or cat, are also typically not covered. This also includes related injuries, such as if a groomer accidentally injures your dog while working.
Steps to get low-cost cover
Consider your cover requirements. How much cover do you need for your pet? Do you want a comprehensive policy that offers protection against a wide range of risks, or an accident only policy for those unexpected emergencies?
Look out for discounts and coupon codes. Keep an eye out for discount offers from pet insurers which can help you save money on your premiums. You can also search online for coupon codes that could let you enjoy savings and other attractive deals.
Multi-policy discounts. If you’ve got more than one pet, consider taking out insurance cover for all your four-legged friends with the same provider. Many insurers offer discounts when you insure multiple pets, so keep your eye out for a deal that could help you save money.
Compare quotes on a range of policies. Cost is a huge factor when buying insurance, so shop around and obtain quotes from a number of insurers. This is quick and easy to do online and will give you a good idea of how much your cover will cost. However, keep in mind that the cheapest quote you receive will not necessarily be the best.
Check for existing cover. Before you shop for pet insurance, make sure your pet is not covered in any way under another insurance policy you may have.
What you should be wary of with cheaper cover
Reduced range of benefits covered. You need to be aware of what benefits you will receive under your chosen policy. Don’t be confused into thinking that the benefits offered under a premium plan will apply to your budget policy.
No routine care benefit. Many cheap* pet insurance policies will give you the option of adding an extra routine care benefit to your cover. This will include cover for heartworm tests and blood screens, desexing, microchipping, vaccinations, regular check-ups and more. However, check to see whether it’s possible for you to add this benefit to your chosen policy.
Reduced maximum yearly benefit. If you find a cheap* policy that sounds too good to be true, check the fine print to see the maximum yearly benefit you are able to claim. You might be able to find a much higher benefit on a different policy, so take the time to weigh up your options.
Reduced annual maximum claim. How much are you able to claim each year? Are you able to make multiple claims per year?
No paralysis tick benefit. A number of cheap* insurance policies will not include a paralysis tick benefit for when your pet falls victim to one of these nasty parasites. Depending on where you live, this may be an important cover area for your dog or cat, so you might want to look for a policy that includes this option.
Reduced emergency boarding fees. Many policies will provide cover for emergency boarding fees if you are hospitalised for an extended period of time. Investigate the limit each policy provides for these fees and look for a plan that offers a higher limit.
Longer waiting period. Some cheap* policies will force you to sit out a longer waiting period before your cover takes effect. For example, you may have to wait six months before any cruciate ligament injuries will be covered. Try to find the policy with the shortest waiting periods to ensure your pet is covered as soon as possible.
Complicated claims process. When you’re shopping for an insurance policy it can be easy to forget about making a claim. Some insurers offer claims processes that are difficult and complicated, so look for a provider with a reputation for processing claims quickly and with a minimum of hassle.
No flexibility to adjust how premium is paid. Some cheap* insurance providers will lock you into a rigid premium payment schedule. Look for an insurance company that allows you to make repayments on a schedule that suits your budget, as well as one that allows you payment options like credit card or direct debit.
Poor customer service. Some cheap* insurance policy providers will have deserved reputations for providing subpar customer service. Choosing to insure with such a company will lead to nothing but trouble in the long run, so do your research and find an insurer with a reputation for valuing its customers and providing friendly and efficient service.
How can buying cover online help me save?
Simple and convenient. It is now easier than ever before to find pet insurance online. These policies are available direct from the insurer and are designed to be simple for the average consumer to understand. Thanks to the wonders of online shopping, you can hunt for the cover your pet needs without having to leave the comfort of your lounge.
Compare multiple policies at once. You have a wealth of information at your fingertips when shopping for pet insurance online. All it takes is a few clicks for you to be able to weigh up the pros and cons of competing policies at the same time. You can pore over product disclosure statements and quickly determine which policy comes out on top.
Plenty of choice. As cheap* pet insurance is an increasingly competitive sector of the insurance market, consumers have a wide range of products to choose from. From budget policies through to premium plans, there’s a policy out there to suit the needs and tastes of plenty of people. The freedom of choice allows you to find the right policy for your pet.
Value for money. You’ll be able to find plenty of deals and special offers when shopping for cheap* pet insurance cover online. This can allow you to enjoy big savings on your premiums.
Quick. The whole pet insurance process, from researching the different types of cover to completing your application, can be completed quickly. Approval is typically granted quite quickly and your pet will often be able to enjoy immediate coverage under some types of policies.
*The products compared on this page are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market. There is no perfect order or perfect ranking system for the products we list on our Site, so we provide you with the functionality to self-select, re-order and compare products. The initial display order is influenced by a range of factors including conversion rates, product costs and commercial arrangements, so please don't interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. We're happy to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions, but we'd like you to make your own decisions and compare and assess products based on your own preferences, circumstances and needs.
Richard Laycock is Finder’s insights editor after spending the last five years writing and editing articles about insurance. His musings can be found across the web including on MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. When he’s not doing deep dives on data, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his newfound home of New York. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance.
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