Need to protect your pooch? You'd be barking mad to go without pet insurance for dogs.
Between speeding cars, illnesses, poisonous wildlife and everything else, most dogs will encounter life-threatening conditions at some point. It only takes one bad day to leave you with significant vet bills. Pet insurance can save you from needing to choose between your bank balance and your furry friend.
Compare dog insurance quotes from Aussie companies
How does pet insurance work for dogs?
A pet insurance policy for a dog works the same as any other pet insurance policy - you pay a premium each month, and in return you'll be covered for a portion of your vet bills (usually around 80%).
- There's really only two different types of policies. You've got your accident only policy - which will cover you if your dog accidentally hurts themselves - and you've got the accident and illness policies, which will cover your pup if they develop an illness like cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, or cruciate conditions (to name a few!). The comprehensive policy is still an accident and illness policy, but you'll generally have higher limits on your cover and may also have a routine care option.
- There's a maximum you'll be paid out each year - the higher the better. Each policy also has an annual limit, which is essentially the maximum amount you can claim in a 12-month period. The limits for cheap policies typically lies around $5,000. Mid-level policies are around $10,000, whilst high-level comprehensive policies can cover around $15,000 per year. We've even got one provider, Guide Dogs, who offers a huge annual limit of $20,000.
- There's age limits. Most policies won't cover your pup until they're eight weeks old. For policies that include illness cover, there will often be an age cap of 9 years old. This means that if you want to get cover for illnesses, you should really be taking out cover for your dog before their ninth birthday. Missed the mark? Guide Dogs Basic Care plan still offers some illness cover to older dogs.
- You might have to pay an excess - but you can easily avoid this. Whenever you want to make a claim, you'll need to pay an excess. Many pet insurance companies offer a $0 excess, which means that you won't have to pay out more if something bad happens to your pup.
What does pet insurance for dogs cover?
Pet insurance can:
- Pay for most of your dog’s medical and surgical costs
- Let you access a range of treatments that might otherwise be unaffordable, and help ensure that you can give your dog a high level of care
- Provide a way to protect your investment if you have a rare breed of dog or have plans to breed your dog in the future
- Stop you from having to choose between money and your dog’s life
Policies are designed to help cover some of the more common conditions that dogs will encounter over time. When picking out a policy, you can mix and match cover to include accidents, illnesses and routine care costs to find a level of cover that works for you.
Accidental injury cover.
This is the most basic level of pet insurance. It covers physical injuries caused by specific events, such as a car hitting your dog. Here are some other scenarios where your dog may be covered:
- Motor vehicle incidents
- Burns and electrocution
- Allergic reactions to insect bites other than fleas and ticks
- Bone fractures
- Snake bites
- Bite wounds or fight wound abscesses
- Lacerations, cuts, abrasions and other injuries caused by external, physical forces
Accident and Illness cover.
This is the middle-tier of cover. It covers you for accidents, as well as the following conditions:
- Cruciate ligament conditions
- Surgical or endoscopic removal of foreign objects
- Brain, liver and heart conditions
- Many other sicknesses or diseases not covered by accidental injury cover
This covers you for all of the above with higher limits, in addition to routine care cover. This is a useful, but optional, extra that can help cover the cost of important preventative care. Depending on the insurer and the policy, it can help cover the cost of the following:
- Desexing, spaying or otherwise neutering
- Dental cleaning
- Council registration fees
- Obedience training
- Preventative heartworm treatments
- Cremation or burial
What level of cover should I get?
The right insurance policy for you is one that’s affordable for you and delivers an appropriate level of cover. Unsurprisingly, the more cover you get, the more a policy will typically cost. The most comprehensive policies will naturally provide the highest level of cover, but may not always be an option. These are generally the levels of pet insurance available:
- Accident cover. If you can’t afford a high level of cover, you can choose a basic accident-only policy to help cover the unexpected injuries your dog may suffer as a result of an accident. These policies will not cover illnesses or diseases.
- Mid-level cover. This option balances cost and cover, providing cover for both accidents and illnesses. A mid-level policy typically has a total annual limit that falls between basic and comprehensive policies amounts. Mid-level cover limits are typically about $10,000.
- Comprehensive cover. If price is not an object, a comprehensive policy offers the highest level of cover available. The conditions covered by these policies are often the same as those offered by mid-level cover, but with higher annual limits. With some insurers, routine care cover will only be available at this level. Pure-bred dogs can be prone to more health issues, so if you can afford it, comprehensive cover will certainly have its value.
Are there any additional benefits?
Many policies will also cover the cost of emergency boarding if you’re hospitalised and essential euthanasia1 if it’s the most humane course of action. You can also find policies that offer tick paralysis benefits to help you out if a paralysis tick bites your dog. It can also offer overseas pet health cover to cover your pet outside of Australia. These are separate additional benefits and should not be confused with routine care cover.
Is routine care worth having?
Many places will tell you that routine care cover is worth having - we're not one of them.
In most cases, your annual limit for routine care cover will be $50. Yet, some insurers still charge you around $10 a month extra for this. If you're not great at maths, this means that you're paying more for the cover than you're actually getting back.
Be sure to check each policy as this might not be the case across the board.
How much does pet insurance cost for dogs?
We already know that the breed and age of your dog can significantly affect the cost of your premiums. But what breeds are impacted most?
We've compiled a list of the average cost of insuring almost every dog breed. The following are some of our key findings:
- The average comprehensive dog insurance policy is $803 per annum.
- It costs more to insure pups like French Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Great Danes, and Rottweilers.
- Some well known dog breeds that are the cheapest to insure at one years old are Cavoodles, Jack Russells, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Spoodles and Australian Shepherds - all costing an average of $634 per year.
What are the cheapest dogs to insure in Australia?
|Jack Russell Terrier||$531|
What are the most expensive dogs to insure in Australia?
|Hygen Hound Cross||$1,161|
|Formosan Mountain Dog||$1,161|
|Italian Cane Corso||$1,161|
What won't your dog be covered for?
Some of the following exclusions, such as pre-existing conditions or lack of care will be found in all policies, while others such as dental problems are only sometimes present. Make sure you read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully so you know which exclusions apply to your policy.
- Pre-existing conditions. This is a big one. If you're pet has any pre-existing condition, get the insurer to tell you what you're not covered for in writing. There have been some instances where you wont get cover for seemingly unrelated conditions. For example, if your dog gets an injury on his right paw, some insurers won't cover any illnesses on their left paw as they could be related.
- Negligent or deliberate acts. Injuries resulting from your own deliberate acts or negligence, or those of someone living with you.
- Lack of care. Failing to take all reasonable steps and precautions to care for your pet, including failing to follow your vet’s recommendations.
- Claims within waiting periods. Cruciate ligament claims, for example, will typically have a six-month waiting period. This means you can’t make a related claim within six months of taking out a policy, although many insurers will waive this if a vet has examined your dog and certified it free of symptoms.
- Preventable diseases. Any disease that could have been prevented through vaccination.
- Commercial purposes. Treatment for dogs being used for commercial purposes, such as greyhounds and guard dogs (guide dogs are exempt).
- Breeding or obstetrics
- Dental problems or oral disease
- Pet grooming or bathing
- Ambulance fees and non-essential hospitalisation
- Behavioural problems
- Training, socialisation, therapy and alternative therapies
- Pet food, vitamins and dietary supplements
- Elective treatments such as desexing
- Unapproved medications
- Organ transplant surgery
- Prosthetics or artificial limbs
- Cell replacement therapies
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