Do you have a pet? Find out why pet health insurance is an important financial product.
Thanks to recent advances in veterinary technology, our pets are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. While this is undoubtedly a wonderful thing, the offshoot of the developments in treatment options has been the rising cost of vet bills.
The shock of an expensive vet visit is something most pet owners can relate to. From serious illnesses to unexpected accidents and injuries, a range of problems can impact your pet’s health and your wallet. Unfortunately, some owners have little choice but to avoid treatment altogether because they simply cannot afford it, often with disastrous consequences for their furry friends.
It is because of these kinds of situations that pet health insurance is so important. This type of insurance is designed to help cover the cost of your pet’s medicine and treatment, guaranteeing that you won’t have to compromise on anything when it comes to your pet’s health. Not only is this great for your pet, it’s also beneficial for your hip pocket.
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Why Is Pet Health Insurance Important?
For many of us, our pets are an important member of our family. Pets can bring so much love and joy into our lives that we naturally want to do the best we possibly can for them in return.
But sometimes the financial reality of certain situations can stop us giving our pets the care they need. Without any assistance to cope with the cost of medical bills, some pet owners simply can’t afford to give their pets the treatment they need. All it can take is a simple error of judgement or a bit of bad luck and your pet could quickly rack up vet bills worth several thousands of dollars. As much as we want to, many of us simply can’t afford to fork out that sort of money, which can lead to some tragic consequences for our loving companion animals. Even if you can afford to pay for treatment, doing so can leave a significant dent in your family’s financial health.
But if you have pet health insurance in place, you won’t have to worry about the astronomical cost of some vet bills. Instead, you’ll be able to give your pet the care they deserve, ensuring that he has every chance of living a long, happy and healthy life. Your dog or cat will thank you for it, plus you’ll also be able to protect your family’s financial position.
What is Covered by Pet Health Insurance?
If you pet suffers an illness, there is little worse than not being able to help them. Pet health insurance allows pet owners to ensure than the beloved animals are protected from illness. Medical events covered by pet health insurance include:
- prescription medicines and drugs
- emergency boarding
- veterinary consultations
- skin conditions such as allergies
- specialist care
- ear/eye conditions
- diagnostic and laboratory tests
- infectious diseases
- cruciate ligament surgery
- after-hours emergency
- cancer treatment
- gastrointestinal problems
It is important to remember that the level of cover and policy features will vary from insurer to insurer, so make sure you have thoroughly read the applicable PDS.
Is Pet Health Insurance Worth the Money?
Whether or not pet health insurance is suitable for you depends on a number of factors. T
Speak to your vet and they will likely have some pros and cons. Every vet stories of owners having to put down their pets because they were unable to afford treatment.
However, some consumer groups do warn that pet health insurance can be an extravagance if you have a pet who is generally healthy. If you assume that you’ll pay on average $350 a year to insure your pet, over 10 years you’ll spend a total of $3,500 on insurance coverage. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a dog or cat who experiences few health problems, you may be better off setting a little money aside each week to cover any emergencies.
Tips for Comparing Pet Health Insurance Providers
There are more than 20 insurers who offer pet health insurance coverage in Australia, so choosing the right provider can be a tricky proposition. You’ll need to compare the services and policies of a number of providers before settling on the right one for you, and you can begin that process is online. Take advantage of comparison websites, which can provide resources and comparison tools to help you weigh up the pros and cons of different providers.
Start by looking for an insurer with a reputation for trustworthiness and reliability. Examine how long each company has been in the business for and who underwrites its policies. You’ll also need to consider whether you want to go with a specialist pet insurer or a company that also offers a range of other policies.
Finally, consider each company’s reputation for dealing with its customer service. Does the company have a friendly customer service team that you can contact whenever you need? How easy is it to make claims and how quickly are they processed? Answering these questions will help you determine which providers are able to satisfy your requirements.
Compare Pet Health Insurance
To find the right policy for you, it’s crucial that you compare a range of policies from the market. First of all, make sure you compare similar policies with one another, as the cover offered by an accident only policy is very different to the level of cover available under a comprehensive policy.
Once you’ve found a few policies that sound appealing, your best bet is to read over the product disclosure statements to see what each policy does and doesn’t cover. Examine the annual benefit limit of each policy, how much of your vet bills each policy covers, plus whether sub-limits apply for the treatment costs of certain conditions. Also consider whether you can add additional benefits to your policy, and whether there’s an option to take out cover for routine care, including vaccinations and regular vet check-ups.
Next, examine the list of exclusions on each policy. Many policies will exclude all pre-existing conditions, though it may be possible to reach some sort of agreement with your insurer. Other common exclusions include illnesses that can be vaccinated against, cut-off ages for older animals, breeding and pregnancy, and failure to take due care to protect your pet.
Last of all, spend a few minutes obtain quotes for multiple policies. This is quick and easy to do online and will give you a good idea as to whether or not one policy costs too much.
Pet Health Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions
Take a close look at the exclusions list on any pet health insurance policy and you’ll probably see the words pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is an injury or illness your pet had before the policy commenced or during the policy’s waiting period. If your pet has a pre-existing condition, many insurers will exclude that condition from your policy’s coverage entirely.
However, some insurers may allow you to take out cover for certain conditions. If your pet has previously suffered an illness or condition that was only temporary and is unlikely to recur, after a certain incident-free time period has passed you will be able to have this covered under your policy. These may include respiratory infections, bladder infections and gastrointestinal disorders.
It’s best to speak to your insurer to find out their policy when it comes to covering pre-existing conditions.
Pet Health Insurance Reviews
Online reviews of pet health insurance policies can be a great resource to help you find the right cover for you and your pet. Doing a simple Google search can help you turn up a wealth of reviews, many of which offer useful information about the features, benefits, limits and exclusions of policies.
However, there are certain things you need to be wary of when reading reviews, including:
- Angry customers. If a customer has had a bad experience with a pet insurance provider, this is definitely something you should take on board. However, take care to determine what the customer’s actual grievance with a company is — many may have simply failed to read the list of general exclusions and then become disgruntled when the company refused to pay their claim.
- Reviews on the insurer’s website. An insurance provider is hardly going to put a negative customer review on its website, so take these with a grain of salt.
- Who wrote the review. Was the review written by an industry professional? If so, what are their qualifications?
- Don’t base your opinion on one review. Read several reviews to get a more accurate overall picture of an insurance policy.
- Watch out for fake reviews. These are fairly rare but they are out there, so take care.
What to do Before Buying a Pet Health Insurance Policy
Before you start shopping around for cover, make sure you’re aware of the reasons why you want to take out a policy. Are you doing it for the peace of mind and because you love your pet, or are you doing it to lessen the burden from an astronomical vet bill? Do you want comprehensive cover or just a basic plan for worst case scenarios? Working out the answers to these questions will make your shopping experience easier.
Next, work out how much such a worst case scenario would cost to treat for your dog or cat. Costs can differ depending on the type of animal, breed, its age and whereabouts you are located across Australia. This will help you determine how much cover you need.
Do a lot of research and weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of a number of policies, making sure to read product disclosure statements closely. You need to know when you will be covered so you can avoid any nasty surprises in the future.
Finally don’t choose a policy based solely on the cost of the premiums. There are so many other factors that go into making the right policy for you, so examine all of a policy’s features before you sign on the dotted line.
The many benefits of pet health insurance cover are plain to see. Finding the right cover will ensure that you can look after your pet’s wellbeing and your family’s financial position, guaranteeing peace of mind if your pet does find itself suffering from health problems. Just make sure you compare a range of pet policies before choosing the one for your needs.