Pets are an important part of many families. We sometimes form stronger bonds with our furry companions than we do with people. But being members of our family, pets can incur a lot of costs, including feeding, bathing, grooming and vet bills.
And not everyone adopts a kitten or a puppy. There’s a growing trend of adopting older rescued animals and giving them a high quality of life in their twilight years. Pet insurance can help offset these costs and give you the peace of mind that your old mate can have a comfortable retirement.
This guide outlines the funds that cover senior pets, what to look for in a policy and how you can help Larry the Labrador feel comfortable in his older years.
Our pick: Guide Dogs Pet Insurance
Looking to cover your furry friend against illnesses? Guide Dogs Pet Insurance is the only policy on our panel that offers illness cover for pets over the age of 9. All other policies exclude illnesses and will only cover your pet in the event of an accident.
With a maximum yearly benefit of $15,000, a tick paralysis benefit of $1,500, and $3,200 cover for cruciate ligament conditions, Guide Dogs is the king of the hill.
Protect your best mate - compare pet insurance policies
Featuring Guide Dogs Pet Insurance
Featuring Guide Dogs Pet Insurance
Protect your furry friend while supporting Guide Dogs Australia.
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.
Updated August 20th, 2019
What types of insurance are available for older dogs and cats?
Pet insurance for younger dogs and cats is easy enough to find. And while it may initially seem impossible, finding a fund that covers your older pet isn’t as hard as it seems.
Due to the high likelihood of illness, you’ll find that most funds won’t cover older pets in their comprehensive plans. However, many funds cover senior pets under their more “basic” levels of cover.
Policies that cover accidents only are generally the cheapest and the most basic and often the annual claim limits are comparable to the more premium policies on offer.
What providers cover for senior pets?
Here’s a quick look at some of the some of the providers on finder.com.au that cover senior pets:
It’s highly unlikely that you can get comprehensive insurance for a pet over the age of nine. Pets at this age are far more likely to have pre-existing conditions and be more susceptible to illness, so insuring them for these things is unfortunately almost impossible.
If you have the luxury of being able to do so, get your pet insured before their 9th birthday. This will ensure that your pet is covered well into their senior years, provided their cover doesn’t lapse.
What additional extras are available?
Many pet owners want more than just basic cover for the furriest member of their family. Consider these additional extras for your insurance policy:
Illness. This covers issues such as infections, coughs and colds.
Cancer treatment. This covers surgery and treatment for your pet in association with cancer.
Pre-existing and hereditary conditions. This is not covered by the basic policies, but if you insure your pet later in life, it’s essential.
3 things to look out for when insuring your senior pet
What factors should you be considering when insuring your dog or cat?
If your pet is over 8 years old you probably won't be able to get cover for illnesses. Most insurers won't cover your pet for illnesses once they're over the age of 9. However, if you're able to, take out cover before your pet turns 8. Your insurer will usually cover you past the age of 9, provided your cover with them doesn't lapse.
Pre-existing conditions won't be covered. If you are able to take out illness cover, note that you won't be able to get cover for any pre-existing conditions. This sometimes means that you won't be covered for all conditions related to those illnesses and injuries. So if your pet shows any signs of a skin condition, all skin conditions will be excluded.
My pet can’t get covered. What other options do I have?
If you’ve searched everywhere and discovered that your older pet can’t get insured or the cost of the premium is far outside of your means, what can you do for the older furry gentleman or lady in your life?
Keep them active
Don’t let your pets lay about in front of the fire, get them up and active. Slow walks are better than no walks at all and swimming can be easy on the old joints as well. Take them along to the park and just get them moving.
Don’t let them get fat
Just like people, overweight pets can face some serious health issues, especially later in life. Strain on the heart, breathing difficulties and being too heavy to get up and exercise are just some of the conditions that can affect an overweight animal. Feed your pet good food in measured portions. Don’t be tempted by Missy’s big brown eyes, don’t give her another treat!
The diet of an older pet is different to a young or juvenile one. Being slower means that food will take longer to be digested, so it has a higher chance of being stored as fat. Plus, older animals need more nutrition from their diet. Ask your vet what the best food is for your aging furry friend.
Monitor their environment
In the human world we have ramps for those who have trouble walking up stairs. Older pets have similar issues and arthritis or lack of energy can impact an old dog’s quality of life. Install ramps or even change the social environment of your home to include your pet.
More vet visits
With age comes more visits to the vet and this is inevitable as age-related health issues arise. Use these visits as an opportunity to ask questions and get advice to make your pet’s twilight years just as fulfilling as their younger days.
Science has shown that owning a pet has some incredible health benefits and the unconditional love of a dog or a cat can make your life so much happier. Although it is easier to insure a younger animal, if you do happy to visit a shelter and there is an older cat or dog that pulls at your heart strings, understand that the love you provide may come at a higher-than-normal cost. But who can put a price tag on puppy love?
Other questions you might have about seniors pet insurance
With more older adoptions from pet shelters occurring, sometimes it’s difficult to know just how old your pet is. Insurance companies would like a vet to give their opinion on age, but in general they will accept an honest estimation of age from you.
The short answer is no. Insurance companies will not cover treatment for pre-existing conditions or ailments relating to a pre-existing condition.
Will Eve is the lead publisher of the global team at Finder. He was previously the group publisher for insurance for Finder Australia. Will has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney. He loves the challenge of launching Finder into new markets while helping grow Finder’s global team.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
Important information about this website
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of major banks, insurers and product issuers.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product. You should consider whether the products featured on our site are appropriate for your needs and seek independent advice if you have any questions.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or "Advertisement" are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options and find the best option for you.
The identification of a group of products, as 'Top' or 'Best' is a reflection of user preferences based on current website data. On a regular basis, analytics drive the creation of a list of popular products. Where these products are grouped, they appear in no particular order.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.