Everything you need to know about pet insurance

 
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Why's pet insurance important?

For so many of us, pets are a big part of the family. They rely on us for food, shelter, and a loving scratch behind the ears. In return, our pets give us unconditional love, companionship, and even improved health.

But sometimes, our pets get up to no good which may mean an unexpected trip to the vet! Vet bills can be very expensive, and pet insurance can help by reimbursing some of the cost of the treatment for your pet, so that your out of pocket costs may be minimal. If your beloved pet gets ill or is injured in an accident, you’d want to know that you can give them the very best care without worrying how you can afford it.


Vet bills come out of your pocket

There’s no Medicare equivalent for our furry friends, so a trip to the vet is at your expense. While a routine visit can be budgeted for, emergency treatment or surgery can be expensive to the point of being unaffordable. This presents some owners with a devastating dilemma: fork out a hefty sum, let their pet suffer, or be put down if recommended as humane. This is where pet insurance comes in handy: you can claim up to 85% of eligible vet bills* in the event of an accidental injury or covered illness, so when faced with such a dilemma, you can afford to give your pet the treatment they need.


What’s pet insurance?

Pet insurance helps you give your pet the care they need in the event of a covered illness or accidental injury. Depending on the level of cover, for an insured dog or cat, an owner can:

  • claim up to 85% of eligible vet bills, up to a maximum of $20,000 per year*;
  • cover their pets from as young as 8 weeks; and
  • use their own vet as long as they’re licensed to practice in Australia.

Some policies offer extra benefits on top of the standard policy such as emergency boarding, essential euthanasia, overseas pet travel insurance, and paralysis ticks at no extra cost. For a small increase to your premium, you can also choose to add a routine care benefit to your policy and this helps cover the cost of some typical preventative treatments.

* Pre-existing conditions and some illnesses are excluded. Benefit limits, sub-limits and annual condition limits apply. Claim for reimbursement. Information is general. Please read and consider the relevant Policy Booklet (containing the Product Disclosure Statement, Policy Terms and Conditions, and Financial Services Guide) before purchasing for specific details of the policy’s inclusions and exclusions based on your selected level of cover.


Top 10 most common pet medical conditions and total cost of claims ranked by number of claims by Petsure claim statistics 2018-2019

Diagnoses

No of claims

Total claim amount

Otitis externa 10,000 $1,065,627.88
Cruciate disease 8,520 $3,403,739.08
Gait abnormality - lameness 6,683 $940,045.44
Ear (aural) infection 6,419 $700,966.95
Hypersensitivity (allergic) skin disorder - atopic dermatitis 6,299 $980,513.56
Arthritis 6,011 $417,086.42
Dermatitis 5,714 $643,499.18
Hypersensitivity disorder (allergy) 5,102 $602,672.83
Conjunctivitis 3,751 $294,317.47
Faecal appearance abnormal - diarrhoea 3,627 $655,667.60

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance is available for cats and dogs. The type of cover that Choosi can arrange offers a combined accidental injury and illness cover with extras that can be added (see table below). The relevant Policy Booklet (containing the Product Disclosure Statement, Policy Terms and Conditions, and Financial Services Guide) outlines which illnesses and injuries are covered under a policy.

Pet insurance can be purchased for puppies and kittens aged from 8 weeks old. If you’re taking a new policy for an older cat or dog, you may find that some insurers have an age limit of younger than 9 years (some policies cover up to younger than 16 years) and won’t cover your pet. However, once you have the policy in place, you can renew your policy each year regardless of your pet’s age, provided there’s no break on your cover (your renewal may also be subject to other renewal terms and conditions from your insurer). In other words, your policy won’t expire once your pet turns 9 (or 16 for some policies) years old, as long as you took out the policy before your pet turned 9 (or 16 for some policies). You’ll need to refer to each individual Policy Booklet for all of the relevant policy’s inclusions, terms and conditions, and exclusions.

With pet insurance, some policies offer benefits on top of the standard policy including emergency boarding, essential euthanasia, and paralysis ticks. You can also add optional extra cover on top of the standard cover to some policies, such as routine care (an additional premium applies) (see the table below for how these can add value to a pet insurance policy).

 
A puppy visiting a vet
With pet insurance, you may be able to claim up to 85% of the vet bills for your dog’s broken bones.

What doesn’t it cover?

It’s important to know that like any other type of insurance, pet insurance policies have exclusions to the cover. Typically, these are:

  • pre-existing conditions, related conditions, or conditions arising within the applicable waiting period;
  • dental care;
  • certain treatments and conditions;
  • certain services and procedures;
  • elective treatments and procedures; and
  • lack of protection for pet due to gross negligence.

The Policy Booklet will set out the above exclusions in more detail. It’s recommended that you read and understand the Policy Booklet so you’re clear what won’t be covered. You also need to refer to your Certificate of Insurance for any additional information specific to your pet insurance policy.


What are the types of cover?

While there are some polices that only cover accidental injuries, the pet insurance policies that Choosi can arrange cover both accidental injuries and specified illnesses, with pre-existing conditions excluded. Through Choosi, you can choose a policy that allows you to claim up to 85% of eligible vet bills by up to $20,000 per year.*

  • Optional routine care

    Including this in your policy for an additional premium can help cover the cost of some routine health checks or procedures that are otherwise not covered, such as vaccinations, de-sexing, and worming. Be sure to check the Policy Booklet and your Certificate of Insurance for specifics regarding routine care.

  • Emergency boarding

    Cover to help with the cost of boarding at a registered kennel or cattery up to an agreed amount, if you, the sole carer, are unexpectedly hospitalised, or need emergency accommodation due to family violence, for a specified period and unable to care for your pet.

  • Essential euthanasia

    If a vet deems euthanasia essential and humane treatment for your pet as a result of a condition covered under your policy, the benefit percentage will be covered up to your chosen benefit limit.

  • Paralysis ticks

    Tick bites are very serious and can cause paralysis in pets that can be fatal if untreated.1 The benefit percentage will be covered up to the specified sub-limit.


How much does it cost?

Your premium will depend on things like the cover you have chosen, the benefit percentage, where you and your pet permanently live and the species, breed, and age of your pet. Check out our FAQs for more information on how your premium is calculated.


Doing the sums

For a cat, the average cost of pet insurance premiums for the year is $542, a small dog $812, a medium sized dog $879 and for a large dog, $838.2

Let’s put this into context. If your dog got an eye infection, this could set you back a staggering $1,000. However, if you had pet insurance and your policy covered up to 85% of this vet bill, then 85% of $1,000 is $750, which you may receive back if you make a successful claim. Even on a policy for a large dog costing $838, a $750 reimbursement from your pet insurance policy has almost paid for your entire year’s premium.

It’s important for you to select a level of cover that suits your needs and those of your pet. As inclusions and exclusions vary between policies, it’s best to do your homework. Choosi’s team of Choosers can help you compare, choose, and apply for pet insurance that will protect your furry loved one. Request a quote or contact our team today.


* Pre-existing conditions and some illnesses are excluded. Benefit limits, sub-limits and annual condition limits apply. Claim for reimbursement. Information is general. Please read and consider the relevant Policy Booklet (containing the Product Disclosure Statement, Policy Terms and Conditions, and Financial Services Guide) before purchasing for specific details of the policy’s inclusions and exclusions based on your selected level of cover.

References  

  1. TicksAnimal Welfare League NSW
  2. What Does Pet Insurance Cost (2019)?Canstar


The pet insurance information provided on this website is based only on the pet insurance policies that Choosi can arrange. Choosi doesn’t provide information or offer cover for all products available in the market and there may be aspects to some products that Choosi doesn’t compare. Information on this website doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the relevant Policy Booklet for more information and to ensure the product suits your needs.


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