Pet Insurance -what you need to know

With the rising costs of pet health, insuring your pet against injury and illness might be a good option for you and your family.

Pet insurance is a way to prepare for unexpected vet bills. Statistics show that one in every 3 pets will require emergency treatment each year but only 5% of Australian pets have insurance.

Most insurance companies will cover up to 70-80% of your vet bills depending on the type of coverage you choose-basic, standard or comprehensive.

Slightly different to human health insurance, the way pet insurance companies work is that you pay the vet directly and then claim back the amount from the company you are insured with.

Basic covers accidental injury and may cost around $16/month, Standard takes care of accidental injury and illness and Comprehensive covers accidental injury, illness and routine care and costs around $40 /month.

Most policies have no waiting period for accidental injury but they usually have a 30 day waiting period for illness.

There are many companies that provide this service. When comparing companies it is important to do some research, things to consider include:

• How long has the company been in business and who underwrites the policy?
• Does the policy guarantee lifetime renewal?
• Does the policy stop cover once the pet reaches a certain age or does cover decrease as the pet ages?
• Does the policy place new exclusions or restrictions on cover at the time of renewal?
• Does the policy have an age limit for joining?
• Does the policy cover for hereditary and congenital conditions or are there Breed specific exclusions?
• Does the policy have a limits per claim (eg tick paralysis, cruciate, dental work) as well as yearly limits?
• Will they cover pre-existing conditions and what is the waiting period?

Some of the companies (in alphabetical order) include
• 1300insurance
• Bow Wow Meow
• Guardian Insurance
• Guide Dogs Australia
HCF Pet Insurance
• Insuranceline
• Medibank Pet Insurance
• Pet Insurance Australia
• Petplan
• Petsecure
• Prime Pet Insurance
• Real Pet Insurance
• Woolworths Pet Insurance
• Medibank

Many general insurance companies also provide pet insurance so it is worth checking with the company you have other policies with to see if they also cover pets. Be aware though a claim on your pet may result in you losing your house “no-claim bonus”.

As with any insurance, it is important to read the product disclosure statements carefully( i.e. read the fine print) and choose the one that suits you- remember you get what you pay for.