Pet insurance no walk in the park
Consider exclusions and restrictions before signing up
CHOICE says pet insurance can be a worthwhile investment for some pet owners, especially those who spend up big on their pets or who have accident prone animals.*
CHOICE’s comparison of pet insurance premiums shows that cats can cost $200 per year for accident insurance or an average $400 per year for accident and illness. For most dog breeds, the average premium for accident and illness is $570 per year.
“Some vet bills have risen over 500% in the last two years, partly due to advances in technology or increased treatment options. The highest recorded claim we found for an ear infection was $8,780 and $11,035 for snakebite,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just. **
CHOICE says it is important to look closely at pet insurance restrictions and exclusions. Despite new player Woolworths entering the market, it can be hard for to switch insurers and still get a good deal.
“Once your pet turns nine, no new insurer will provide cover for illness. Before age nine, any previous illness becomes excluded as a pre-existing condition unless you have it waived by a vet,” says Ms Just.
“Breeds like bulldogs are also considered more ‘high risk’ and will cost more to insure.”
CHOICE says pet owners who are able to budget for veterinary expenses, or who own low risk pets, may not consider insurance necessary.
“Overall, pet insurance can provide value but if it doesn’t suit your budget, consider putting money aside in a special account to save for the bigger bills. The most important thing is to have a financial plan to cover your expenses,” says Ms Just.
CHOICE’s tips for people thinking about taking out pet insurance:
Take your pet for a checkup before taking out insurance. This proves your pet has a clean bill of health before you sign up for insurance, thereby avoiding complications if you make a claim.
Pet insurance will not cover your pet for illnesses that can be avoided by vaccination, so you will need to have these up to date.
If you have more than one pet, find a provider giving a good discount for additional animals.
Most providers require you to make a co-payment on any claims. The lower your co-payment, the better the value in many cases.
Read CHOICE's report on pet insurance.
* Australians spend 6 billion dollars per year on pet care (figures supplied by the Australian Companion Animal Council).
** Figures include medicines, vet fees and other associated expenses.
Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669