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Top 5 things to know about pet insurance

Cover for dogs and cats of all ages

From as young as six weeks to nine years.

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Cover the unexpected and preventative care

Including specified accidental injuries and illnesses, plus routine care as an optional extra.

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Protect your pet for life

Take out pet insurance before your pet turns nine and maintain continuous cover with no break.

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Cover some or all expenses

Pet insurance can cover 70-90% of your eligible vet bills – up to an annual limit.

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Premiums can be reduced

Increasing your excess can reduce premiums and save you money.

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Pet Insurance

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A guide to pet insurance

Last updated 14/06/2023

Written by Megan Birot

Reviewed by Adrian Taylor

Expert tips for finding the right pet insurance for you

Our resident pet insurance expert, Adrian Taylor, has helpful tips for pet owners looking for a new pet insurance policy or those switching their cover.

Insure your pet early

Get insurance for your furry friend while they’re young, at least within the first year, and before they develop any health issues or pre-existing conditions excluded from cover. Most common dog health problems and cat health problems can be insured if you take out cover before symptoms appear.

Increase your excess to reduce your premiums

You can get cheaper pet insurance by choosing a higher policy excess. This is the amount you have to pay if you make a claim. Be aware that if you increase your excess, you’ll pay more if you need to claim.

Review your policy terms and inclusions

Avoid nasty surprises and unexpected costs by checking exactly what you’re covered for. Look at what percentage of your vet bills your policy will cover, how your claims will be paid, what your annual limit is, and when it resets.

Find out more about pet insurance

Think of pet insurance as a financial safety net that can help pay for some expensive vet bills if your pet needs care.

Accident and illness cover can help pay for a portion of the treatment costs for specified illnesses like cancer and accidental injuries.

Choosing the right pet insurance for you

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance can cover some of your vet costs if your pet is sick, injured in an accident, or needs emergency care. Cover options typically include:

Pet insurance exclusions

Common pet insurance exclusions include diseases with a known vaccine, routine care like vaccinations and worming (unless added as an optional cover), dental treatment, pregnancy and obstetrics, artificial limbs, etc. Insurers will typically exclude conditions and procedures deemed too risky to cover.

How does pet insurance work?

Pet insurance requires you to pay a premium (usually monthly) to keep your cover and get reimbursed for a portion of your pet’s vet costs if they get sick or hurt. When it comes time to use your cover, you’ll generally have to pay the vet’s invoice upfront and lodge your pet insurance claim with your insurer after for reimbursement.

Benefit percentage

Most pet insurance policies have a benefit percentage – the portion of the vet bill your insurer will pay – typically ranging between 70% and 90%, although it could be more or less depending on the policy and insurer. In most cases, you’ll need to pay vet costs upfront and then claim back your percentage with your insurer. A policy excess will be payable at claims time.

Benefit limits and sub-limits

Most pet insurance products also have annual benefit limits (the maximum your insurer will reimburse you for claims each year) and sub-limits on certain conditions. For example, your policy may have an annual benefit limit of $10,000 but a $500 sub-limit for tick paralysis treatment. Comprehensive pet insurance offers higher benefit limits and extra features like routine care coverage, making it more expensive. Choosing a lower annual limit can save on pet insurance costs.

Policy excess

You’ll need to pay an excess each time you claim on your pet insurance policy. Some insurance providers will apply the policy excess before the benefit percentage is applied, while others will apply the excess after. Read your policy terms and conditions for more information.

Are there waiting periods for pet insurance?

Most pet insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period for illnesses and some injuries. Cruciate ligament conditions for both dogs and cats typically have waiting periods of up to six months. Some accidental injuries have no waiting periods.

Is there pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions?

Most pet insurance policies will not cover your pet’s pre-existing medical conditions, particularly pre-existing chronic conditions. That’s why you should insure your pet as early as possible before they develop health issues that will be treated as pre-existing conditions and excluded from cover.

A pre-existing condition is an illness or ailment diagnosed before the commencement of your first policy period or during your applicable waiting period. Health conditions developed after that should be covered as specified in your PDS.

Are there age limits for pet insurance?

New pet insurance policies are available for pets before they turn nine. Age limits apply if you switch cover or buy a new policy unless your pet is already insured and you keep paying your premiums. This means most insurers can cover your pet for life, provided there’s no break in cover. Senior pets may be eligible for basic accidental-only cover.

How are pet insurance premiums calculated?

There are several factors that can influence the premiums you pay for pet insurance. These include the following (but are not limited to):

Premiums vary between providers and depending on whether you’re taking out a new policy or renewing the level of coverage you already have. Compare your policy options to ensure you’re happy with the cost of pet insurance.

Will my pet insurance let me choose which vet treats my pet?

Yes, you can choose your treating vet if you hold a pet insurance policy – provided they’re registered in Australia. It’s important to note that vets can set their own fees for surgeries and procedures, so you may be able to save even more money by choosing your vet wisely.

Is pet insurance compulsory?

Pet insurance isn’t compulsory in Australia but is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Think of pet insurance as a financial safety net that can help pay for some expensive vet bills if your pet needs care. Some veterinary treatments can cost thousands of dollars, so consider taking out cover for your dog or cat as soon as possible for peace of mind.

Why compare pet insurance?

Pets aren’t usually cheap, and neither are vet bills. That’s why choosing the right pet insurance and knowing what you’re covered for is vital. That’s where we can help.

Comparing pet insurance with Compare the Market can save you time and stress. We make it easy to weigh up policies by quote, coverage, exclusions and more. So, why not see what we have to offer and compare today?

Meet our pet insurance expert, Adrian Taylor

As our expert on pet insurance, Adrian Taylor knows that dogs and cats get themselves into all sorts of mischief. One part of Adrian’s work is to help empower consumers to understand how pet insurance can help save them from expensive vet bills when their dog or cat gets injured or falls ill.

As the General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market, Adrian Taylor has over 13 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Adrian specialises in customer experience and is dedicated to helping customers better understand insurance products so they can save money on their household bills.

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