Welcome! You’re here because you want to protect your pet if they get injured or fall ill.
Thankfully, pet insurance can help to cover a percentage of your vet bills when your pet requires medical attention – which could save you a lot of money! So, if you want pet insurance but you’re unsure how to pick a policy, don’t worry – this page is for you.
In four simple steps, we’ll cover what’s involved in choosing pet insurance, and how to select the level of cover for your pet’s needs and your budget.
Understanding the levels of pet insurance
There are three levels of cover available for Australian pet owners:
- basic. The cheapest policy available typically covers accidents only; however, some insurers may also offer limited illness cover at this level. With this policy you’ll typically receive up to 60% back on vet bills;
- standard. A policy that covers accidents and illness. The percentage back on vet bills can range from 60-80%; and
- comprehensive. The highest level of cover usually insures accidents and most illnesses that could affect your pet. With this policy you’ll typically receive up to 85% back on vet bills. Plus, optional extras may be available.
N.B. Please check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for more information on what’s covered and excluded from your policy.
1. Check if your pet meets the ‘age’ eligibility requirements
You can cover most pets with an insurance policy once they’re eight weeks or older. Here are two reasons why getting your pet covered at an early age is good practice:
- you may not have to sit through waiting periods later and you can claim on crucial treatment as needed; and
- some insurers won’t cover your pet with an illness policy if they’re nine years or older.* However, you can typically take out accident cover no matter the age of your pet.
N.B. Your cover is assessed every year. As your pet gets older, they may become more expensive to insure – this would be reflected in your premiums.
* This age limit will vary, depending on your insurer.
2. What to look for in pet insurance? Consider policy variables
Insurance can help cover costs if your pet gets injured or falls ill. However, you should consider the following when choosing a policy:
- level of cover. With most comprehensive cover, you can also add optional extras such as dental and emergency boarding. Basic and standard cover typically have more limited cover;
- benefit rate. Depending on your level of cover, you may be reimbursed between 60-85% of your vet bill;
- excess or co-payments. if you claim, you may have to pay an excess or co-payment; consider this when choosing a policy. A higher excess often means lower premiums and vice versa;
- benefit caps. Your policy has a general limit on the value of claims you can lodge per year. Once you’ve hit this limit, you can’t claim any further that year. Check what the annual limit is on benefits that your insurer will pay;
- sub-limits. You also may have sub-limits on certain types of claims. For example, you may be limited for cruciate ligament claims to a fixed dollar value over the life of the policy;
- exclusions. An exclusion is a treatment you’re unable to claim for. For example, your policy may not cover dental treatment or elective treatments, but a more comprehensive policy might;
- waiting periods. A waiting period is an amount of time you must wait between signing up and claiming. Check the policy PDS to check specific waiting periods for different types of treatments;
- pre-existing conditions. All policies will generally exclude pre-existing conditions – so it’s wise to get your pet covered early.
3. Understand how much is paid per claim when choosing pet insurance
There’s a good reason for you to watch out for any excess or out of pocket expenses. Let us explain:
- Excess. The sum you must pay each time you claim on your pet insurance policy. Pet insurance policies with higher excesses may have cheaper premiums. On the other hand, cover with lower or $0 excesses may have more expensive premiums.
- Out-of-pocket expenses. The cash difference between what your pet insurance policy will cover and what the treatment costs. For example, your vet may charge $120 for treatment, and your policy may cover 80% of this – leaving you to pay $24. Sub-limits may also affect the amount of out-of-pocket expenses you need to pay.
4. Review your policy cover and cost
When you’ve got a few quotes and you’re deciding which one to choose, meditate on the following questions:
- Have you checked the policy exclusions? Are you comfortable with them?
- Do you have an idea about how much money you’ll get back if you claim on certain treatments?
- Are you comfortable with the features and limits of the policy in relation to the overall premium?
- If you’re comparing comprehensive cover, do you want to add on optional extras like dental?
- Does the insurer offer a discount for multiple policies if you have more than one pet?
Should I review my pet insurance policy annually?
We typically recommend Australians to shop around regularly to ensure they continue to enjoy the best value insurance possible.
However, this presents a problem when it comes to pet insurance, as you can’t insure older pets with an illness policy. You may be able to switch to a new accident and illness policy, but only if:
- there hasn’t been a break in cover; or
- the level of cover hasn’t changed during the switch.
If you change cover, your new insurer will treat any of your pet’s ailments as pre-existing conditions. Your new insurer will generally not recognise any period of cover you held previously with other policies.
As for accident only cover, age doesn’t affect your ability to insure your pet – so you can shop around as much as you like.
How to choose pet insurance? Compare!
Do you want to compare dog or cat insurance? Here’s the process when using our free online comparison service.
First, you’re prompted to enter your pets’ details and basic information. Then, we’ll generate multiple quotes that you can evaluate in a convenient side-by-side view – so there’s no need to visit numerous websites.
If you find a policy you like, we’ll even take care of the paperwork, keeping the process as simple as possible.
So why not see what we have to offer today?