We want to keep our beloved pets healthy for as long as possible, but the risk of them needing veterinary care often increases as they grow older.
While pet insurance can help cover some of the costs associated with treatments for ageing cats and dogs, you may have limited cover options or encounter policy restrictions when taking out a new pet insurance policy for a senior pet.
Read on to learn more about the types of insurance available for senior dogs and cats and the level of cover these policies may offer.
Can I purchase pet insurance for senior dogs?
There isn’t a product specifically called ‘senior pet insurance’, so remember this when looking for a policy. You’ll generally be able to take out pet insurance for older dogs aged nine and over, but you’ll likely be restricted to basic policies that only cover accidental injuries or offer limited coverage for specified illnesses.
Basic policies for older pets have a lower benefit percentage (or reimbursement rate) than higher-tiered options, so you’ll usually still be required to pay a larger portion of eligible vet bills. For example, you may only be able to claim up to 60% back for eligible treatments, meaning you’d have to foot the remaining 40% of the bill.
Remember that pet insurance policies also have annual benefit limits and sub-limits on certain veterinary expenses. For instance, there might be an annual benefit limit of $10,000 but a $500 sub-limit for tick paralysis treatment. Keep in mind also that pre-existing conditions and age-related conditions like arthritis, cruciate ligament rupture and cancer will not be covered.
If your pet is ill and you have an accident-only policy, you’ll need to pay for the entirety of the vet expenses relating to your pet’s illness.
Can I purchase pet insurance for senior cats?
Pet insurance for older or senior cats works very much the same way as for dogs. Though, in most cases, you’ll be able to take out a basic level of cover for cats aged nine and over. Depending on the insurer, these policies may cover accidents only or accidents and some illnesses.
Is comprehensive or standard insurance available for older pets?
Comprehensive insurance is usually available for pets before they turn nine. If you take out a suitable policy while your pooch or kitty is young, they can be protected for life – if you maintain continuous cover past this age.
Suppose you take out this high level of cover before the relevant age threshold, and you hold this level of cover continuously, then your pet can remain covered under the same policy. This will ensure your pet can be covered for more than just accidents and limited illnesses.
You can purchase accident and illness cover for your pet cat or dog from six weeks old, so if it’s something you think you’ll need for your pet down the line, consider purchasing sooner rather than later. You should at least take out cover within the first year of your puppy or kitten’s life.
Does pet insurance for older cats and dogs cover pre-existing medical conditions?
Insurance providers deal with pre-existing medical conditions differently, but in most cases, they won’t be covered by a policy if:
- You believe your pet has a health condition – regardless of whether a vet has diagnosed them or not.
- Your pet has been showing signs or symptoms of a condition before taking out a policy or during your policy’s mandated waiting period.
The above applies to all levels of cover, so it’s recommended to take out pet cover when your pet is young and before they experience health problems – especially if their breed is known to have hereditary issues.
Example. Cindy has a four-year-old pug named Peggy – a breed of dog known to develop breathing problems. Peggy has been fit and healthy and has shown no signs of breathing difficulty, but Cindy decides to take out comprehensive insurance to protect Peggy down the line. Doing so helps make sure that Peggy will be protected with the right level of cover if she develops a condition.
If Cindy waited until Peggy started developing respiratory issues to purchase pet insurance, it would be considered a pre-existing condition and likely wouldn’t be covered.
All insurance companies treat temporary and permanent pre-existing conditions differently. For a temporary condition that won’t affect your pet for the rest of their life, providers may temporarily add it as an exclusion to your policy.
For the full terms and conditions on how your insurer treats pre-existing issues in senior pets, it’s best to read the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or Target Market Determination (TMD).
Will insurance premiums for mature pets be more expensive?
While the age of your cat or dog can increase the premium you pay for pet insurance, it’s not the only factor that impacts the cost of a policy. This is why two animals of the same species and age can attract different premiums from separate providers.
Other factors taken into consideration include:
- Your pet insurance claims history
- The breed and species of the animal
- Where you reside
- The gender of the cat or dog
- If the pet has been vaccinated and de-sexed.
Pet insurance companies assess eligibility criteria differently. Read more about how pet insurance premiums are calculated.
Why is it harder to find comprehensive pet insurance for senior animals?
Unfortunately, just like humans, pets tend to experience more health issues in their later years. So, insurers wouldn’t be able to pay claims if every pet owner only took out pet insurance when their animal was old or started experiencing health problems.
Since pet insurance isn’t community-rated like health insurance for people, providers can limit and restrict the age of pets they offer coverage for when you take out a new policy.
The best way to get around this is to purchase a policy when your pet is young and healthy, so there’s cover in place if they become ill or injured in later life.
Compare pet insurance with us
Pet insurance can provide you with peace of mind if the worst was to happen to your pet, but it can be overwhelming to know which policy you should consider.
Whether you’ve got a dog getting on in years or just purchased a kitten, we can help you find a pet insurance quote.
Our pet insurance comparison tool allows you to assess a variety of policies from our panel of providers and underwriters, so you can compare costs, features and more.
Within minutes, you’ll have a range of options to choose from. The best part is this service is free to use, always.