We all want to ensure our pets are as safe and healthy as possible, but as they grow older, the risk of them needing veterinary care often increases.
While pet insurance can help cover some of the costs associated with these treatments for ageing cats and dogs, you may have limited options and face restrictions when it comes to the policies you can take out.
Read on to find out more about the types of insurance available for senior pets and the level of cover they may offer.
Can I purchase insurance for pets that are seniors?
You’ll generally be able to take out pet insurance for older dogs and cats, but you’ll likely be restricted to basic policies that only cover accidents or offer limited cover for illnesses. Similarly, there isn’t a product specifically called seniors pet insurance, so remember this when looking for a policy.
In most cases, you’ll be able to take out a basic level of cover for pets aged nine and over. Depending on the insurer, these policies may cover accidents only or accidents and some illnesses.
These policies have a lower reimbursement rate than higher-tiered options, so you’ll usually still be required to pay a larger portion of a vet bill. For example, you may only be able to claim up to 60% back for eligible treatments, meaning you’d still pay 40% of the bill.
If your pet is ill and you have an accident-only policy, you’ll need to pay for your vet bills in full.
Is comprehensive and standard insurance available for older pets?
If you want standard or comprehensive insurance, most providers require you to take out a policy before your pet turns nine. Your pooch or kitty can be protected for life with these policies – as long as you maintain continuous cover past this age.
If you take out this high level of cover before the relevant age threshold, hold this level of cover continuously and remain on the same policy, your pet can be covered for more than accidents only or accidents and limited illness.
You can purchase pet insurance for your animal from eight weeks old and if it’s something you think you’ll need for your pet down the line, you may want to consider purchasing it earlier rather than later.
Does pet insurance for older cats and dogs cover pre-existing medical conditions?
Each provider deals 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 it’s been diagnosed by a vet or not; or
- your pet has been showing signs or symptoms of a condition before taking out a policy or during the waiting periods.
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. By doing so, she’s ensured that Peggy will be protected with their level of cover if she develops a condition.
If Cindy waited until Peggy started developing breathing issues to purchase pet insurance, it would be considered a pre-existing condition and likely wouldn’t be covered.
Some providers also treat temporary and permanent pre-existing conditions differently. For a temporary condition that won’t affect your pet for the rest of its 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).
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 influences the cost. 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; and
- if the pet has been vaccinated and desexed.
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 cover for.
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.
Frequently asked questions
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