Here at My Vet Animal Hospital – Waterloo, the majority of our furbabies are insured, which is what we encourage all paw-parents to do. While some paw-parents think it’s a complete waste of money, others say that they wouldn’t know what they would have done without them!
We all know that veterinary fees can be quite costly, especially since we do not have Medicare for pets. The average annual cost for veterinary services is around $450 just for basic routine health care in Australia. If your pet gets sick and needs an emergency surgery (e.g., if your furbaby is hit by a car and breaks his/her leg), the cost can be anywhere from $2500 upwards depending on his/her injuries. With veterinary treatments being more advanced than ever, the average pet insurance claim in Australia lies between $200-$2,600 with some accidents and emergencies being claimed for over $25,000!
Who offers pet insurance?
Big hint! There are only 2 companies that offers pet insurance. WHHATT?!?! Yup. No joke.
Lloyd’s of London owns: PetPlan (used to be Allianz)
What does pet insurance cover?
Well, that depends on what type of cover you go for. Usually, it is divided into 3 tiers: Basic, Standard and Top. Every company has offers different coverage, so, it is very important to go through each tier to see which one suits you best. It’s pretty much like shopping for car insurance.
Remember that every pet insurance company has their own definition for things like Routine Care, Ear Conditions, and Skin Conditions.
This is an example of the different tiers of cover. Please check with the insurer for each of the treatment and services definition eg Skin condition – what do they cover?
To be honest, I am not too impressed with pet insurance companies that have a caps on certain conditions. For example, Medibank has a sub-limit on consultation fees of $300/year. If the average consultation fee is $85 and your pet needs to be referred to a specialist (consultation fee: $250), you would easily hit your sub-limit for the year. That means, if your pet gets sick and needs to see a vet again in the same year for another condition, you will not be covered.
Furthermore, many of the Hollard companies have a sub-limit for cruciate ligament conditions – capped at $2,600. If your pet needs a knee surgery performed by an orthopedic surgeon, it will most likely cost you more than $2,600 per knee as there are a lot of treatments and medications that are needed. For example, x-rays will need to be performed before and after the surgery. Your pet will need to be on medications like pain killers and anti-inflammatories for a few weeks too. Don’t forget a few trips to the physiotherapist is also usually recommended.
Petplan appears to have a different take on pet insurance compared to other companies underwritten by Hollard.
Petplan Australia appears to be the only pet insurance company that does not apply specific sub-limit on certain conditions. They also cover things like third-party liability insurance. If your pet runs across the road and causes an accident, they will cover for the damages that your pet has caused.
What should I be wary of?
Always read the fine print and some pet insurance companies will have certain exclusions for example, specific breed exclusions. This means, certain breed of dogs are not covered for certain conditions. Here are a few things that you should be aware of when selecting pet insurance for your pet:
- Congenital conditions aka a condition that they are born with
- Inherited conditions
- Breed and age exclusions eg some flat-nosed dogs are not eligible for any corrective surgeries for their breathing issues
- Pre-existing conditions
- Is routine care included? e.g. dental procedures, vaccinations
- Is there a waiting period?
- What percentage of the claim is covered? Is there an excess fee? (this is the contribution you are required to pay towards a claim you make)
Unfortunately, optical is not covered by any pet insurance companies! Hehe.
The take home message is: get pet insurance while your furbaby is young and before any illnesses or accidents occur! Keep in mind that if anything is detected before the waiting period is over, the condition will be considered a pre-existing condition! This means, that if your dog develops a rash during the waiting period, their skin and ears will never be covered for the rest of their life!
Remember, if you have any questions or concerns, please give the pet insurance companies a call to discuss further.