Why pet insurance is always a good idea

Vet - dog

When bringing a new pet home, providing health care for your pet is just one of the expenses you need to be prepared for, just like food, toys and bedding. If your pet has an accident or develops a serious illness, you might need to find funds in a hurry in order for them to get the medical attention they require. This is where having pet insurance comes in handy and the Australian Veterinary Association strongly recommends pet insurance. Pet insurance can help provide some peace of mind that you’ll be in a better position to afford all the veterinary care your pet may need when unexpected or ongoing veterinary costs suddenly arise.

We don’t recommend any specific scheme, as all policies are different and each owner will have different expectations and requirements of what the pet insurance will provide. When choosing a policy, examine the details of each policy closely to see whether it meets your needs, or ask a qualified insurance advisor about what will suit you and your pet best.

What are the benefits of taking out pet insurance?

The main benefit of pet insurance is to provide cover for veterinary fees if your pet is in an accident or becomes ill. Depending on the level of cover, the amount and what you can claim for will vary.

In recent years there have been significant advancements in veterinary treatment options now available for your pet if they were to become unwell. These include advanced diagnostics such as CT scans and MRIs and complex case management and intensive treatment through specialty and emergency clinics. At times you may feel that veterinary fees are costly compared to the same costs within the human health care industry, however, this occurs due to the fact the human health care in Australia is heavily subsidised by government which unfortunately is not the case in the veterinary industry. Pet insurance is there to allow more animals access to these more advanced and specialised care options, which without insurance may have been cost prohibitive. It also helps to cover treatment provided by your local veterinarian. In emergency situations or if your pet develops a medical issue which requires long term medication, costs can easily reach into the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.

It is best to insure your animal when they are young, preferably at the time of adoption or first veterinary consultation, as this often means they don’t have pre-existing conditions that cannot be claimed for during the term of their policy. Insurance is generally more expensive as your pet gets older. 

What types of pet insurance policies are available?

The cover provided by different products can vary considerably, ranging from accident-only policies to lifetime full cover policies that may also include routine care such as vaccinations and dental care. You should choose the type of product and the level of cover to meet your needs.

More information regarding different levels of cover and what they do / don’t include can be found from any of the multitude of pet insurance companies available in Australia. Discussing this further with your insurer of choice will ensure you are aware of what is and isn’t included in your policy prior to taking out the policy.

What is not covered?

All policies will have some exclusions, the most common being pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions are health problems that your pet had prior to commencing your insurance policy. This is why insuring your pet as young as possible will decrease the chance of any pre-existing conditions being present. If you decide to change insurers when your animal is older and have made claims with their previous insurer, any future claims with the new insurer that are relating to the same issue are likely to be considered as pre-existing conditions and would not be covered. The age of your pet is also a limiting factor with some insurance policies not able to cover your pet for the first time if they are above a specified age.

Insurance policies will generally not cover for diseases that are preventable with vaccinations. This is why it is essential that you keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date. More information on vaccination can be found here.

Any veterinary costs associated with pregnancy and breeding are generally not covered. As well as costs associated with feeding and the general care of your pets such as grooming. 

It is also important to note that most policies have medical exclusion waiting periods from the start of a policy, which range from 10 to 30 days.