Everyone who has a pet agrees that the furry and four-legged creature is a very important part of their life. Most of us even welcome them into our homes to ensure they are included in everything the family does, and they are simply part of the family.
Pets provide unconditional love, and in return we promise to provide for their health and welfare needs throughout their life.
Modern veterinary care is truly wonderful, it can provide medications, treatments and cures for our pets illnesses that weren’t possible even for people 20 years ago. Unfortunately the cost of advanced medications and treatments can be expensive, just as it is in human health. For pet owners, though, there is no PBS or Medicare to act as a safety net and so pet owners can be left in a difficult situation where they cannot provide the level of care they would like to because the family budget just can’t stretch that far. Having to choose second or third best for their pet is often very distressing for owners, but it is avoidable.
Typical Pet Insurance policies will pay about 80% of your Accident and Illness Veterinary care bills. As a simple example:
Someone doesn’t latch your front gate properly and “Toby” gets out of your yard. He runs across the road and gets clipped by a car at 10 pm. He has a broken leg, a jaw fracture, is bleeding and is in shock.
Typical costs would include an after hours consultation, 5 days hospitalisation, IV fluids for shock, X-rays of his leg and jaw, antibiotics and medication for pain, and surgery to fix the broken leg and jaw. In this example, the bill might come to $2000. With pet insurance, you will only need to cover 20% of his bill ($400) and the insurance company will reimburse you 80% or $1600.
For many families a $2000 vet bill can be prohibitive and prevent treatment, perhaps necessitating euthanasia. On the other hand, a $400 bill will fit into most families budgets, and it means Toby can come home and resume a normal life with the family after such a terrible accident.
A common misconception is that pet insurance must be very expensive or exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a guide, Accident and Illness Health Insurance for your dog will cost between $300-450 per year depending on your dogs age, breed, and any excess you choose. Cat Insurance tends to be a little cheaper – around $250 per year.
We strongly recommend combined Accident and Illness cover as Accident cover alone can be quite restrictive and owners are often frustrated by having pet insurance that doesn’t help when their pet becomes unwell. If combined cover is difficult to fit into the budget, it may be best to consider a combined policy with a higher excess as the premiums will be similar, but you will still have full cover.
There are some restrictions in place for pets with pre-existing health conditions, and the simplest solution to this is to insure your pet from puppy or kitten, and then maintain the insurance throughout their life. Pets older than 7 years of age often have difficulty getting any insurance other than accident cover due to pre-existing illness exclusions. Guaranteed lifetime cover is important as it means your pet will always have cover as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
There are some other common exclusions and fine print details that we think you should also be aware of:
There is a waiting period for Cruciate Ligament Disease cover (usually 6 months). This is a common knee injury in dogs, some insurance companies will waive this waiting period if a Knee examination is done by us to confirm that the knees are ok. The paperwork just needs to be filled out and returned to them – we strongly recommend that you do this.
Dentistry is rarely covered – Claims for dental trauma such as a broken jaw are covered as an accident, and a broken tooth from chewing on something too hard is also generally covered but you need to check this.
Preventative Dental care such as a scale and polish or treatment for periodontal disease (plaque,tartar, pus around teeth and gum disease) is not covered as it is preventable with good dental care.
Insurance Policies do not cover:
- Elective procedures
- Breeding and reproductive services
Also be aware that some breeds are uninsurable for illness- they have been bred with so many congenital problems and health risks that the insurance companies won’t cover them. Accident cover is generally still available though.
With any product such as this, it is best to do some research and seek out the best option for your situation. There are many different providers available, but we have provided some links to the insurers recommended by Choice magazine as their preferred policies.
Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance
Medibank Private Pet Insurance
Pet Insurance Australia
As a word of advice, if you have a large breed dog…. Insure it. simply due to their size the costs for many procedures can be close to double what it would be for a 25-30 kg dog. If you have and love a Great Dane, Neo Mastiff, Wolfhound or anything of this size and scale, Insurance is really just be part of owning one of these breeds – lets be honest you spend more on their food each year than you will on their insurance!
One final thing, please don’t ask us to backdate, amend or alter your pets medical records to facilitate a claim. We can understand that it can make a significant financial difference to you, but your pets records are a legal document and we simply can’t and won’t risk our licence to practice by doing so. If you insure your pet as a puppy or Kitten and continue their cover through life, you’ll never have any problems with pre existing illness or other technicalities either.