If your fur-baby gets unexpectedly sick or injured, providing the best treatment can be expensive, not to mention stressful. Pet insurance can help relieve the financial pressure of unexpected vet bills and provide peace of mind when things don’t go according to plan.
What does it cover?
Many policies pay up to 80% of the eligible vet bills to a value of $10,000 or more each year, meaning if you have an eligible vet bill of $1,000, your insurer would cover $800, and you pay the remaining $200 along with any nominated excess (if applicable to the policy). Premiums can be paid fortnightly, monthly or annually, with the cost going up each year as your pet gets older and has more health risks and needs.
Unless you opt for a pet insurance policy that includes some level of routine or preventative care, most policies typically won’t cover every day pet expenses that are easier to budget for, such as flea and tick treatments and vaccinations, as this helps to keep the cost of premiums down. As a general rule, pet insurance also doesn’t cover pet health issues that already existed before insurance is first taken out (known as pre-existing conditions), or any conditions that develop during the initial policy waiting period/s.
For more on pet insurance, see our most frequently asked questions
Home and contents insurance – pet cover
Some home and contents insurance policies offer pet care cover, which provides a limited level of cover towards pet-care expenses (generally around $500-$750 per year).
What does it cover?
These products will typically provide cover for accidental injury to your pet up to a nominated annual or per-condition limit, that’s usually much lower than a stand-alone pet insurance product. Pre-existing conditions, chronic illness conditions, preventative and routine care and are also commonly excluded.
A wellness plan is a monthly or annual subscription-based service offered by some vets and pets stores to provide a range of preventive pet care services at a discount or free of charge. These might include free vet consultations, discounted pet food, flea and tick treatments, free vaccinations and a small discount on professional vet services.
What does it cover?
Not to be confused with pet insurance, wellness plans are
designed more for expected pet care expenses, and typically will only
contribute ~10% towards the cost of diagnostic procedures, hospitalisation and
surgery, even though the cost of these services could amount to thousands of
Pet insurance helps with the cost of eligible vet treatments for unexpected accidents and illness, such as cancer, broken bones and eating socks (depending on the selected policy).
Wellness plans help with the costs of expected, regular pet care expenses, such as vaccinations, vet consults and discounted pet care products such as food and parasite control.
A savings plan can be a good addition or alternative to pet insurance and wellness plans, if you already have a large amount saved, are diligent with regular savings payments, and are willing to draw on funds as needed to cover large and unexpected pet costs.
Good to know
However, the challenge lies in the unpredictability of not knowing when your pet might meet with an accident or serious illness, and whether you’ll have saved up enough to cover the cost when it happens.
For example, if you are saving $100 a month and your pet has an accident resulting in a $10,000 vet bill, you’d have to have been saving for just over eight years just to cover that single treatment.
Ongoing treatment can also eat very quickly into savings, which could leave you with large out of pocket expenses to cover.
Borrowing funds via credit or ‘buy now, pay later’ companies can also help to cover pet-care expenses in the short-term, however the related interest rates, charges and other fees can often make them a more expensive option in the long term. Borrowing limits, interest rates and repayment conditions vary from product-to-product, so research is always a good idea to ensure the terms fall within your budget expectations, both now and in the future.
Pet Care in action
Let’s have a look at some specific scenarios to see how Pet Insurance and Wellness Plans compare. Please note that all examples refer to a single incident, so additional benefits provided over the life of the Insurance Policy or Wellness Plan may not be taken into account.
Snake bite case study
Veterinary costs – $11,500
# The case study scenarios above are for illustrative purposes only and are not representative of all Pet Insurance policies and Wellness Plans available on the Australian market.
Puppy check-up case study
Veterinary costs – $155
#The case study scenarios above are for illustrative purposes only and are not representative of all Pet Insurance policies and Wellness Plans available in the Australian market. Please note that Pet Insurance policies may not cover consultation fees and may be subject to limits and additional exclusions.
Skin allergy case study
Veterinary costs – $420
#The case study scenarios above are for illustrative purposes only and are not representative of all Pet Insurance policies and Wellness Plans available in the Australian market. Please note that Pet Insurance policies may not cover consultation fess and may be subject to excesses, limits and additional exclusions.
Lymphoma (a common cancer) case study
Veterinary costs – $4,800
# The case study scenarios above are for illustrative purposes only and are not representative of all Pet Insurance policies and Wellness Plans available in the Australian market. Please note that Pet Insurance policies may not cover consultation fess and may be subject to limits and additional exclusions.