GUIDES & RESOURCES

What is pet insurance?

According to Animal Medicines Australia1, more than 60% of Australians live with a pet.
Pet Insurance
*iSelect's partnered with Choosi Pty Ltd to compare a range of pet insurers and policies. Not all policies are available at all times or in all areas.  Our advice on this website is general in nature and does not consider your situation or needs. Consider if any advice is appropriate for you before acting on it. Learn more.

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Cats and dogs are great companions, and you may even think of them as part of your family, but the costs of pet ownership can quickly add up.

This is where pet insurance can help.

Pet insurance is designed to help cover unexpected veterinary expenses when your cat or dog gets sick or injured.

Plans may help cover a significant part of eligible vet bills – with some covering up to 80% of the costs (or more). Though the precise amount can vary between providers and your chosen level of cover.

Just keep in mind that some insurers may require you to pay the vet bill up-front. This means you may have to pay the bill first, then receive reimbursement after you make your claim.

What are the benefits of having pet insurance?

No matter how well you care for your pet, there’s always a chance that they could break a leg, get sick or eat something they shouldn’t.

If your cat or dog ends up in hospital for a few days, the vet bills can potentially escalate. Unless you have savings available to cover the costs, it can be difficult to help your pet return to good health.

What does pet insurance typically cover?

Pet insurance policies tend to vary in levels of cover and could include cover for scenarios including specified accidental injury, illnesses and associated medical procedures. Depending on the policy, specified accidental physical injuries could include injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, broken bones, burns or even snake bites. Specified illnesses may include medicine and treatment for cancer, skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, tick paralysis and even more.

Your policy may also include cover for hospitalisation of your pet and after-hours services as well as emergency boarding fees if you find yourself hospitalised and unable to care for your pet. Some comprehensive policies also offer optional benefits, such as routine care cover.

However, you’ll need to consult the policy’s product disclosure (PDS) statement to find out whether it offers such cover, as the PDS document will outline all of the policy’s key features and benefits as well as any waiting periods or exclusions.

What isn’t typically covered when it comes to pet insurance?

Pet insurance policies also come with certain exclusions. These are conditions or costs that policies generally don’t provide cover for.

This may include:

  • Pre-existing conditions that your pet experienced before your policy commenced (or during the waiting period)
  • Behavioural disorders
  • Elective procedures
  • Pregnancy
  • Grooming
  • Food and diet products and services.

Further to this, some policies might not cover pets that are younger than eight weeks or older than nine years at the time that you apply. Though this may differ depending on the insurer.

How do you compare policies?

When choosing a suitable policy, there can be a lot of information to absorb. Policies can differ in terms of benefits, costs and features – and no one policy can meet every pet owner’s individual needs.

This is why it may be worthwhile to compare policies – especially when it comes to these key features: 

Premiums

  • This is what you’ll pay for the policy.
  • Charged on a regular basis (usually monthly or yearly).
  • Premiums will typically be higher for more extensive coverage.

Percentage of eligible vet bills covered

  • Your insurer will cover a portion of your eligible vet bills.
  • Generally, the higher this percentage, the more expensive the cover.

Excess

  • Only some insurers will require an excess.
  • This is the share of a claim that you’re required to pay.
  • A higher excess may result in lower premiums.

Waiting period

  • You may need to hold your pet insurance policy for a specific length of time before you can make certain claims.
  • Illness claims usually have a waiting period of 30 days or so.
  • Claims for accidental injury typically don’t have waiting periods.

Annual benefit limit

  • This is how much you can claim on your pet insurance every year.

Annual condition limit

  • Some policies also limit how much you can claim on a specific condition every year.
  • This will usually be lower than the annual benefit limit.

Other limits (Sub limits)

  • These may include limits on:
    • Vet consultations
    • Emergency boarding
    • Tick paralysis treatments
    • Cruciate ligament injuries

Optional extras

  • May include some cover for preventative care treatments, such as:
    • Desexing
    • Microchipping
    • Vaccinations
    • Obedience training
    • Teeth cleaning
  • Adding extras to your policy will usually cause a rise in the premium.

Again, the precise details of what your policy does and doesn’t cover can be found in the relevant product disclosure statement (sometimes known as the policy booklet). You should always consult this document when investigating a policy.

Where can I compare my options?

If you’re looking for a quick, easy way to compare pet insurance policies, then we can help.

At iSelect, we’ve partnered with Choosi to help you compare policies from a range of pet insurance providers, helping you to find a suitable policy. Get started by comparing online, or call us on 13 19 20 today!

Sources:1. Animal Medicines Australia, Pets and the Pandemic (2021), Page 9

Last Updated: 27/06/2022

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