Is pet insurance worthwhile? Will it cover you when you need it, or end up being an expensive waste of time. We look at what pet insurance covers and whether it is going to save you money.
Pet insurance aims to cover you should something happen to your pet and you don’t necessarily have the ready cash to help them. For the most part pet insurance covers your pet for medical emergencies, accidental injury and those unexpected diseases. Some policies cover preventative care such as routine vaccination and parasites prevention, but for the most part you will need to budget for these separately.
Things you need to know:
Most companies will cover 80% of the total claim.
Many will have an excess, this can vary from $0 up to $500.
Excesses may be per claim for a condition or per calendar year.
Most vets will require you to pay up front for your pets treatment, then claim on the insurance, so you will still need to be able to initially cover the costs (unless you can make an arrangement with your vet).
Many policies will have breed exclusions such as for hip problems in breeds prone to hip dysplasia or heart disease in certain breeds. Check the fine print.
If your pet has previously been treated for a condition, even if it wasn’t claimed for on your insurance, it may be considered a pre-existing condition.
Many pets over 8 years of age may be uninsurable or incredibly expensive to insure.
There are usually discounts if you have other insurance policies with the insurer.
It is usually cheaper for your additional pets.
Some polices help with legal costs should your pet injure a 3rd party (such as a human or animal via road trauma or bite injury).
If your pet is lost or stolen some insurance policies can offer a reward to the finder
If you are hospitalised pet insurance may cover the boarding costs.
Why Get Pet Insurance
Pet insurance is an additional cost and something you will need to organise while your pet is still young. The older your pet, the more pre-existing conditions they may develop and most companies will not ensure pets over 8 years of age. You may end up spending $200-$500 per year for a policy you never claim on, particularly with a young and healthy animal. However, young healthy animals are just as likely to get diseases such as a stomach upset from eating something nasty off the ground (yes, Labradors of the world, we are looking at you!), or break a toe chasing that ball. These are the things that you as a pet owner can’t prevent and can’t necessarily predict.
Should I insure or just save the money?
One option is just to put $200 away per year for your pet into a savings account so you can accrue the interest, but also know you have the money should something happen. The only problem is if your young puppy goes and gets hit by a car 7 days after you buy him, then you may be $5000 out of pocket, with no savings. On the other hand, if you have a line of credit, there is little difference between paying up front for this, compared to paying an insurance company. We just hope it only happens once!