How Much Is Pet Insurance

Co-author: Elise Donaldson

Looking to protect yourself in the event that your beloved pooch or feline friend has to undergo expensive surgery or some other type of treatment? Canstar reveals what the average pet insurance policy can cost in 2019, according to our data.

Current pet insurance premiums

While other types of insurance like health insurance are ‘community rated’ (meaning everyone in a certain age group pays a similar fee), pet premiums are driven by a number of factors, like the breed, age, size, and hereditary conditions of your furry friend.

Our research shows that premiums for pet insurance have increased over the last few years, and according to Medibank rising premiums could be down to the dramatically rising number of pet owners in Australia. Other key drivers could include advances in animal medical treatment and surgeries, the increasing average age of pets nationwide, and the rising cost of vet bills.

When it comes to the cost of insurance, as well as the factors listed above, the type of cover you take out is also a consideration.

The table below shows average pet insurance costs broken down by the key factors.

Average annual pet insurance premiums by pet type – 2018 vs 2019

Policy type: Accident and Illness

Type of Pet Age 2018 Average Premium 2019 Average Premium % Change in Average Premiums
Cat Less than 1 year $487 $542 11.39%
2 – 3 years $494 $531 7.34%
4 – 5 years $555 $600 8.24%
6 – 7 years $645 $698 8.29%
Small Dog Less than 1 year $730 $812 11.22%
2 – 3 years $745 $806 8.21%
4 – 5 years $828 $907 9.48%
6 – 7 years $1,041 $1,149 10.36%
Medium Dog Less than 1 year $788 $879 11.55%
2 – 3 years $801 $869 8.38%
4 – 5 years $919 $998 8.53%
6 – 7 years $1,155 $1,263 9.30%
Large Dog Less than 1 year $757 $838 10.71%
2 – 3 years $777 $837 7.69%
4 – 5 years $900 $973 8.10%
6 – 7 years $1,131 $1,229 8.73%

Policy type: Accident, Illness and Routine Care

Cat Less than 1 year $649 $692 6.69%
2 – 3 years $615 $646 4.98%
4 – 5 years $672 $715 6.47%
6 – 7 years $773 $823 6.52%
Small Dog Less than 1 year $880 $946 7.49%
2 – 3 years $812 $877 8.02%
4 – 5 years $928 $1,011 8.90%
6 – 7 years $1,151 $1,268 10.20%
Medium Dog Less than 1 year $939 $1,013 7.83%
2 – 3 years $861 $932 8.27%
4 – 5 years $976 $1,061 8.70%
6 – 7 years $1,208 $1,331 10.15%
Large Dog Less than 1 year $881 $947 7.54%
2 – 3 years $811 $878 8.22%
4 – 5 years $928 $1,011 9.01%
6 – 7 years $1,147 $1,263 10.13%

Source: Canstar – 24/07/2019. Average annual premiums are national weighted averages, based on all insurance products for cat and dog breeds considered in the Canstar Pet Insurance Star Ratings for 2018 and 2019 (July). National averages displayed are weighted according to population representation for each state (based on data taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Based on the data above, you can expect to pay more on average for a cat or dog between the ages of six and seven than for those aged under one. You can also see that ‘accident, illness and routine care’ cover is on average more expensive than ‘accident & illness’ cover. This is because policies including ‘routine’ cover mean you would be protected not only from accidents and illnesses affecting your pet, but typically also procedures such as desexing, microchipping and vaccinations.

Each type of pet cover has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s worth thinking about the needs of your pet before settling on a particular type. You can compare policies with Canstar to find a high-value product for your puppy or kitten.

Pet insurance premiums by age and type of pet

Age is one of the biggest contributors to differences in premiums, as pets tend to become more prone to certain illnesses and condition as they age. However, the data shows that pet premiums are actually cheaper on average at two to three years of age than they are at under one year old, before increasing in price as pets get older.

A policy insuring a dog also appears to be on average more expensive than cat cover. Reasons for this may include the greater variety of dog breeds available and the presence of hereditary conditions common in some dog breeds. There’s also the fact that on average cats tend to live longer than dogs.

Is pet insurance worth it?

This is something that individual pet owners need to decide based on their own situation.

When surveyed by Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) as to why they don’t have pet insurance, the top responses offered by owners suggest that cost and the value it delivers are big factors:

  • Not seeing the value in pet insurance (47%)
  • Thinking pet insurance is too expensive (43%)
  • Not researching or thinking about pet insurance (18%)

That said, many Australian cat and dog owners do see the value, with an AMA report finding as a nation we spend an estimated total of $490 million per year on pet insurance, with expenditure on dog insurance almost twice that of cat insurance. And given that the most expensive pet diagnosis according to the RSPCA (an Oesophageal Perforation) has an average claim of $7,750, it’s not surprising that many pet owners choose to purchase insurance in order to avoid potentially hefty out-of-pocket expenses.

If you do decide to take out a policy, it’s a good idea to compare what’s available from the various providers to make sure you get the best deal for your circumstances. In particular, it’s important to be aware of the benefits and limitations of each policy, what everything will cost, and what you will and won’t be covered for.

Cover image source: Chendongshan (Shutterstock)

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