How much does pet insurance cost?

ALASDAIR DUNCAN
How much does pet insurance cost every year in Australia, and is it worth taking out for your cat or dog? We take a look.

It can be stressful when a beloved family pet gets sick, especially if your dog or cat has to spend time away for surgery at a vet clinic. Vet bills can be an added source of stress at this time, but pet insurance can potentially help by covering some of the cost of these.

What types of pet insurance are there?

There are three broad types of pet insurance in Australia – basic policies that cover for accidents only, policies that cover for both accident and illness, and more comprehensive ones, that cover all of these things plus a range of other routine care procedures.

Typically, an accident only policy will cover a portion of the cost of treatment if your pet is injured in an accident. An accident and illness policy will cover this as well as treatments for various illnesses and hereditary conditions.

A comprehensive policy will cover all of these things, as well as such routine care needs as microchipping, desexing, vaccinations, worming treatments, dental care and teeth cleaning, and even flea and tick control, depending on the insurer.

Prices will vary depending on the insurer you choose and the breed of animal you wish to insure, but accident only cover tends to be the most basic and therefore inexpensive kind of pet insurance, while comprehensive cover tends to be the most costly.

What does pet insurance cost?

Canstar Research crunched the numbers to find out the average cost of pet insurance in Australia, considering the cost of both accident and illness and comprehensive cover for cats as well as small, medium and large dogs. Here’s what we found:

 

Type of animal Annual cost of accident and illness
Cat $634
Small dog $1,358
Medium dog $1,250
Large dog $1,246
Source: www.canstar.com.au. Prepared on 13/07/2021. Based on products rated in the 2021 Canstar Pet Insurance Star Ratings (July 2021). Quotes obtained for a range of breeds, ages and excesses

 

Type of animal Annual cost of accident, illness and routine care
Cat $716
Small dog $1,479
Medium dog $1,375
Large dog $1,380
Source: www.canstar.com.au. Prepared on 13/07/2021. Based on products rated in the 2021 Canstar Pet Insurance Star Ratings (July 2021). Quotes obtained for a range of breeds, ages and excesses

Canstar research also found that the cost of cover can vary based on the breed of animal you are seeking to insure. For instance, in the large dog category, we found that a German Shepherd might cost $1,171 to insure annually on an accident, illness and routine care policy, but a Rottweiler German Shepherd cross could cost an average of $1,744.

It could be a wise idea, when getting a quote for pet insurance, to read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and any terms and conditions carefully.

Does pet insurance cover the total cost of vet bills?

Pet insurance will rarely cover the whole cost of a vet bill, however, depending on the type of cover you have, it may include cover from 80% to 100% of the cost, depending on the procedure and the type of pet you have.

Typically, when you apply for pet insurance, you will be asked to choose a percentage benefit limit, which is the amount you will get back when you claim on an eligible procedure – this can range from 60% up.

Similarly, pet insurance policies tend to have an annual limit, which is the maximum amount of money you can claim for your pet in each year. In some cases, this will be as high as $25,000 annually for eligible procedures.

Generally speaking, the higher the annual limit, and the higher the percentage benefit you choose, the more expensive your pet insurance policy will be. If you choose a pet insurance cover with no excess, this may also prove more expensive than if you choose one that comes with an excess payable on claims.

Is it worth getting pet insurance?

Whether you consider pet insurance to be worth it will come down to your personal circumstances, but there are a number of factors that could be worth considering. For example, if you feel that your pet might be susceptible to certain illnesses or hereditary conditions, and expect that it may need care for these, then insurance could be a way to help with future costs.

On the other hand, if you feel your pet may not be susceptible to these things, or if you simply do not feel you wish to pay the annual premiums, you may decide to forego insurance. Instead of insurance, some pet owners may decide to put money away in a savings account as an emergency fund, in the event that vet bills arise down the track.

It is also worth noting that pet insurance typically does not cover pre-existing conditions, and depending on the age of your pet, some insurers may offer accident only cover and nothing more, so this could also factor into your decision-making.

How do you compare pet insurance?

Each year, Canstar gives an Award for outstanding value in the pet insurance category, recognising the providers that offer Australians pet owners the best value for money. We also survey pet owners to ask if they are satisfied with their pet insurance provider, and you can also see the winner of our customer satisfaction award at the link above.

If you want to, you can also compare pet insurance with Canstar to find a policy that might be best suited to your and your pet’s needs.

Cover image source: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com


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