What determines the cost of pet insurance in 2018?

21 August 2018
Australians are among the most pet-loving people in the world, with an estimated 62% of households having a pet (trumping the global average of 57%). However, only a small percentage of us actually buy pet insurance with Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) finding only one in four dog owners had pet insurance while one in five had insurance for their cats.

According to Canstar’s Group Manager of Research and Ratings Mitch Watson, this statistic doesn’t reflect a lack of affection toward our pets, but rather key barriers, including perceived costs and a lack of awareness. In some cases, it could cost upwards of $1,000 a year, and let’s face it, we’re already busy spending money on other things like food, medicine and maybe even a few props for our pet’s Instagram page.

“Pet insurance is still relatively new in Australia so the level of awareness of these products and their offering may not be as high as other industries,” Mr Watson said.

“However, data has shown the demand for pet insurance has been growing over the past five years with visits to veterinarians projected to be more frequent.

“This has seen growth in the range of veterinary services provided to households – particularly specialist areas of growth regarding small animals including MRI scans, oncology, hip replacements and cardiovascular surgery.”

Mr Watson said households may be likely to spend more on their pets in the coming years as economic conditions improve.

“With a growing awareness of animal health issues and the increasing availability of advanced surgical and diagnostic procedures, it is possible that people will become increasingly more willing to spend on pet insurance to give them the financial security to help prolong the lives of their pets.”

How much will you likely pay for pet insurance?

Traditionally the breed and age of your pet determines annual premiums for pet insurance. Additionally, dogs are often costlier than cats as they tend to be more accident prone and cost more to care for due to their size.

According to Mr Watson, this year saw the structure of premiums become more complex, with some providers considering the age of the owner, gender of the pet and whether their owner lives within the CBD.

As more Australians get pets and advances in animal medical treatment continue, Watson said it was likely premiums would continue to rise. With so many factors affecting how much you could end up paying, the importance of shopping around can’t be overstated.

Outstanding Value Pet Insurance Award Winners

Our Outstanding Value winners effectively balanced both low costs and a high feature offering. Speaking more generally, this year’s Outstanding Value pet insurance products offered a high annual benefit limit (between $18,000 and $20,000) and cover for up to 80% of eligible vet bills per year.

Of the 24 pet insurance providers compared, Canstar is pleased to announce the following three winners of the 2018 Outstanding Value Pet Insurance Award (listed in alphabetical order):

Bondi Vet

A new entrant in this year’s Star Ratings, Bondi Vet received a 5-Star rating in 13 of the 16 profiles it was considered for, performing particularly strongly for cat and younger dog accident and illness profiles. This outcome was driven by its competitive premiums and $0 excess offering that was recognised as being beneficial to consumers making multiple claims each year.

Bondi Vet was also recognised for covering up to 70% of eligible vet bills and offering a $20,000 annual benefit limit (compared to the market average of $10,000).

If you are considering Bondi Vet pet insurance, here is a snapshot of what’s available in our comparison table below. 


Petbarn Pet Insurance

Petbarn has retained both the Accident and Illness and Comprehensive Cover Awards from 2017 on the back of a premiums-driven performance that was, on average, 50.34% cheaper than the market average for most profiles considered.

Petbarn also performed strongly for features – its $20,000 annual benefit limit was among the highest offered in the market while also reimbursing 85% of eligible vet bills within the first five days (if all supporting documentation is provided). It also provided:

  • Cover for cancer treatments
  • Cover for hereditary and skin conditions
  • Online and mobile support 12 hours a day

If you are considering PetBarn pet insurance, here is a snapshot of what’s available in our comparison table below. 


Petmed logo

PetMed also retained its award position for the fourth consecutive year for both the Accident and Illness and Comprehensive Cover Awards. Petmed achieved a 5-Star rating across all profiles for its Young Pets Ultimate Plan –driven by a powerful combination of price and features, especially in age groups under one year within the accident and illness profile.

PetMed’s feature offering included industry-leading:

  • Accident and general inclusions
  • Conditions of cover

Notably, Petmed provide cover for fractures, snake bites, tick paralysis, motor vehicle accidents and ligament damage. PetMed also offered cover for laboratory and diagnostic tests, medicine, specialist care, emergency boarding fees and hospitalisation was also available up to the annual benefit limit.

If you are considering Petmed pet insurance, here is a snapshot of what’s available in our comparison table below. 

The Canstar Pet Insurance Star Ratings uses a sophisticated and unique ratings methodology that compares both cost and features across pet insurance products. Canstar star ratings represent a shortlist of products, enabling consumers to narrow their search to products that have been assessed and ranked.

To arrive at a total score, Canstar applies a weight against the price and feature scores. For more information on how Canstar calculates Star Ratings, please read our methodology.