In all, there are three broad categories of pet insurance: policies that offer coverage for accidents; policies that offer coverage for accidents and illnesses; and comprehensive ones that cover for these plus other treatments. Some insurers may also offer third-party cover if your pet causes injury to another animal, a person or property. Several home and contents policies may also offer pet insurance as an optional extra.
Each pet insurer may offer various types of coverage, and some things that are covered by one may not be covered by another but, in general, these are the kinds of coverage you can expect to see on offer.
So what do these terms actually mean? We’ll explain each type of cover in detail, and consider the circumstances when it might be right for you and your pet.
What is accident-only pet insurance?
As the name suggests, accident-only pet insurance is the most basic type of pet insurance cover available. Nobody wants to see their pet injured, but whether your pet is injured at the dog park, is in an accident with a vehicle, or is involved in some other accident that results in injury, then this type of cover can cover a portion of the costs of treatment.
When might accident-only pet insurance be right for you?
Accident-only cover may be appropriate if you are only looking for cover in the instance your cat, dog or other pet is injured in an accident. This type of cover may be suitable if your pet has already been desexed and does not require this procedure, and if you are prepared to pay out of pocket for regular treatments such as worming and vaccinations.
Given that this type of cover tends to be the cheapest option, it may likewise be suitable for you if you wish to pay lower premiums, and are prepared to pay out of pocket should your pet develop a particular illness that might require treatment. It is also worth keeping in mind that, depending on the age of your pet, some insurers may only offer accident-only cover. And remember there may be a series of exclusions, such as pre-existing conditions, dental treatments, pregnancy and transplant procedures.
What is accident and illness pet insurance?
Accident and injury insurance offers coverage if your pet is injured, and additionally, offers coverage for any illnesses or disease suffered by your pet. This can mean such things as cancer, infectious diseases, hereditary conditions, ear and eye conditions (potentially excluding cataracts), spinal conditions and skin conditions.
When might accident and illness pet insurance be right for you?
Accident and illness cover might be appropriate for types of pets that are known to experience health conditions. For example, french bulldogs and other brachycephalic dogs such as pugs, shih tzus and boston terriers are known to suffer from respiratory conditions, and larger dogs like german shepherds can suffer hip dysplasia.
This type of cover may be suitable for you if you have the kind of dog that may have slightly more complex health needs, and may be susceptible to a hereditary condition. As with the accident-only policy, there may be exclusions with accident and illness cover. It also does not cover you for conditions for which there is a vaccine. Before taking on this level of pet insurance, it is worth checking that an insurer covers for the conditions you may be concerned about.
Compare Pet Insurance with Canstar
The table below shows a snapshot of accident & illness pet insurance policies, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest). These results are based on cover for a 1-year old, medium breed of dog.
What is comprehensive pet insurance?
Comprehensive pet insurance, otherwise known as accident, illness and routine care insurance, provides a level of cover for all the things mentioned above, as well as other procedures. Depending on the insurer, these procedures may include vaccinations, worming treatments, dental care, teeth cleaning and even flea and tick control.
Comprehensive insurance typically also covers desexing and microchipping, two things that are particularly important in a pet’s first year, and may even be required, depending on which state you live in.
When might comprehensive pet insurance be right for you?
Comprehensive pet insurance might be suitable for you if you feel your pet may be susceptible to certain health conditions, such as the ones mentioned above, and you also want to be covered for annual routine expenses such as vaccinations, teeth cleaning, flea and worming treatments.
It is worth noting that as above, there are certain exclusions to comprehensive cover. Once again, pre-existing conditions will typically not be covered, and more complex things such as complicated surgeries, organ transplants and artificial limbs may not be covered. It is a good idea to check what exclusions apply to the policy you are considering.
It is also worth noting that if signs of abuse or neglect are detected in an animal, these can cause your pet insurance to be voided.
Compare Pet Insurance with Canstar
The table below shows a snapshot of five accident, illness and routine care pet insurance policies, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest). These results are based on cover for a 1-year old, medium breed of dog.
How much of your vet bill is covered by pet insurance?
While pet insurance will rarely cover your entire bill, you can be covered from 80% eligible vet bills up to 100%, depending on circumstances such as the age of your pet.
Pet insurers offer different annual benefit limits, which describes the maximum amount of money you can claim in a year. Depending on the insurer, you might be able to claim up to $25,000 or more in a year.
When you take out pet insurance, you will typically also be asked to choose a percentage benefit limit. This describes the maximum amount of each bill that you can claim, and it could vary from 60% to 90% or even 100%, depending on the provider.
Generally speaking, when it comes to pet insurance, the higher the total annual benefit limit, and the higher the percentage benefit limit, the more you can expect to pay.
How do you compare pet insurance?
Each year, Canstar gives an Award for outstanding value for both accident and illness and comprehensive pet insurance policies. The Award is given to the insurance providers that offer Australians the greatest value for money. We also ask consumers about which pet insurer they are most satisfied with, and you can also see the winner at the link above.
If you wish to compare pet insurance to find a policy that might suit you and your pet, you can also do that with Canstar.
Cover image source: Yekatseryna Netuk/Shutterstock.com. Sub-edited by Milan Cuk.