Whether your pet is staying home alone this holiday season or hitting the road with you, it pays to be prepared for the unexpected.
More than two-thirds of Australians now have a pet and some of us have a whole menagerie to love. Should they get bitten by another animal, pick up the flu, or swallow a Christmas bauble, it may not be a Merry Christmas for them or your bank balance.
Treatment for injuries or illnesses can run into the thousands of dollars and consultations can be particularly hefty if out-of-hours or public holiday emergency care is needed. A pet insurance policy can cover 60 to 100% of vet bills, but how do you decide if it is worth the outlay?
Below are points to ponder before taking out pet insurance.
1) How old is your pet?
Many policies won’t cover a pet that is more than eight years old. And if you’re not sure of your pet’s age because they are a rescue, that can be tricky too.
2) What breed is your pet?
They may be cute and adorable but some breeds are more prone to issues than others. French bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers, for instance, can be susceptible to respiratory issues and that can push up the cost of insurance.
3) Do they have any pre-existing conditions?
It may be difficult to get cover, or cover for a reasonable cost, if your pet has a pre-existing condition. So, think about insuring your pet when it is eight weeks old, particularly if you want cover for vaccinations, desexing, and council registration.
4) Does switching make sense?
In recent years, more insurers have entered the pet market. If you’ve been automatically renewing your policy, take the time to have another look around.
When you’re sizing up another policy, make sure it offers similar (or better) benefits, check on any waiting periods and how the potential insurer might treat any pre-existing conditions. What are the annual benefit limits and are there any sub-limits for benefits such as cruciate ligament conditions?
5) What is excluded?
Whether you’re buying a new policy or switching, make sure you understand any exclusions. Most policies don’t cover dental treatments, pregnancy, and transplant procedures. Behavioural problems or any conditions caused by behavioural problems are unlikely to be covered. Grooming, training and socialisation, alternative therapies, and pet food or supplements (even those recommended by your vet), are generally excluded.
6) Can you reduce your costs?
There are three levels of cover beginning with the most basic accident-only cover. Then there is accident and illness cover and finally comprehensive cover, which adds routine healthcare to the mix. The higher the total annual benefit limit and the higher the percentage benefit limit, the higher the premiums. Agreeing to pay a higher excess in the event of a claim can lower your annual premium. Got multiple pets to insure? You may be eligible for a discount.
7) Could you save instead?
It may be better to save money in a separate bank account to fund any unexpected pet-related problems.
As you can see, there are a variety of different factors to consider, so take the time to do your own research when deciding what’s worth it for you and your furry friend.