Pet Insurance Is It Worth It?

In a risk averse world pet insurance is becoming more mainstream but is it right for you?

Human health care in Australia is extremely good. Medicare and/or private health insurance covers every Australian to provide excellent coverage but what about our pets? The lack of any government assistance means we are all liable to cover all costs of our pets healthcare. In Australia there are a small number privately run charities which can assist those who cannot fully cover treatment costs of their pets but the larger charities, such as the RSPCA, do not routinely fund treatment of individual animals. So the question is do I take out pet insurance to cover my out of pocket expenses?

As with any insurance the answer to this question will depend on your financial situation and how risk averse you are. There are such a huge number of companies and policies these days it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. There are a few very important basic principles however which may help in your decision making.

Firstly, if you are considering insurance take it out early i.e. when your pet is still very young. There are two main reasons for this – young animals do tend to have more accidents/issues than adults, the classic is the rock eating puppy, and secondly if you take out the policy before any health issues arise these will not be excluded from the insurance coverage.

Secondly, think about if you would like insurance to cover everything including routine treatments such as vaccination. For most people pet insurance is taken out to cover against major issues i.e. major accident or illness but for a smaller number they want to cover everything. Obviously full coverage is more expensive!

Thirdly consider the breed of your pet and make sure the policy covers issues that commonly affect the breed. For example if you have a very small breed dog or pure breed cat you really need a policy that covers dental issues. If you have a working or large breed dog the policy should not exclude cruciate ligament disease but dental coverage is less important. A little research and reading the fine print will help you with these decisions but you can always ask us if in doubt.

Fourthly, in purely financial terms, would you be able the cover the out of pocket expense associated with a major illness or accident versus a smaller monthly insurance premium? We always recommend a cheaper monthly insurance policy which covers just major accident/illness is a good way to go if finances are tight as in the worst case scenario you won’t be confronted with a large out of pocket expense during a traumatic period. $40 a month for most of us is manageable but $10,000 for a major illness/accident may not be.

As with everything these days the options are seemingly endless. A little research online, chatting to friends with pets and to us at St Francis should make the choice easier however. Over the years pet insurance in Australia has grown and for good reason. Our pets are becoming closer family members than ever before so we want the absolute best for them. On the flip side the best treatment isn’t cheap and as vets offer better and better care so prices increase. We insure out personal valuables without a thought so logically this should include our much loved pets!