What does my pet insurance cover? Keeping man’s best friend protected

Smiling lady holding small healthy white dog in arms

Pet ownership in Australia is booming, with Animal Medicines Australia estimating roughly 69% of households are home to a domesticated pet. With this figure growing from 61% in just two years, that’s a lot of new pets to look after - and a lot of pets to keep healthy!

If you’ve been wondering whether or not pet insurance is worth it, we’ve explored why this investment might be a worthwhile pick for you (and a furry friend or two).

Do I need pet insurance?

Pet insurance comes in different types, covering specific types of animals to varying degrees. Dog insurance and cat insurance are by far the most common, with specialist providers like Petcover offering cover for reptiles, rabbits and exotic birds. 

Many providers offer accident-only insurance, accident and illness insurance, and comprehensive insurance. To think of this similarly to your own insurance - this is the difference between no frills coverage for accidents and a plan with all of the extras. 

Moneysmart estimates the total yearly costs of cat or dog ownership as between $960 to $2,000 (and significantly more in the first year). Insurance alone averages up to $300 a year, and can be much higher in the case of certain breeds and risk factors. Pet ownership is no cheap feat, and these costs can vary wildly depending on your personal circumstances and pet of choice.

Things to take into consideration when deciding on pet insurance are:

  • What breed is your pet? Some breeds are more expensive to insure than others due to genetic mixtures or size differences.
  • Where do you live? Is your pet going to be roaming free, interacting with wildlife, or taking it easy in an apartment? Consider things like scavenging, animal attacks, and snake bites.
  • How old is your pet? After the age of 9, subject to policy, many providers will reject dogs for new comprehensive coverage.  Consider the age of your pet and how this relates to long-term illness and behaviour. Some policies cease coverage entirely after the age of eight for both cats and dogs, so it’s important to check.
  • Does your pet have any pre-existing conditions? Much like humans, furry friends can be prone to heart conditions and joint problems. Often related to age, it’s important to assess how your pet’s conditions will affect your coverage.
Ginger cat balancing on a wall against a blue sky, carefree

What can I claim on pet insurance?

A lot of people’s first decision when it comes to exploring pet insurance comes after an emergency vet visit, or after an eyebrow-raising bill.

The initial costs of deworming, desexing, and vaccinating a pet may be partially covered by some comprehensive plans, making it all the more important to carefully review the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). This option is a great way to cover animals that are genetically predisposed towards certain conditions, as long as they are covered early and before a condition is classified as pre-existing. 

If you have already dealt with those initial first year pet costs, comprehensive pet insurance retraces a lot of ground you have already covered. Accident and injury cover allows you to claim things like injuries from accidents, common illnesses and vet visits. Accident only coverage is more limited, more focused on broken bones, snake bites, and other unexpected occurrences.

As the pet insurance market expands, more providers offer broader and more niche kinds of coverage. Some policies have extended their breadth to provide support for emergency boarding, prosthesis, prescription food and behavioural treatments, amongst other things! These will be subject to limits and conditions, but if they are of interest to you it is worth investigating.

What isn’t covered by my pet insurance?

With more and more pet insurance providers popping up on the market, it’s easier to find policies that cover your pet’s specific needs. That said, there are still some things you’ll have a hard time getting coverage for.

Some common pet insurance exclusions include:

  • Waiting limits. No matter the level of coverage or price of your premiums, pet insurance will not cover treatment for an illness or accident that occurred during the mandatory waiting period for the policy.
  • Breeding or pregnancy. Any associated conditions are generally off limits.
  • Elective or cosmetic treatments. This covers non-essential dental work, grooming and more.
  • Treatment for diseases with known vaccines.
  • Treatment for bilateral conditions (pre-existing conditions relating to body parts with a “left” and “right” part, i.e. eyes and ears).

You may also run into trouble when it comes to insuring adopted pets. While adopting is an important practice, unknown history and parentage can be used to justify limited coverage. 

And if your favourite pet rock happens to contain some fancy gemstone? You might be looking in the wrong place for coverage.

To keep your furry (or feathered, or scaly!) friends covered, find this year’s best pet insurance.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards