Dog and puppy insurance: guide to finding the best cover for your dog

close up on a man hugging his dog that he has purchased pet insurance for

While you can't put a price on the love and companionship of a dog, over time, they can be a hefty expense. The costs of a family pup can really stack up, from food and supplies to inevitable vet bills.

You take out home and contents, car and travel insurance policies, so why not insure one of the most valuable things in your life? Your dog. 

More and more Australians are taking out pet insurance, to prevent a decision about a beloved dog’s health from becoming a financial decision. So, if you’re considering purchasing cover for your furry friend, here’s everything you need to know on dog and puppy insurance.

What is dog insurance?

Dog insurance is pet insurance - specifically for man’s best friend. 

No dog owner ever wants to be in a position where they have to deny their animal medical treatment due to financial necessity. Dog insurance can cover some of those critical veterinary costs, so your dog can receive the treatment they deserve without any need for hesitation.

What is covered by dog insurance?

What is covered by your dog insurance policy is hugely dependent on which pet insurance provider and cover type you select. 

Think about car insurance: you can go for third-party cover, which only covers the other car if you’re involved in an accident, or comprehensive car insurance, which covers both vehicles involved

Dog insurance works similarly. There are different levels of cover available: accident-only, accident-illness and comprehensive. You’ll usually find that an accident-only policy will provide far more basic coverage than a comprehensive policy might provide. Remember to check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to determine what precisely is and isn’t covered, as it can vary between policy types and dog insurance providers.

Compare dog insurance policies:

You have several options when choosing and comparing dog insurance. Here’s a look at some of the specialist dog insurance brands available so that you can compare offers and essential policy information.

Compare top dog insurance policies

Knose Knose Pet Insurance *
  • 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards^ Pet Insurance Provider of the Year
  • $25,000 annual benefit limit
  • 5% discount with promo code MOZO5

Crowned 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards^ Pet Insurance Provider of the Year, Knose Pet Insurance offers exceptional value to Aussie dog owners. Developed with the help of vets, Knose has kept its policy simple and easy to understand. There is a single annual benefit limit of $25,000, and policyholders can select a coverage benefit percentage (70%, 80% or 90%) to cover that portion of vet costs of valid claims. Optional extras include dental illness, alternative therapies and behavioural problems (waiting periods may apply). Your dog needs to be between 6 weeks and 9 years old when starting insurance to be eligible for cover. Knose also offers a pet care plan option that can include flea, tick and worming medication, regular check-ups, vaccinations, nail clippings, and more for a flat monthly fee. To receive a 5% discount on your policy, use the MOZO5 promo code at sign up (T&Cs apply to all discounts).

Pet Insurance Australia Pet Insurance Australia Pet Insurance*
  • Mozo Experts Choice Awards^ winner
  • Choice of excess
  • Two months free premium (T&Cs apply)

Pet Insurance Australia has consistently topped the Mozo Experts Choice Awards^ winners list for its exceptional value insurance. There is a choice of policy options, including essential cover, comprehensive and major medical cover, so that you can select an option based on your dog’s needs and your budget. There is an annual benefit limit of $6,000 for Essentials cover ($1,000 annual condition limit) and up to $15,145 on Major Medical cover. You’ll have a choice of excess and peace of mind knowing that your pet could be covered for both accidental injury and illness (some waiting periods and exclusions apply). And when you sign up today, you'll get the equivalent of two months shaved off your premium for the first year (T&Cs apply to all discounts).

Budget Direct Budget Direct Pet Insurance*
  • Get 15% off your first year’s premium for policies purchased online
  • Your choice of vet
  • Cover for all orthopedic conditions (T&Cs and sub-limits apply)

Budget Direct offers pet insurance for your dog, covering your four-legged friend for both accidental injury or illness. You don’t have to worry about which vet to take your pet to in an emergency, as you can choose from any qualified and registered vet in Australia. Budget Direct covers all orthopedic conditions, but sub-limits and exclusions do apply, so be sure you read the PDS thoroughly. The policy covers up to 80% of the cost of eligible vet expenses, with a $12,000 annual cover limit (sub-limits apply). Some waiting periods do apply, and there is a $100 excess for every unrelated condition you claim for. There is no excess for further treatments of a related condition during the same period of cover. By signing up online you'll get a 15% discount on your first year's premium (T&Cs apply to discount).

What types of dog insurance are there in Australia?

There are different types of dog insurance available that offer varying levels of cover. It’s important to balance your pet’s theoretical medical needs with your current financial reality when selecting a dog insurance plan. 

The levels of dog insurance available in Australia are:There are different types of dog insurance available that offer varying levels of cover. It’s important to balance your pet’s theoretical medical needs with your current financial reality when selecting a dog insurance plan. 

The levels of dog insurance available in Australia are:

  • Accident-only dog insurance: 

    This type of pet insurance covers any healthcare costs your pooch might incur if they’re injured in an accident. Injuries from car accidents, fights with other animals, burns or snake bites are typically covered under this policy type. However, be sure to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) as an accident-only policy doesn’t cover all accidents.
  • Comprehensive dog insurance cover:

    A comprehensive plan is the highest level of dog insurance you can take out. It covers accident-illness with the addition of routine and preventative care, such as vaccinations and worming. 

    Again, although comprehensive policies cover the most issues of the three plan types, most will not cover pre-existing medical conditions. Read your provider’s PDS for a full list of all covered accidents and illnesses.
  • Accident-illness cover:

    Accident and illness dog insurance is a mid-range cover that includes injuries due to accidents, as well as illness. Exactly what is covered varies from plan to plan, but most usually include illnesses such as cancer, infectious diseases, and skin conditions. 

    Most dog insurance policies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions (conditions that your pet already had before being insured). Again, it’s essential to check your policy’s PDS for a complete list of all covered accidents and illnesses.

What are the most important factors to compare dog insurance?

Before you purchase a dog insurance policy there are some key things to consider. Each pet insurance provider has different inclusions, exclusions, costs and terms and conditions that might make it bestsuited to you and your furry friend. 

It’s important to read providers’ PDS to fully understand what is and is not covered.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when comparing one policy to another:

  • Budget: Every dog owner wants the best for their pooch, but it’s important to know what is possible financially. When looking for a policy, go over your finances and budget how much you can afford to spend. From this, you will have an insight into what level of pet insurance you might want to look into and whether a monthly or annual premium will better suit your situation.
  • Waiting periods: A waiting period is the required time between when you take your dog to the vet and when you lodge your claim with your insurance provider. It is something important to keep an eye out for when reading the PDS.
  • Pre-existing conditions: If your pup has any pre-existing conditions, then it’s always best to disclose this before taking out a policy and confirm that it will be covered. Remember to carefully read the PDS to check whether your pet's pre-existing condition will be covered too.
  • Benefit caps: A benefit cap is the maximum total amount covered by the pet insurance policy within an insurance period. This varies between providers, so you’ll want to check the policy’s PDS to learn the annual limit you can claim for your dog.
  • Dog breed: Some dog breeds, such as brachycephalic breeds like Frenchies and Pugs, for example, are more likely to have certain illnesses and higher health risks. This means that depending on your pup’s breed, insurance might be more expensive. 

    The size of the breed also matters. The 2021 Mozo Pet Insurance Report showed that, in general, the larger the dog, the more expensive the insurance plan. Tinier breeds of dogs, such as West Highland White Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers and Pomeranians, tend to cost hundreds of dollars less to cover than bigger breeds like Mastiffs.

    Additionally, a very small number of breeds are considered dangerous and are under strict restrictions in most states in Australia. These are: Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasiliero, Dogo Argentino, Perrode Presa Canario, and American Pit Bull Terrier. Therefore, insurance will probably not be available for dogs of these types.
  • Dog age: Most dog insurance is available between the ages of 8 weeks and 8-9 years, after which they are often disqualified for many types of coverage. Some companies increase premiums as your dog gets older and the likelihood of them requiring frequent healthcare increases, so check the policy’s PDS before signing up.

How to find the best dog insurance

Are you still not sure which dog insurance provider best suits you and your pooch? Lucky for you, Mozo’s experts have thoroughly analysed multiple policies and handed out the 2021 Mozo Expert Choice Pet Insurance Awards to the top-scoring providers. Check out some of the major winners below:

graphic of logos of mozo expert choice award pet insurance winners 2021

After winning across multiple categories in this year’s Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards, these providers took the major categories:

  • RAC for Western Australia’s Best Pet Insurance
  • Knose for Pet Insurance Provider of the Year 2021
  • RACQ for Queensland’s Best Pet Insurance

Those were the overall winners. If you’re looking for something more specific, we reviewed a number of other policies on their value and quality. If you'd like a full breakdown of all the winners across different categories and more info on how we chose these policies, check out the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance methodology report.

Or, for more details on the big winners, read up on the best pet insurance in Australia in 2021.

FAQs about dog and puppy Insurance

How much does dog insurance cost?

Many factors can impact the cost of dog insurance. The level of cover you choose is a significant determining factor in the price of your insurance policy. Additionally, the size and breed of your dog and if you decide to add any extra benefits to your insurance plan can change the price.

Also, your dog’s age can play a part in the cost of your dog insurance policy. Some companies increase premiums as your dog gets older and the likelihood of them requiring frequent healthcare increases, so check the policy’s PDS before signing up.

Do you need dental cover for your dog?

As dental issues can be common, especially as dogs get older, and can also lead to more significant health issues, preventative care is usually necessary but can sometimes be costly.

Not all dog insurance policies include dental cover, so it is important to check the PDS to see if your pup’s teeth are covered. While some more comprehensive policies do include dental care as part of their offerings, those that do not usually offer it as an add-on that you can purchase.

Does dog insurance cover vaccinations?

Yes, you can get vaccinations under some types of dog insurance. It is usually considered a part of routine and preventative care, which is treatment covered by a comprehensive dog insurance policy but can also sometimes be purchased as an additional add-on cover, depending on the provider. It is important to check the PDS to see if vaccinations are covered.

What's the best age I should get my dog insured?

As most dog insurance policies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions (conditions that your pet already had before being insured), it can be worth it to invest in insurance as early as possible. This increases the likelihood that any medical issues your puppy develops in their lifetime will be covered by the insurance policy.

Is dog insurance worth having?

While pet insurance is an expense, it’s really an investment. As the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry. The right dog insurance policy can give you peace of mind knowing that if your pup got hurt or sick, you could seek treatment without worry about finances.

Can sporting and breeding dogs be covered by insurance?

Dogs that participate in sporting events, such as racing or gun sports, or breeding are often disqualified from standard pet insurance policies.

* Terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits may apply to any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. These terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits could affect the level of benefits and cover available under any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. Please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and the Target Market Determination on the provider's website for further information before making any decisions about an insurance product.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards