To protect themselves against unexpected veterinary costs, many pet owners buy pet insurance. This type of animal health insurance is like a safety net that can help you cover your bills. However, sometimes, it can seem like an unnecessary expense. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to get educated and do research into what exactly you should be looking for when buying one.
How much does it cost? What should I be aware of? What are the alternatives? Let this blog help you understand what your options are and avoid getting stuck with a bad plan.
Pet Insurance Costs
The price of pet insurance will depend on a few factors, including the company, what type of policy you want, and the area you live in. According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), these are the monthly average costs for pet insurance:
- $20 per month for accident-only cover costs.
- $35-$55 per month for accident and illness cover costs.
- $60 per month for comprehensive cover costs.
What the Pet Insurance Packages Include
The different pet insurance plans usually cover:
- Harm or injuries caused by an accident.
- Vet costs for accidents and illnesses. The illness must be diagnosed by a vet and can include cancer, infectious diseases, hereditary conditions, and skin conditions.
- Costs for accidents and illnesses, as well as routine vaccinations, worming treatments, de-sexing, dental care, and behavioral therapy training classes.
What the Pet Insurance Packages Exclude
Before purchasing your pet insurance, it’s important to know that pet insurance plans come with a number of exceptions. The most common exceptions are:
- Illnesses or injuries due to pre-existing conditions.
- The policy might not cover all types of accidents. Like tick and flea bites for example.
- Sometimes the policy won’t cover your pet for chronic, recurring, or lifelong conditions.
- Treatment for illnesses that happen during the policy’s waiting period.
- Treatment for diseases that have a known vaccine, for example, kennel cough.
- Vet costs for elective treatments such as de-sexing and routine care. Unless your plan covers them.
- Complex surgeries like organ transplants.
- Ambulance costs.
- Artificial limbs/prosthetics.
Let’s look at two examples. Mary has a 3-year-old dog, Rollo, and John has a 2-year-old cat, Missy. They both have pet insurance. Rollo got a bad heartworm and needed treatment that cost $1,000. The insurance covered $800 and Mary had to pay $200.
When Missy got a bad eye infection, the insurance didn’t cover the treatment because Missy had seen a vet for the same condition when she was a kitten. Her condition was pre-existing.
Before getting pet insurance, there are some things you need to be on the lookout for:
- The age of your pet. You should know that pet insurance for older cats and dogs is more difficult to find. The reason behind this is that older pets are more likely to get sick. The best way to have your pet covered in old age is to get a lifetime policy when they’re still young.
- The breed of your pet. The costs of pet insurance might vary, depending on the breed. Dogs born from unintended breeding are typically more expensive dog breeds to insure. Conventional breeds have well-documented hereditary conditions and are cheaper to insure. The most expensive cat breeds to insure include the Domestic short-haired cat, Tabby, Domestic medium-haired cat, and Ragdoll.
- Additional costs. Keep in mind that some pet insurance companies will ask you to pay an excess when you make a claim. What’s more, you may also need to pay some out-of-pocket vet expenses if there’s a specified limit to the costs. For example, just like in the case above with Mary’s dog Rollo, the expenses for the treatment were $1000, but the policy only covered 80% of this (that is, $800). Mary still had to pay an additional $200.
How to Save Money
To avoid unexpected expenses, there are some things you can do.
- Desex your pet. Desexed pets are less likely to get diseases and certain illnesses, such as mammary cancer, uterine infections, and prostate problems. Desexing also reduces behavioral problems, including roaming, aggression, and urine marking.
- Get your pet chipped. If your pet has a chip, it can be easier to find him if he gets lost. This drastically reduces the chances of your pet getting an injury or catching a disease.
- Review your policy annually. You should know that some pet insurance companies stop insuring animals for illnesses once they reach a certain age. Your pet can stay insured for their whole life if they’re continuously covered before they turned nine years old. Make sure you check your company’s policies to avoid any financial surprises.
- Get multi-pet insurance. This is a great option if you have more than one pet. It’s a good way to save money and you’ll get a discount for any subsequent animal you put on the policy.
The Best Alternatives to Pet Insurance
There are some alternatives to pet insurance if this is not an option for you:
- Self-insurance. You can set aside money each month to pay for any potential pet bills. You can open a savings account, put in a small amount of cash regularly, and hopefully, you’ll accumulate enough money to pay for your pet care.
- Charities. There are some charities that have free pet hospitals. However, keep in mind that they’re usually underfunded and help people who are on income support.
Did you find this guide helpful? What is your experience with pet insurance? Tell us in the comments below, we would love to hear your thoughts.