Pet insurance in Australia is relatively new and a growing industry in this country.
Pet insurance can give pet owners peace of mind and financial protection in case of sudden accidents or serious illnesses, where medical costs can be a sudden burden and can add up to a great deal of money. Statistics show that one in every 3 pets will require emergency treatment each year. Pet insurance can help deal with these situations.
There are many pet insurance plans available. Most insurance plans are underwritten by the Hollard Insurance Company, for example Bow Wow Meow, RSPCA pet insurance, PetSecure, ProSure and Medibank pet insurance), while the Allianz Insurance Company has its own Pet Insurance Plan, Pet Plan.
If you desire a pet insurance plan, the first step is for the insurance companies to assess how much risk your pet has of illness and injury. This process is called “underwriting”.
There are two types of underwriting, either upfront or at claim time.
Upfront underwriting means the insurance company gathers information to assess your pet insurance upon application, and will let you know what is and isn’t covered upfront if your pet has pre-existing conditions. One example of this type of insurance is Pet Plan.
Underwriting at claim time means that the first time you make a claim to have your insurance cover the cost of a medical condition, the company will gather information to assess if there are pre-existing conditions that can be linked to your claim. If they find the problem was pre-existing then your claim may be declined. This means you may think you are covered for everything, but depending on your pet’s health history you may not be. For that reason we usually advise our clients to sign up early when interested in getting pet insurance.
When choosing Pet Insurance, it is very important to check the details of each plan, and to read the Pet Insurance Product Disclosure Statements, so you understand what is and isn’t covered and whether or not the plan meets your needs.
Commonly, pet insurance exclusions (costs which are not covered by insurance) and limitations include the following:
Insurance is meant to protect against future illnesses and injuries, therefore pre-existing conditions are usually excluded from coverage.
Check to see if your chosen policy has waiting periods for certain benefits. For expensive procedures such as cruciate ligament surgery, waiting periods can be weeks to even months.
Diseases for which there is a vaccine
Some policies may not cover for diseases if your pet has not been vaccinated and subsequently catches the disease. It is important to read the fine print.
This refers to injuries or illnesses that often occur on both sides of the body, for example hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament damage, and eye diseases. If your policy has a bilateral exclusion and your pet has a pre-existing condition in one knee, the costs of treatment may not be covered if the other knee subsequently develops the same issue.
Levels of Coverage
Like any other type of insurance, pet insurance comes in several different “levels” of coverage, with variable costs and exclusions. Most policies will cover either a percentage of veterinary costs or will charge an excess per condition. The main types of coverage available are:
This is usually the cheapest coverage available, and will only cover your pet if they have an accidental injury such as a motor vehicle accident.
This will cover expenses for accidental injury as well as illnesses.
Comprehensive and Wellness Cover
If offered this could cover not only expenses for accidental injury and illnesses but also routine wellness treatments such as vaccinations, worming, and even desexing.
For a range of brochures and comparison sheets on pet insurance, please visit the Cronulla Veterinary Clinic at 41 Kingsway Cronulla, or check out the various Pet Insurance Plans online.