Over the last few years, the pet insurance industry has boomed across Australia and around the world. And thank goodness for that. It is one of the best safeguards you can have in place when your pet succumbs to an unexpected accident or illness.
And while the monetary benefit is great enough, insurance policies don't start and end with dollars and cents. The right policy can also help you avoid having to make some really difficult and potentially heartbreaking decisions. And finding the best policy for you is all about working out that sweet spot between what you can afford to pay for the premium and what peace-of-mind that premium will provide you with.
Here are some things to consider:
Coverage: Make sure you understand what is covered under the policy. Some insurance may only cover accidents, while other policies may also cover illnesses, medical visits and routine care.
Premiums and excess fees: Find out what the starting premium is and factor in increases over your pet’s life. Premiums typically increase according to your pet’s age and the insurance claims that you make. Make sure you understand what your out-of-pocket costs will be for each claim.
Annual limits: This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out over the course of 12 months. Higher limits are generally more beneficial, but they often come with a higher price tag.
Waiting periods: Some policies have a waiting period after you sign up and before the coverage starts. Make sure you know how long that period is and what is and isn't covered during it.
Exclusions: Most policies will not cover certain breed-related or pre-existing conditions, or they may put a cap on how much they will pay for particular conditions (e.g tick paralysis or cruciate ligament tears), so always read the fine print.
Reputation: Research the insurance company and read reviews from other pet owners to get an idea of their reputation and customer service.
Compare: Don’t sign up with the first insurer you come across. Instead, compare a selection of policies with the above points in mind.
Don’t Delay: It’s best to do your research before you get your pet so that you can sign up to the policy as soon as your pet arrives home, or even before that! All too often pet owners rush their new pets into veterinary hospitals with accidents or illnesses only to find out that they are not covered by insurance.
Ultimately, the importance of insurance is to provide peace-of-mind and financial protection for your pet’s health. By choosing the right policy, you’ll be more likely to make decisions on your pet’s veterinary care based on the clinical picture and prognosis, rather than from the financial situation alone.