Pet insurance

Pet insurance for your cat, dog, or other animal friends. Compare pet insurance quotes with Savvy and save.

Compare pet insurance options in Australia

For pet owners, taking care of your animal is of the highest importance. Most of us view our cats or dogs as being extra members of our families!

For this reason, you’ve probably considered taking out a pet insurance policy to make sure that you can take the best care of your pet while also staying on top of your finances.

Luckily, here you can find an overview of all of the essential information you need for understanding pet insurance and learn how to best compare, contrast and choose between the best policies for you and your pet.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is a common financial product that aims to help manage the costs of unfortunate events which might occur in your pet’s lives that jeopardise their health and wellbeing. These insurance policies can cover pets of all types, ranging from common dogs and household cats to less common animals such as turtles or even prized horses.

The cost of policies can range greatly depending on the type of animal you wish to insure, the level of coverage that you are seeking, and the history of your pet. Fortunately, there is a great variety of insurers available to pet owners in Australia to choose from. These insurers range from large well-known insurance companies which provide pet insurance as part of a broad suite of products, to smaller specialist insurers whose sole focus is providing the best pet insurance.

Using Savvy’s online comparison tools is a great place to start to wrap your head around different policy options, the details of each of these options and the associated costs. Comparing the top options will leave you in good stead to select the best policy to suit your needs.

How does pet insurance work?

In the same way as most insurance products, pet insurance works by requiring to pay a monthly or annual premium. After paying this premium, then you can claim reimbursements for expenses relating to your pet’s health under circumstances outlined in your policy.

Different policy types provide different levels of coverage to your pet, which include ‘accident only’, ‘accident and illness’, and ‘accident, illness and routine care’. The different costs covered or excluded by these policy types are as follows:

Included Excluded
Accident only
  • Vet bills for accidental injury such as broken bones and wounds.
  • Illness and disease such as diabetes, joint conditions and tick paralysis.
  • Routine care such as dental treatments and vaccinations.
  • Grooming, breeding costs and behavioural training.
Accident and illness
  • Vet bills for accidental injury such as broken bones and wounds.
  • Illness and disease such as diabetes, joint conditions and tick paralysis.
  • Routine care such as dental treatments and vaccinations.
  • Grooming, breeding costs and behavioural training.
Accident, illness and routine care
  • Vet bills for accidental injury such as broken bones and wounds.
  • Illness and disease such as diabetes, joint conditions and tick paralysis.

    Routine care such as dental treatments and vaccinations.
  • Grooming, breeding costs and behavioural training.

When you incur costs relating to your pet’s health, you can then make a claim with your insurer in order to be reimbursed for the previously agreed-upon portion of the total costs. For example, if your dog breaks its leg and your vet bills costs $1,500, and your ‘accident only’ policy stipulates that you can receive an 80% reimbursement of the vet bills, then you can claim for a $1,200 reimbursement.

At the end of every twelve-month period of coverage for your pet, your policy will be reviewed to account for changes in your pet’s health over the past year (and therefore the increased likelihood of futures claims), as well as the cost of veterinary care across the board. As your pet ages and its health presumably deteriorates slightly, your premium cost will increase.

More insurers will not issue new policies for animals who are of approximately seven years of age or more, because these animals are viewed as having a higher likelihood of health complications moving forwards. For this reason, it is a good idea to insure your pet from a young age, to ensure that your pet will be entitled to ongoing coverage as it enters its senior years.

How do I compare pet insurance?

Comparing pet insurance is simple using Savvy’s online comparison tool, which gives you an easy to digest overview of all of the pet insurers available for you to use, and the specifics of their service which makes them most suitable to you.

The main factors to consider when comparing between similar policies are as follows:

Level of cover

Consider what level of cover you and your pet need, and aim to find policies that correspond to these needs. For example, if you would prefer to be fiscally prudent, then a policy which does not include routine care might be best for you, or if your pet is unlikely to need illness cover, then consider an accident only policy.

Monthly or annual premium

For many pet owners, the cost of pet insurance is a pivotal part of their decision-making process when it comes to deciding on a policy. Obviously, the lower the premium is on a prospective policy, the more appealing it may seem. Make sure that low-cost policies still provide an adequate level of cover, as cheaper policies can sacrifice coverage these for cheaper premiums in some cases.

Furthermore, some insurers offer the opportunity for you pay the entirety of a twelve-month period of premiums up-front in one payment. This can often work out to be a cheaper way to pay for your policy due to the lower administrative costs, so consider which insurers do and do not offer this option.

Maximum benefit amount

The percentage of costs that can be paid out for a claim differ between insurers and policies, as well as the total claim limit. If you value the option to make several claims across the course of the year, then a policy with a high total claim limit will suit you. As well as this, you should aim to find a policy that will offer you the highest percentage of your vet bills back when you claim- typically around 80%.

By making sure that you find a policy which strikes a fair balance between premium costs, reimbursements allowed, and the level of cover for your beloved animal, you will be off to a good start in determining the correct policy for you.

How much does pet insurance cost?

While the cost of pet insurance varies greatly depending on the age, health, species and breed or your pet, the average cost of pet insurance is $40 per month, or $480 per year, according to Moneysmart.

The cheapest policies available to pet owners are generally ‘accident only’ policies with low monthly premiums, lower total claimable expenses and lower individual claim pay-outs. More expensive policies provide more cover while demanding a higher premium, but also offer larger reimbursements for claims and higher overall claim caps. The table below provides an example:

Policy A Policy B
Monthly premium
$40
$60
% of claimable costs
65%
80%
Total annual claims
$15,000
$25,000

As you can see, Policy A provides coverage at a lower premium or fixed cost, with lower benefits on the back end, whereas Policy B demands a higher monthly premium, but can offer greater reimbursements and total claims.

You can consider trying to find a cheaper insurance policy by bundling your pet insurance with other products such as your vehicle or home and contents insurance. Another way that you can keep the cost of your premium low is by taking out a level of cover appropriate to your pet, rather than paying for cover which you will likely not need. Lastly, remember to continue reviewing your insurance options, comparing prices regularly using Savvy’s comparison

Case study: pet insurance working for your finances

Pet insurance can be very helpful for your efforts to manage your finances for two main reasons. The first of these is obvious. If you are unprepared and your pet suddenly required extremely expensive treatment for a condition such as cancer, then you might quickly find that your savings are in jeopardy, potentially disrupting other current plans such as saving for a home or a new car.

The second of these is that when costs are fixed and regular, it becomes far easier to budget and manage your finances as a whole. By knowing that the bulk of your pet’s health care costs will be covered for a regular payment of $50 per month, for example, it becomes simple to manage and track outgoing relating to your pet. We can see how this might work out in the long run by using the example below:

Bruce makes $50 payments towards his pet’s insurance policy per month, as well as $20 payments towards a savings account which he has for other pet expenses. Over the course of two and a half years, Bruce pays 30 monthly premium payments, for a total of $1,500 of out-of-pocket costs. Over the same period, he saves $600 in his pet expense fund.

Bruce’s dog falls ill in the second half of the third year, so Bruce takes his dog to the vet and ends up having to pay $2,500 in vet bills for a surgery, follow-up visits and medications for his dog. Bruce’s $600 helps him to pay these bills up-front, after which he is paid a reimbursement of 80% of the total costs, which equals $2,000.

Because he is reimbursed for the bulk of these expenses, Bruce’s pet insurance policy essentially allows him to spread out the cost of treatment for his dog across 30 months prior to requiring vet attention. This coverage, in conjunction with the savings he has built over time, ensures that he doesn’t have to dip into his primary savings account to fund the vet costs.

Even in the instance that Bruce’s pet bills were less than this, and his reimbursement was less than the total sum of Bruce’s premium payments, Bruce still derives value from his insurance policy, as they allow for minimal interruption to his finances and life plans.

How does a pet insurance claim and payout work?

Claims and payouts for your pet insurance policy generally work as follows:

  • When you first notice something is wrong with your pet, attempt to identify the issue and check if it is covered under your current pet insurance policy.
  • Take your pet to the vet in order to have the issue treated and make payment on the day of treatment.
  • Once you have made payment and your pet is safe and sound, lodge a claim with your insurer in order to begin the reimbursement process.
  • After your claim has been processed and approved, you can expect to receive a reimbursement for a certain percentage of the cost of your pet’s treatment, usually from 60%-80%.
  • Your claim will go on record with your insurer and will be taken into account at the end of the current twelve-month period, possibly resulting in a higher premium for your renewed policy.

Top tips for avoiding pet insurance claims

Keeping these things in mind can help you save on your pet insurance

Exercising caution when out with your pet

Keep an eye out for other animals such as off-leash dogs who might be boisterous and playful, who could potentially hurt your pet, whether through outright violence or during play. While you don’t want to stop your pet from being itself and having fun, you should try to develop a sense of when your pet might be in danger.

Ensure your pet is fit

If you have a dog, then walk it regularly and ensure that it gets sufficient exercise. For cats, you might wish to make sure that they have sufficient space inside to play and move around, or can occasionally be let outside.

Get your pet on a healthy diet

Make sure that your pet consumes a recommended, balanced diet. By feeding your pet sufficiently nutritious meals, certain issues such as diabetes or weight problems can potentially be avoided.

Try to pick up on issues early

Address problems at their root cause, or address them early. Rather than postponing treatments because they seem expensive or because you are in fear of making your pet suffer, address illnesses and injuries early in order to prevent them from becomes more severe, and more expensive to treat down the line.

The pros and cons of insuring your pet for life

Keeping these things in mind can help you save on your pet insurance

PROS

Peace of mind

Peace of mind that your pet is insured right now.

No nasty surprises

Protection from unexpected, large expenses.

Assurance

Guarantee of coverage in old age.

Young coverage

Receive insurance for your pet in its younger years

CONS

Possible underutilisation

No claim may be made for years, thereby wasting premium payments.

Locked in

Other, superior options might arise while you are already insured.

Overall cost

Savings made by no premium payments can form a lump sum to cover forward expenses.

Faqs to help you compare pet insurance

We’ve got you covered with answers to some of the common questions

Is pet insurance worth it?

For the majority of pet owners, pet insurance is absolutely worth it for several reasons, the first of which is peace of mind. Making sure that your pet will be looked after at all times is a priority for all pet owners, and by taking out a comprehensive policy for the lifespan of your pet, you can live with a high level of confidence that your pet will receive all of the care it needs to live its best life.

Furthermore, taking out a pet insurance policy can be a very prudent financial decision, as it allows you to plan your finances with more certainty, knowing that the majority of unexpected, large costs associated with your pet will be covered by your policy. This allows you to account for your premium in your monthly budget and to manage the cost of having a pet with much more efficiency and ease.

What is the best pet insurance in Australia?

Each insurer will offer different services which are more suitable to some pet owners than others. For example, company A might offer excellent coverage for exotic pets and horses, whereas company B might provide the best policy for routine care for dogs. As far as the best, most thorough coverage for your pet goes though, insuring your pet from a very young age with a comprehensive policy will give you the best overall coverage, and also ensure that your pet can remain insured as it enters its old age.

Do I have to pay an excess on my pet insurance?

Pet insurance as a general rule does not come with excess, as most policies offer coverage in the form of reimbursements as a percentage of the total cost after the fact. Some particular insurers do offer coverage with excess though, which in exchange for a higher monthly premium offers customers the peace of mind that they will not be expected to come up with a large lump-sum amount to pay for treatments while they await reimbursement. These excesses are generally paid on a per-claim basis, and should cover multiple treatments for the same condition, as opposed to being applicable to each vet visit to treat the same issue.

What is the cost of pet insurance for a dog?

The cost of insuring your dog will vary depending on the level of coverage you wish to take out, as well as whether you choose to keep your premiums lower in exchange for lower reimbursements down the line. Perhaps the most significant variable here, though, is the breed of your dog. Certain dog breeds are notoriously susceptible to health issues. Breeds that you can expect to pay a higher premium to insure include Great Danes, Poodles, Pugs, and Grey Hounds. More affordable breeds to insure include cross-breeds and smaller dogs such as Chihuahuas and Whippets.

How much does it cost to get pet insurance for a cat?

Much like with dogs, the cost of insuring your cat can differ depending on the policy type you are looking for, but also on the breed of your cat. While the price extremities between certain cat breeds are less severe than with dogs, breeds such as Persians, Burmese and Abyssinians will fetch a higher premium than the likes of a Tabby cat.

Can I insure exotic animals?

Non-native and exotic animals such as ferrets, turtles and lizards can still be insured, however, you will find that you have a far more limited range of insurers to choose from when searching for a policy for these types of animals. You should also expect to pay a higher premium for exotic animal insurance, as the cost of veterinary care for these animals is generally higher and access to it is scarcer.