Types of Coverage
Accident Only – Covers treatment for injuries, such as lacerations or a broken leg. These are usually the cheapest form of policy, have little or no waiting period, and no maximum age limit. However, these policies generally do not cover any treatment for illnesses or other medical conditions.
Accident and Illness – This is the most common coverage level, generally providing benefits for when your pet is sick or hurt.
Comprehensive – Accident and illness coverage, plus some benefits for routine care, such as vaccinations and worming. Many comprehensive policies also include higher annual benefit caps and/or reimbursement rates.
You should also know that there are a growing number of products – offered by some very well-known brands – that may look like pet insurance, but don’t actually provide coverage for treatment. They often are marketed as “wellness plans” or add-on products for other insurance policies.
Key Coverage Terms
Reimbursement Rate – This is how much your insurance plan will repay you for treatment costs. Most plans will reimburse you for between 70% – 85% of your eligible expenses.
Excess – The excess amount is excluded from the claim; it reduces the amount that you are reimbursed. For example, if you have a $200 excess and an 80% reimbursement rate, you would receive $80 on a $300 claim ($300 claim – $200 excess = $100 X 80% reimbursement rate = $80 payment). Some plans apply the excess only to the first time your pet is treated for an accident or illness (or the first time each policy year), while others apply the excess to every visit to the vet. Excess amounts usually range from zero to $200, with some plans allowing you to pick your excess amount.
Annual Benefit Limit – This is the most that you can be reimbursed in a year, for all claims. Caps range from $5,000 all the way up to $20,000.
Sub-limits – In certain situations, your total benefits will be capped at a much lower amount, such as for paralysis tick treatment or cruciate ligament surgery.
Pre-Existing Conditions – If your dog or cat was treated for an injury or medical condition before you purchased pet insurance, any further treatment is usually excluded from your coverage. Purchasing pet insurance when your pet is young can help keep this list of exclusions short, as older dogs and cats have generally made more visits to the vet for various ailments and injuries.
Waiting Period – When you buy a pet insurance policy, you are usually covered for accidents right away, but must wait several weeks before full coverage kicks in. Most plans require a 21 or 30 day waiting period before providing benefits for illnesses, and longer waiting periods may apply for cruciate ligament surgery.
Pet insurance can cost less than $30 per month all the way up to $100 or more per month. There is a wide range of factors that impact price. These include the type of policy, coverage levels, your pet’s breed, age and sex, your age and location, and GST and stamp tax. Some brands operate on thin profit margins, while others charge high markups.
It can pay to shop around! There is a comparison chart of prices and benefits for all pet insurance brands at http://top10petinsurance.com.au/compare-pet-insurance/
Many plans also have promotions for new customers, which are updated monthly at
Always make sure that you read the product disclosure statement before buying any insurance plan so that you understand what you are getting for your money!