Compare Pet Insurance in Australia
Pet insurance can seem complicated, and It can take a while to get your head around the different options available to you. To help compare pet insurers and make the best decision for you and your pet, a good starting point can be to look at independent review sites like ProductReview.com.
|Star rating on productreview.|
|Provider||Annual benefit limit||Vet bill coverage limit||Excess options||Discounts||Tick paraysis cover||Emergency boarding||Other benefits|
|4.1||Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance||$8,000 to $12,000||80%||Nil – $500||10% for multiple pets||Free ID tag for life|
|1.7||RSPCA Pet Isurance||$7,000 to $11,000||70% or 80%||NIL||Multi-pet discount||Small % of premiums goes to RSPCA|
|1.9||HCF Pet Insurance||$8,000 to $12,000||80%||Nil – $200||10% for members|
|2.0||Medibank Pet Insurance||$8,000 to $15,000||80%||Nil – $200||10% for members|
|1.9||PetPlan Pet Insurance||$7,000 to $20,000||80% or 100%||$125 – $200 (plus 20% if over 9 years for standard breeds)|
|2.6||Bupa Pet Insurance||$6,000 to $20,000||80%||$0 | $100 | $200||10% for Bupa Members|
|2.3||Woolworths Pet Insurance||$5,000 to $12,000||80%||$0 | $200||10% off for Woolworths Rewards Members||$10 donation to PetRescue for each new policy|
|2.1||Real Pet Insurance||$8,000 to $12,000||75% or 80%||Nil||10% refunded in the first year|
|3.0||Prosure Pet Insurance||$8,000 to $14,500||80%||NIL||10% for multiple pets||Member privileges program|
|3.3||Petinsurance.com.au||$10,000||80%||Nil||10% for multiple pets||$10 donation to PetRescue for each new policy|| |
Note: This Compare Pet Insurance Australia guide does not represent all pet insurance brands available in the Australian market. Current as at 27/06/18.
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is a financial product that helps pet owners cover the risk of veterinary expenses resulting from accident and illness conditions in their dogs and cats. Pet insurance plans available in Australia cover anywhere from 65% to 100% of the vet bill (the majority cover 80%) and come with different inclusions, exclusions, excesses, annual benefit limits and sub-limits on certain conditions e.g. sub-limits on cruciate ligaments conditions.
Many pet owners question whether they need to take out pet insurance for their dog or cat. With the cost of veterinary care outstripping inflation and advances in available treatments, vet care for an ill or injured pet can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, particularly if the condition is chronic and ongoing. Unless you have savings to cover this, it can be very difficult to afford the best care for your dog or cat.
We find that the value of pet insurance is often realised by pet owners after they are faced with a large vet bill, and unfortunately this is often too late. You should also be aware that any condition that arises before you take up pet insurance is considered to be pre-existing, and will not be covered by pet insurance in the future.
Types of pet insurance cover
When researching pet insurance products in Australia, we recommend getting an understanding of what is covered by the different types of products on the market.
While the product names and benefit amounts may change, the main types of pet insurance cover are generally as follows:
- Accident only cover– the most affordable option to cover you for accidents and emergencies. These policies cover harm or injury caused by accidents, such as; accidents involving burns, broken bones, snake bites, allergic reactions to insect bites or bites from other dogs or cats.It is important to be aware that this type of pet insurance cover is limited as you won’t be covered for illnesses. Note that certain conditions such as patella luxations, elbow dysplasia, fractured teeth, toxicity (other than that from a snake bite and intervertebral disc disease or IVDD) are only covered under illness policies. Pre-existing conditions are also excluded.
- Comprehensive cover – this includes illnesses as well as accidents, and will provide you with a more wide ranging cover. For Bow Wow Meow policies, this includes our Comprehensive and Major Medical plans. Minor as well as major conditions are covered which would include anything from skin conditions and ear infections to cancer, diabetes, broken bones and hereditary conditions, along with chronic conditions which are covered for life (as long as the policy is maintained). Note that any pre-existing conditions and diseases where there is a known vaccine are excluded.
- Routine care– this additional cover provides assistance with costs for routine items such as vaccinations and micro chipping. Bow Wow Meow offers this as an optional extra on any Accident and Illness policy. For details relating to this, please read more here.
Things to look out for
When comparing pet insurance companies, it is important to look out for a number of key variables which affect pricing, customer service and claims. We have explained each of these below.
- Limits for older pets
Just like for humans, older pets who haven’t been insured previously may be harder and more expensive to insure. Most pet insurance providers have no upper limit on taking out accident only cover. Comprehensive Plans that include illness usually have to be taken out before the pet turns 9 years old. Generally speaking, so long as your pet’s cover started before they turned 9, and hasn’t lapsed since, your cover can continue for the life of the pet. Some brands, for example PetPlan, have lower upper age limits depending on the breed and product.
- Percentage of vet bills covered
The percentage of bills covered differs considerably when comparing pet insurers in Australia, with some insurers providing rebates of 65%, 75%, 80%, 85% or up to 100% of eligible vet bills. Note that although some pet insurers may say that they provide 100% cover, there is always a per-condition excess payable, which means that you will not actually get 100% of your vet bill back. Most insurers, including Bow Wow Meow, cover 80% of eligible vet bills.
- What is a co-payment and what is a benefit rate?
This follows on from point 2 above. The co-payment is simply the portion that is required to be paid by the insured customer when claiming. For example, if the percentage of the bill covered is 80% (often referred to as an 80% benefit rate) on a $500 vet bill, the co-payment portion is $100 which is equivalent to 20% of the $500 vet bill. If there is an excess, the co-payment as well as the excess will need to be paid. Please see the following example of how the co-payments work with or without an excess:
Example 1: 80% benefit rate (20% co-payment) without an excess
Example 2: 80% benefit rate (20% co-payment) with a $200 excess
- What are the maximum annual payable limits?
This is the total maximum amount that will be paid out for each policy within the annual policy period. Bow Wow Meow has the choice of a lower $8,000 annual benefit limit or a higher $12,000 annual benefit limit. Some insurers do offer as much as $20,000 in annual benefits, however, this level is very rarely reached (but can be very handy if your pet has a chronic illness).
- What are sub-limits?
A few health conditions have payment sub-limits, which means they are not covered up to the full annual benefit limit. This applies for most pet insurers in Australia. Here are some examples of sub-limits which are common to most policies when you compare pet insurance in Australia:
|Condition||Annual benefit sublimits|
|Cruciate Ligament conditions||$2,600|
|Tick paralysis||$500 or $1,000 (depending on policy)|
- Is there continuous cover for chronic conditions?
When you compare pet insurers, it is important to find out whether chronic conditions are covered for the life of the policy. Once your pet is insured, Bow Wow Meow guarantees to cover all chronic conditions for the life of the pet up to the annual benefit limit each year (as long as the condition was not pre-existing), provided you renew your policy each year without any break, lapse or change in the level of cover.
- What is a pre-existing condition
A pre-existing condition is an illness or injury that occurred before the policy started or within the first 30 days of the policy start date. It is important to note that if the pet has shown any clinical signs of a condition either prior to cover commencing or within the 30-day waiting period, it is considered a pre-existing condition.
Pet insurance is designed to protect against unexpected future occurrences and therefore won’t cover anything that is pre-existing. At Bow Wow Meow, we understand that something may have happened to your pets prior to obtaining a pet insurance policy and we give you the ability to apply to waive a pre-existing condition after 18 months of continuous cover, provided that your vet can verify that there have been no clinical signs of that condition for the full 18 month period.
- What are your excess options?
When taking out a new policy, you need to consider what level of per-condition excess payments you are comfortable with. This excess is the amount that is deducted from the first eligible claim that is treated for a specific condition within the period of cover. If your pet has multiple treatments for the same condition, you will only be required to pay one excess in each policy year for that condition. Bow Wow Meow provides a range of excess options which will help you with pricing considerations. The options we offer are as follows: $Nil, $100, $200 and $500.
- Discounts for multiple pets
Not all pet insurers offer discounts on multiple pets, and those that do may only offer 5% off the second and subsequent pet/s. Bow Wow Meow offers a 10% discount on premiums for the second and other pets.
- Routine care cover options
In line with our flexible options, we offer Routine Care cover as an optional extra. We provide this as an option as many other pet insurers may include it already as part of the policy package. You will then have no option but to have it included at a higher premium even though you may not want it.
- Pricing, ability to pay claims & service levels
For most people, pricing plays a role in the purchase decision. However, it is important to balance pricing with cover options, ability to pay claims and service levels when comparing pet insurance providers. Bow Wow Meow is proud of our high customer service standards. We currently pay 85% of eligible claims within 5 working days and 95% of eligible claims within 10 working days, following receipt of all requested documentation. Comparing customer review sites are a good way to get a feel for this and we encourage you to read through both the positive and negative reviews.
- What isn’t covered
Unfortunately, all insurance policies come with exclusions. This is necessary as insurance companies need to balance the cost of providing an insurance versus a particular risk. It is possible to cover everything, however, the cost to provide this would simply be unaffordable and the product would not sell. Underwriters need to strike a balance between premium and cover so that a viable product can be brought to the market. In terms of pet insurance; cover depends if you have an Accident Only policy or an Accident & Illness policy and if you included Routine Care or not. Accident Only policies as the name describes only covers Accidental Injury conditions. Please also refer to Accident Only cover under the heading “Type of pet insurance cover” mentioned above which describes some of the exclusions.
When you compare pet insurance policies, you will also notice that Illness cover excludes the following: an illness caused by endoparasites such as worms or ectoparasites such as ticks and fleas, although tick paralysis is covered up to the sub limit stated on the certificate of insurance.
Treatments that could be prevented with vaccines such as canine hepatitis, parvovirus and all forms of kennel cough for dogs and chlamydia, feline immune deficiency and all forms of flu for cats are not included in cover. It is useful to know that if your dog or cat was vaccinated but still comes down with one of the listed conditions, you may have recourse against the manufacturer of the vaccine. There are other exclusions such as more than one incidence of swallowing a foreign object that causes a blockage or obstruction requiring surgical removal in a policy period as well as declared pandemic diseases. Any elective or cosmetic surgery as well as alternative cover (unless specifically stated) is also not covered by most pet insurers in the market. When you compare Pet Insurance policies in Australia, we suggest reading through the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) so that you can understand exactly what is and isn’t covered.
How much does pet insurance cost?
The table below may be a useful starting point to compare pet insurance in Australia. The table, sourced from Canstar, shows average annual premiums for different dog breeds and different ages in 2016. The amounts shown in the left axis are dollars of premium paid per $1,000 of annual benefit limit.
Source: Canstar Pet Insurance Star Ratings, 2016
For more details on the average cost of a Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance policy and how our premiums are calculated, please click here.
What affects the pricing of pet insurance?
There are a number of factors that affect the pricing of pet insurance premiums. Some of these you can control when setting up your policy. These may include include policy type, level of excess, benefit rate, annual benefit limit and optional extras such as Routine Care.
The following are the other main variables that impact premium, over which you are less likely to have control:
- Pet type, species and breed: There is a considerable difference in risk grading between dogs and cats. Risk grades vary considerably in dogs, with breeds classified from low to medium or high risk, depending on their propensity for illness. This can lead to a substantial difference in premiums across the various dog breeds. Cats, on the other hand, are generally in the same risk category and tend to be on the lower risk scale and therefore more affordable to insure.Some insurers also categorise dogs and cats under a different “types”, such as small breed dog, medium breed dog, large breed dog, unknown breed dog and house cat. However, there are many flaws in this method of risk assessment as, for example, small breed dogs can be more susceptible to certain illnesses than larger dogs. Bow Wow Meow relies more on breed type when assessing the risk factors, as this is based on historical data and is a more accurate way of allocating risk.
- Post code: Since the cost of running a veterinary practice varies across different geographic locations, vets tend to charge different amounts depending on where they are located. The state and suburb you live in therefore makes a difference to the cost of your vet bills and therefore the cost of your premium.
- Age of pet: The age of the pet at policy inception is a major factor in determining the pet’s premiums. Kittens and puppies are generally at higher risk of accidents when compared to older pets. As pet mature and reach their senior years, the risk of illness increases in for both dogs and cats. Age type is generally broken down as follows:Puppy and Kittens: > 1 year
Young: <1- 5 years
Mature: 5 – 9 years
Senior: < 9 years
- Age of pet owner and claim history: Insurers have seen trends in claiming patterns based on the age of the pet owner, with differences in claiming patterns between different age categories. Your claim history can also have an impact on premiums.
Why is it important to compare pet insurance options before you sign up?
It is easy to sign up with a pet insurance company for a new policy, and this can usually be done instantly online. However, you should be aware that once you have made any claims on your pet insurance policy, it can be difficult to move to another provider. This is because a new provider will classify any condition claimed as pre-existing, and this condition would therefore be deemed not claimable in the future (this is applicable for all pet insurance policies in Australia). This is something to be aware of if you do decide to move to another pet insurer in the future.
It therefore makes sense to take the time doing a thorough pet insurance comparison at the start. Choose a provider that will cater for your needs in terms of cover and pricing – for both the short term and as your pet ages (as this is when cover is needed most).
At Bow Wow Meow, we do recognise that pre-existing conditions may lock you in with other insurers, even if you want to leave. We therefore allow you to apply for pre-existing conditions to be waived provided there are no signs of that condition/s for 18 continuous months, from when you commenced your policy with us.
We are also proud of our excellent customer ratings and believe that reading reviews from real customers – both good and bad – is a valuable way to help you compare pet insurance options in order to make an informed decision. You can read hundreds of independent customer reviews on ProductReview.
Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance is underwritten by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd, Australia’s leading pet insurer, which makes us just as safe and secure as any of our competitors. Since our launch, more than forty thousand pet owners have found the benefits, options and costs of our pet insurance policies to be attractive. We hope you do too.