At Vetmed, we think of your pets not just as members of your family, but our family as well. We would love nothing more than to be able to provide your pets with the utmost medical care without ever needing to consider cost. But we all know that the world doesn’t quite work like that, and as heartbreaking as it can be for all of us, we know that sometimes we need to look at alternatives and compromises so that the best care can be provided in an affordable way. To help with provision of the right veterinary care, our clinics are seeing a trend towards pet insurance.
For people who are regular users of health insurance for themselves, pet insurance can seem like a bit of a ‘no brainer.’ For the rest of us, trying to understand if it is something that makes sense for our four-legged friend can be overwhelming. The pet insurance industry has only been around in Australia for just over 20 years, and whilst there are many brands offering pet insurance, they are all underwritten by just three providers, making it less competitive than it may initially appear, but no less confusing.
So how does it all work?
Like human health insurance, pet insurance works by helping to cover a percentage of the cost of eligible vet treatments for dogs and cats, usually up to an annual maximum amount, and there is usually an excess to pay. The claims process itself is not quite as streamlined as it is with humans and hicaps, requiring you to pay your bill at the vet first and then claim from your insurer, just like the old days with human health insurance.
How do you choose pet insurance?
There are so many different brands, levels, and types of pet insurance cover so it’s best to do your homework. The right cover for your pet will depend not only on the type of policy, but also on the breed, age, and medical history of your pet. You may decide you only want to cover your pet for accidents or extend that cover to illness or include extras like routine care, vaccinations, desexing and worming. Pre-existing conditions and sometimes hereditary conditions are excluded in many policies, so it is worth reading the fine print. Comparison websites such as Choosi, Choice and Finder can be helpful to try and compare apples with apples.
Is it just for older pets?
It makes sense that your pet is likely to need more vet care as they age, but it can be advantageous to start early. The younger your pet is, the less chance of a pre-existing condition, there are more policy options for younger pets (the options narrow dramatically once they are over 8 years old), and the younger the pet, the lower the cost of premiums. Of course, that means you will be paying for insurance for more years, so if you are calculating if pet insurance is worth it, it is important to look at the cost over time as your pet ages.
So, to insure or not to insure? That is a question that only you can answer, but hopefully this minor inquisition has shed some insight into the important considerations and has reduced the research load somewhat. For further information, our trusted team at Vetmed are professionals who truly care, and are always here to answer any questions you might have, and work together with you, providing the best care for your furry family member.