Thursday, December 24, 2015

Pet insurance

About once a week someone in our facebook asks a question about Pet Insurance. Is it worth the money, which is the best provider, best plan, what's covered, how long does it take to get a claim processed and so on.

Do I need it?

The overwhelming response on long dogs facebook is YES!.

We realise pet insurance is not cheap. At this moment in time you're looking at around $40-60 month for comprehensive cover. That's not kibble over the long life of a dachshund.

The experience of many, many members is that it is well worth the expense. When dachshunds get sick they do it in epic style which means big bucks.
One of the most well known epic dachshund ailments is IVDD which can mean thousands of dollars in surgery costs, and follow up treatments. Antivenin for a snakebite costs between $1500-$2000.
Other expensive conditions to diagnose and treat include pancreatitis, allergies and then there are the raft of troubles these dogs seem to get themselves into by ingesting things they shouldn't (please read up on dangerous Christmas foods if you haven't already).
And so the list goes on.

The up side of insurance is that it increases your treatment options when something goes wrong.  In a highly emotional moment you won't have to make the decision based on your current finances (assuming you're covered for whatever it is that has come up).

Self insuring

Putting money aside for future vet bills is always an option, but you'll need to be in a position where you can access a lump sum if you need it (Hi Mum, it's your loving child here...). One of our wise heads recently said the less money you have, the more important it is to have insurance, and that is a sentiment many people who wish they'd had it would agree with.

When should I start?


As soon as possible. Most insurers will cover puppies from 8 weeks of age.
No insurer will cover conditions your dog has before you take up a policy, so the sooner you get insurance, the greater the chance you'll be covered for most things that will go wrong. 
If you are insuring an older dog you will need to provide a vet history. Some insurers will not cover dogs over a certain age.  This varies depending on policies so check the details.
If you're adding a rescue or rehomed dog into your family it is important to get as much information as you can to provide to the insurer.

Ok, so which insurer and which plan?


If you've decided pet insurance is a good idea (and I hope you have) then the next step is to wade through all of the different options. I can feel your excitement form here, but bear with me.
We can provide information based on the lived experience of our members, but because these things are constantly changing it is critical to check your facts and understand what is and and isn't covered by your policy of choice.
Be sure to check the details are current and fit your own situation by talking with insurers before signing up.
For example some policies will only cover your dog to a certain age, policies will have annual limits on various treatments and there will be waiting periods before your cover is active. In almost all cases puppies can be covered from 8 weeks of age. Some policies will give life time cover and others will reduce or exclude coverage for pets over a certain age. Some policies will cover alternative therapies and others won't.

Read the Product Disclosure Statement documents and ask questions about anything specific you're not sure about.  Be certain you understand any exclusions for the policy you go with.

Less than 5% of pet insurance claims are for accidents, so make sure the policy you choose covers illness as well.
Most insurers offer multi-pet discounts, so it's a good idea to cover all your furry family with he same company if you can.

Most of the insurers are backed by one of a small number of parent companies.

Based on member comments on facebook the insurers who get the best ratings by are;
  • PetPlan
    Offers policies with life time cover
    Members report good claims payment experiences
    Broad coverage of accident and illness (including IVDD at time of writing)
  • Medibank
    Members report good claims payment experiences
    Silver cover includes illness (IVDD is an illness)
    Silver cover has a 9 year age limit
    10% discount if you are a Medibank member.
    Bronze cover is accident only (Does not cover IVDD)
  • Woolworths
    Members report good claims payment experiences
    Standard and Comprehensive cover includes illness
    Basic cover is accident only (Does not cover IVDD)
Other honorable but less prolific mentions included Pet Insurance Australia, RSPCA, Real Insurance, Bow Wow Meow and BUPA.

BE AWARE: IVDD (disc rupture is an illness and not covered by any accident only policies. Those policies that offer basic or bronze coverage USUALLY do not cover illness and therefore IVDD.


What should it cost me?


Whatever we put here will be out of date as soon as we post it, so do shop around, but make sure you're comparing like for like in terms of what is and what isn't covered, and what, if any, excess applies to claims.

Know your facts


Make sure you know what coverage you have, who it is with and that it is current. In an emergency you'll need to make fast decisions.

Making a claim


If you're lucky you'll hand over all your hard earned cash and never have to claim any of it back. I know that sounds counter intuitive because you get nothing back for your money, but it does mean you have a happy healthy hounds who never had to go to the vet for anything more serious than vaccinations and a nail trim.  That's a big win in my book.

For the rest of us, at some stage you'll need to make a claim.  When you make your first claim the insurer will ask you for the pet's vet history, which your vet should be able to provide. The vet will also need to fill in the required paperwork for the specific issue you're claiming for, and depending on your vet that can take a little while.
In most cases you will need to cover the payment to the vet up front and then recoup the cost from the insurer.

Payment plans

Some vets and specialists offer payment plans.  Others, such as the very well regarded Rivergum, do not. There are third party services which may be worth looking at if you need to arrange finance in a health emergency.

More Information


  1. Hello
    I would like to say something about Dog Vet.Think about how much you like going to a doctor. The fact is, most people do not like this visit. By the same token, it only makes sense that dogs do not like going to the vet. When you add the fact this poor animal has to put their trust in a total stranger whom they cannot communicate with.For more helpfull information visit-dog vet


  2. Hey Sassy, I totally agree pet insurance should be a consideration every pet owners should make. The out of pocket cost can be too pricey for most families. Other than the 3 pet insurers you mention, I would throw in Bow Wow Pet Insurance into the mix. Other pet insurers you could also consider are Medibank and Bupa.