Why buy pet insurance? What you should know.
For many New Zealanders owning a dog is part of life, and they are part of the family. But it’s no secret that pets cost money and these costs can add up to considerable sums when something inevitably goes wrong and you need to visit the vet. Having pet insurance can take some of the burden away and ensure your pets get the care they need.
We worked with Petplan NZ to come up with an overview of the benefits of pet insurance for your cat or dog, and some things to watch out for. Keep in mind that all policies are different and benefits will certainly vary depending on which policy you choose.
What are some of the benefits of taking out pet insurance?
- Peace of mind:
Probably the number one benefit for taking out a pet insurance policy is peace of mind. In the event of an accident or emergency you can focus on getting the right care for your dog, rather than worrying about finding large sums of money at short notice to pay vet costs.
- Cover for emergency surgery:
Vet surgery is usually costly and requires a swift decision to operate. Emergency surgery cover allows you to choose the best option quickly.
- Financial certainty:
If you like to be able to budget for and manage your vet costs, pet insurance is a great way to do this. By paying regular premiums you are ensuring vet care can always be paid for and there are no nasty surprises.
What are some of the extra policy benefits you might be eligible for?
Aside from the main veterinary treatments you get with your pet insurance, some policies will have additional benefits that can be very useful should disaster strike. Please note that not all insurers offer these benefits so make sure you check policy wordings carefully.
- Lost or Stolen pets:
No dog owner ever wants to deal with losing a pet but if it does happen certain policies will cover costs for advertising, and can even cover a reward for the return of your pet (up to a set amount). They can also cover the price of a pet in the unfortunate event they don’t come home.
- Deceased pets:
In the sad instance of your pet passing away due to injury or illness your insurance provider may cover the purchase price of your pet.
- Boarding or Care fees:
If you get ill and need hospitalisation your pets may need to be boarded or cared for by somebody else, you can be covered up to a certain amount each year for costs involved in boarding and care.
- Cancellation of Holidays:
Some policies will even give some cover for recouping costs should your pet go missing or need urgent lifesaving surgery up to a week before or while you are away on holiday.
As well as the benefits it’s important to know what you won’t be covered for. Again, we strongly recommend you ask for, and read your policy document thoroughly before taking out insurance to make sure you are clear on what is and isn’t covered as our list below is not exhaustive.
What is not covered by pet insurance?
- Age related:
Pets will often need to be over 8 weeks old to get insurance cover. More importantly, pets over a certain age will often be excluded from cover unless there has been a continuous policy in place from before the pre-set cut off age. The important thing to note here is that a continuous policy normally means continuing your original policy with the same insurer, so choose wisely. Being lured in with the lowest price up-front doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll continue to get the best deal over the lifetime of your cat or dog.
- Pre Existing Conditions:
Normally pre-existing conditions are not covered by your pet insurance. Certain breeds are also susceptible to developing conditions such as hip problems and skin conditions and these are often excluded. Be sure to ask your prospective insurer about this if your breed is known for particular conditions.
- Lifelong illness and conditions:
Most insurers will only pay up to 12 months treatment or up to a maximum amount for a chronic condition. Once the limit is reached, cover for that condition ceases. You may be left with costs of veterinary care for the rest of your pet’s life or possibly having to make a financial decision to euthanise your pet. For example, Petplan is one of the only pet insurance providers in New Zealand that offers genuine ‘covered for life’ policies, meaning that chronic or ongoing illnesses and injuries are covered for life, as long as there is no break in cover.
- Elective Procedures and routine vet visits:
In a basic policy, procedures that are not illness or injury related such as de-sexing, grooming, microchipping, dental work, check-ups and preventative procedures such as vaccinations, flea and other parasite treatments are not usually included. Some insurers will however offer an extras policy whereby you can choose to include dental and day to day vet cover.
Our article shows that all pet insurance companies are different and will have a selection of varying policies that may or may not suit your needs . Our advice is to be clear on what you actually want and need cover for, and do your research to compare insurers. As with any insurance product, the devil really is in the detail.
Article written in conjunction with Petplan New Zealand. Animal Outfitters does not specifically recommend Petplan, and is not qualified/licenced to give advice on insurance products. We recommend you talk directly to an insurer to discuss your pet insurance needs.