Pet insurance has become increasingly popular in Australia over the past decade, as pet owners seek to protect themselves against expensive vet bills. With advanced veterinary care, procedures such as surgery, x-rays and hospitalization can cost thousands of dollars, making pet insurance a worthwhile investment for many pet parents. But how much does pet insurance actually cost in Australia? What factors determine the price? And what level of cover do you get for your money? This comprehensive guide examines the ins and outs of pet insurance in Australia.
What is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is a policy that helps cover the cost of veterinary care for your cat or dog. It works similarly to health insurance for humans, where you pay a monthly premium in exchange for financial assistance with medical expenses like:
- Surgery and hospitalization
- Diagnostic tests like x-rays, MRIs and CT scans
- Prescription medications
- Treatment for accidents and illnesses
- Some policies also cover routine preventative care like vaccinations and dental cleaning
Pet insurance can reimburse policyholders for 80% or more of eligible vet bills, providing significant savings especially in emergency situations. Policies have annual caps on the maximum amount they will pay per year, typically ranging from $10,000 to $30,000.
Cost Impact Factors
The cost of pet insurance in Australia can vary widely, with premiums ranging from $15 to $150 or more per month. Some key part that influence the price include:
Age of Pet
Younger pets are cheaper to insure, with premiums increasing as they get older. This is because older pets are more prone to illnesses and chronic conditions that require expensive care. Insuring a puppy or kitten is around half the cost of an elderly pet.
Certain dog and cat breeds with more health problems like French bulldogs and Persian cats are more costly to insure. Cross breeds are generally cheaper.
Where you live will impact the cost, as vet charges differ by state and region. Treatment in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne often costs more.
Comprehensive policies with higher annual caps and more inclusions like dental or routine care cost more in premiums. Basic accident-only cover is cheaper but has more exclusions.
You can lower premiums by choosing a higher excess, which is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before coverage kicks in. A $700 excess could halve your annual payments compared to a $200 excess.
Policies with higher maximum payouts per year cost more but give greater protection in the event of major vet bills. Lower sums insured reduce premiums.
Average Pet Insurance Costs
Now that we understand the main variables affecting price, what are typical costs for pet insurance in Australia? Here’s an overview of average monthly and yearly premiums:
For dogs under 3 years old with mid-range coverage, expect to pay:
- Small breeds (under 10kg): $30 – $60 per month, or $360 – $700 per year
- Medium breeds (10 – 25kg): $40 – $70 per month, or $500 – $800 per year
- Large breeds (25 – 40kg): $50 – $90 per month, or $600 – $1000 per year
- Giant breeds (over 40kg): $70 – $120+ per month, or $800 – $1500+ per year
This is based on a policy with around an $8000 annual cap, 80% reimbursement and $500 excess.
For cats under 3 with similar coverage, average monthly costs are:
$20 – $40 per month, or $250 – $500 per year
Purebred cats like Persians or Ragdolls may cost up to $50 – $70 per month. Budget around $30 per month for moggies.
Additional Cost Considerations
Emergency care, like after hours vet visits, often has a higher reimbursement rate up to 100%
Once pets reach 8+ years old, premiums may rise 20% or more per year
Optional extras like dental illness coverage add around $10 – $20 per month
So in summary, basic pet insurance for younger pets starts from $300 – $500 per year, but you may spend $1000+ annually for comprehensive cover on large breed or purebred pets.
Levels of Cover
Beyond just cost differences, pet insurance policies also vary widely in their levels of coverage and inclusions. Here are the main types of cover available:
This is budget pet insurance, covering just injuries and accidents like broken bones, bites, poisonings and so on. Illnesses are not covered, so it has significant gaps. However, premiums are lowest starting under $300 per year for dogs and cats.
Accident & Illness
The standard comprehensive option covers both accidents and common illnesses like ear infections, skin conditions, digestive issues and eye problems. This has moderately higher premiums but provides more complete protection.
Accident, Illness & Routine Care
A step above regular policies, this type also pays a portion of routine vet visits for grooming, vaccinations and preventative care. This keeps pets healthier long-term but comes at a higher cost.
Accident, Illness, Routine Care + Dental
The top tier coverage has all the above plus some coverage for dental treatments like tooth extractions, root canals and dental disease. These advanced policies cost the most but provide very thorough protection.
When comparing pet insurance policies, check what is excluded. Many have exemptions for pre-existing conditions, pregnancy and grooming. Always study the product disclosure statement to know your cover.
Top Pet Insurers in Australia
Now that we’ve weighed up pricing and coverage options, which companies offer the best pet insurance in the Australian marketplace? Here are some of the top providers:
Australia’s biggest pet insurer, PetSure accounts for over 60% of the market. They offer comprehensive accident and illness coverage starting from $30 per month with generous caps and reimbursements. They have excellent customer service and online claims.
A trusted brand in animal care, RSPCA pet insurance has been around for over 30 years. Premiums are affordable and all profits go towards helping abused and neglected pets. Their coverage options and caps are competitive.
A large health insurance provider, Medibank offers feature-packed pet cover with options for 80% or 100% reimbursement and a choice of annual payment limits. Customers benefit from their extensive experience in the insurance industry.
Another renowned health insurance company, Bupa provides very comprehensive pet policies with up to 100% accident reimbursement and dental illness extras for just $1 per month. Their premiums are towards the higher end but so is their cover.
Bow Wow Meow
Focused purely on pet insurance, Bow Wow Meow has some of the most flexible policies in Australia. You can customise your annual payment caps, reimbursement rates and more. Their customer service has won awards. Pricing is mid-range.
To recap the key points about pet insurance costs in Australia:
- Premiums can vary widely from $300 to $1500+ per year depending on age of pet, breed, location and cover
- Comprehensive accident and illness cover for younger pets starts around $500 per year for dogs, $300 for cats
- Top insurers like PetSure, RSPCA, Medibank and Bupa offer strong levels of protection and service
- Higher excesses, lower caps and budget cover reduces costs substantially but provides less security
- Always read the PDS and compare policy inclusions when choosing a provider
Getting pet insurance, while an added cost, provides valuable peace of mind and can save thousands in vet bills over your pet’s lifetime. It allows you to make healthcare decisions based on their needs rather than your wallet. With both premium and budget policy options, pet insurance can suit most pet parent’s budgets here in Australia.
How much does pet insurance cost in Australia?
The cost of pet insurance in Australia can vary widely depending on factors like your pet’s age, breed, and the level of coverage you choose. On average, basic coverage can start at around $20 to $30 per month, while comprehensive plans may cost upwards of $60 to $100 per month.
What does pet insurance typically cover in Australia?
Pet insurance in Australia typically covers veterinary expenses, which can include consultations, surgeries, medications, and hospitalization. Some policies also cover additional benefits like dental care, behavioral therapy, and alternative treatments. Be confident to check your policy for set coverage details.
Can I get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions in Australia?
In most cases, pre-existing conditions are not covered by pet insurance in Australia. These are health issues that your pet had before you purchased the policy. It’s important to review the terms and conditions of your chosen policy to understand what is and isn’t covered.
Are there waiting periods for pet insurance in Australia?
Yes, there are waiting periods associated with pet insurance policies in Australia. These waiting periods typically range from 30 to 90 days for illnesses and injuries. It’s important to be aware of these waiting periods when signing up for a new policy.
How do I make a claim with my pet insurance in Australia?
To make a claim with your pet insurance in Australia, you’ll generally need to submit a claim form along with supporting documents, such as vet bills. Most insurance providers offer online claim submission, making the process convenient. Make sure to follow your insurer’s specific claim instructions for a smooth reimbursement process.