“Is pet insurance worth it?” is a question PD Insurance is asked all the time. Why? Because pet insurance isn’t too common amongst New Zealanders. You probably have insurance for your car, home, and maybe even your life – but what about your pets?
Despite New Zealand being a confirmed nation of animal lovers, Kiwis’ pets are typically underinsured. Our research shows the proportion of pet owners with insurance is 15%.
Here’s everything you need to know to decide for yourself whether pet insurance is really worth it for you and your furry family.
Is pet insurance worth it? What you need to know
The purpose of pet insurance is to give financial protection to owners in the case of a pet needing veterinary treatment. There are other benefits too, like a contribution to vaccinations, reward payment for a missing animal and third party liability for property damage. Depending on your pet insurer (PD Insurance *cough*).
By getting cover which will pay for treatment for an injured or sick pet, pet insurance can help owners avoid having to face the heart wrenching decision of treating their pet or putting them to sleep. It’s a financial decision no one wants to make.
Essentially, pet insurance gives you peace of mind that you can easily make decisions about a beloved pet’s treatment of illness or injury. Without money being the main motivator for your decisions.
There is, of course, no way of knowing whether your pet will be healthy, happy, and very rarely see a vet. Many pets manage to maintain good health, avoid long term physical conditions such as diabetes in dogs and cats and don’t have unlucky injuries.
However, many pets get into strife – no matter how careful their parent is. And sometimes it happens shortly after you adopt the pet.
A pet insurance policy protects you against the unpredictable. An unfortunate incident like your dog escaping through the gate and being hit by a car or your cat picking up an infection could cost a lot to remedy. In these cases, pet insurance would cover the bulk of the costs.
When you’re deciding if pet insurance is worth it, it can help to understand how pet insurance works, what it covers, and how much you’ll need to budget to pay for it. You might also want to check out the five top myths we’ve busted.
How does dog and cat insurance work?
There are a few types of pet insurances that you can choose from in New Zealand, and they all vary slightly. When you’re deciding whether pet insurance is worth it for you, knowing about the different types of cover is important.
Broadly speaking, below are the types of cover available.
- Accident/emergency only: This policy covers vet expenses in case your pet has an accident. It does not cover illness, only accidents. This is normally the most affordable type of cover but often has the lowest maximum benefit limit. This can be less than $1 a day.
- Accident and illness: This type of insurance provides cover for expenses relating to both accidents and illnesses. This is a more expensive option with a higher maximum benefit limit but doesn’t usually cover things like dental or routine vaccinations.
- Comprehensive cover: This policy usually covers vet costs for accidents and illnesses in addition to routine treatments (and sometimes dental). It is the most expensive type of cat insurance or dog insurance from $1.50 upwards a day. Also, it likely covers routine vaccinations and worming treatments.
Of course, the exact type of cover available can and does vary from insurer to insurer. And some companies will offer various add-ons. PD Insurance, for example, covers hereditary conditions in both our Classic and Deluxe plans. These plans also allow owners to add on ‘Wellness Benefits Package’ cover for things like vaccinations and boarding fees.
What does insurance cover and exclude?
As with most other types of insurance, there are limits in terms of what pet insurance covers and what it will exclude. Again, this will depend on the exact underwriting rules for each insurer you speak to, as well as your choice of cover and personal circumstances.
As stated earlier, normally, pet insurance will cover vet bills relating to accident or illness up to a certain monetary sum per year (called a ‘defined benefit limit’). The exact cover given depends on the policy that you choose, but comprehensive plans will often provide cover for everything from an emergency surgery after a car accident to treatment after a diagnosis of cancer, and even regular medication.
The pet owner will pay an excess per claim, similar to car insurance. This will be either a fixed fee or a percentage of the bill, and you may have the option to choose how much your excess is within a sliding scale. For example, with us you can choose a 10%, 20% or 30% excess. A lower excess will mean a higher monthly premium.
When shopping around for pet insurance, make sure to check what you’re covered for, as well as what is excluded. The product disclosure statement is where you’ll find all this goodness.
Common pet insurance exclusions
Most insurance policies will have some exclusions in order to prevent insurance fraud. When it comes to pet insurance, here are some of the most common exclusions:
- Elective or cosmetic treatments
- Pre-existing conditions (e.g. if a dog has diabetes before applying for cover, any diabetes-related claims will not be paid for)
- Behavioural problems
- Special diets or supplements
Usually, there will also be a waiting period or stand down period for some types of claims. These will vary from insurer to insurer. At PD Insurance, for example, there is no stand down period for accidents. However, a waiting period of 21 days applies for illness.
How much does pet insurance cost?
Often, cost is one of the deciding factors when it comes to if pet insurance is worth it for you. Vet bills can mount up very quickly in the unfortunate scenario that your pet suffers an accident or illness.
People often think pet insurance will cost a small fortune. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised to find you can get pet insurance for as little as a dollar per day, depending on the type of cover you choose. Even the most comprehensive plans might be cheaper than you think!
Often, people wonder about whether they could “self-insure” by saving what you would have paid into premiums and keeping it aside for a vet bill. This logic is problematic if your pet gets into an accident after only two months of saving, for instance – or if you know that your track record with savings isn’t great! You may also find your pet requires treatment that costs several thousand dollars (not uncommon) or even more… Can you save that much?
Decided pet insurance is a go? Get a quote!
Now you know that pet insurance can be lifesaving and doesn’t have to break the bank, why not get a quote online? Our pet insurance gives you a safety net, so that next time your puppy swallows something he shouldn’t, the vet bill isn’t top of your mind.
Is pet insurance worth it? Over to you
Do you have health insurance for your dog or cat? Is pet insurance worth it? Let us know why or why not in the comments!