Is your furry friend protected? Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. In fact, 62% of Australian households own pets with dogs being the most common. Pets can be a great source of companionship, not to mention cuteness, but they’re also expensive.
You have to pay for food, shelter, toys, and, of course, vet expenses. Adopting animals is a fun way to grow your family, but you need to make sure you have a plan in place to afford their care long-term.
The most expensive component of owning a pet is veterinary care. Not only do you have one-time pet expenses like spaying or neutering, but you also have annual pet medical expenses like vaccinations, yearly exams, and more. Not to mention, if your pet has an emergency, this could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars for treatment.
You love your furry friend, so what’s the solution to these neverending costs? Pet insurance is the only way to make sure you’re protected not only against those regular expenses, but also unexpected emergencies. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about pet insurance in Australia so you can make the right financial decision.
What’s the Cost of Owning a Pet?
First, let’s talk about the costs of owning a pet so you can see how this will fit into your budget. Dogs, cats, and other pets are a large commitment financially. You’re agreeing to cover all the costs to maintain and care for your pet, and sometimes this can be expensive. The average cost of a dog is over $1000 per year, but let’s break down those costs:
- $622 a year on food
- $397 for vet care
- $248 on health products
- $129 for grooming
- $86 for boarding
This is just a best-case scenario. If your pet experiences an emergency, this cost will only rise. Because all of these expenses add up quickly, it’s important to really consider whether owning a pet is right for you and whether you can afford it. It’s worth talking to a financial expert before making such a big, life-changing decision.
What is Pet Insurance?
So what is pet insurance? It’s very similar to private health insurance, but it’s for your pet. Pet insurance only usually covers care for cats and dogs, but you might be able to find another insurer that covers other types of pets.
When you buy pet insurance, you’re buying a yearly insurance policy. Most policies have limits on what’s covered on a yearly basis and for what conditions. If you go over this limit, you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket.
There are three types of coverage options:
- Accident Coverage – This type of coverage will only cover costs if your pet experiences an accident, such as a broken bone or a wound.
- Accident and Illness Coverage – Next, this type of coverage offers assistance with both accidents and illnesses.
- Comprehensive Coverage – Finally, comprehensive coverage covers things like routine care, vaccinations, accidents, and illnesses.
You can choose the plan that makes sense for your needs. Some pets are more at risk for illness and disease than others, so talk to your vet about the best option for you. The average cost of pet insurance is $293 for dogs and $246 for cats, and this can be much more affordable than paying for ongoing medical costs, especially if there’s an emergency.
What Pets Are Eligible For Insurance?
Not all pets are eligible for pet insurance coverage. First, there are usually age limits. You likely won’t be able to purchase a new policy for an older pet (any pet over 7 years old). Even if you have insurance currently, you probably won’t be able to switch providers once your pet reaches this age.
In addition, there are usually restrictions on which breeds can be covered. If your pet’s breed is prone to more health problems or they’re deemed high-risk for aggression, you might not be able to find a provider.
What Doesn’t Your Pet’s Insurance Cover?
Finally, it’s important to understand what pet insurance doesn’t cover so you can be prepared. Most policies have limits and won’t cover 100% of treatments. Each policy will have a list of exclusions or things that aren’t covered. The most common exclusions are:
- Illness or problems from pre-existing conditions
- Elective treatments (like orthodontics or routine care)
- Treatment during the policy’s waiting period (usually several months)
- Treatment for diseases with an existing vaccine
However, when choosing your policy, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to ensure you’re budgeting all of your expenses. As we’ve established, those costs can add up fast.
Is Pet Insurance Right For You?
Pet insurance is a great way to keep your furry friend protected. However, make sure you know exactly what coverage you’re paying for. It’s easy to think your vet coverage will pay for 100% of all treatments, but that’s rarely the case. That being said, it can still be an affordable way to cover most treatment for your pet.
While nobody wants anything bad to happen to Fido or Chairman Meow, having pet insurance can offer significant peace of mind in case of emergency or illness. Are you considering pet insurance or adding a pet to your life? Start with your budget. Owning an animal is a big financial commitment and you don’t want to fall into debt to keep your furry friend healthy.
The friendly professionals at Debt Busters have over 15 years of experience helping Aussies manage their own budgets. From planning for pet expenses to searching for the right pet insurance, talk to our experts today on 1300 368 322 to make sure you’re ready for anything.