I learned the hard way with pet insurance. Being a pet nutritionist I was confident my dog would remain in excellent health, but at the age of 5 he fell fowl of the cruel disease lymphoma, so nothing to do with diet. From when he was diagnosed to the day he fell asleep in my arms I spent almost $15k in treatment.
And no, I didn’t have that money spare in my bank account.
In this guide to pet insurance in Australia we’ll take a look at why you may need pet insurance, tips to keep the cost down, and I’ll recommend who I’m insured with and why.
- Do I need pet insurance?
- What percentage of Australians insure their pets?
- Is pet insurance in Australia expensive?
- The average cost of pet insurance in Australia
- How to save money on pet insurance
- UPDATE: ASIC Puts a Stop Order on Hollard Insurance (June 2023) – Around 80% of Australian Pet Insurers
- What pet insurance policy do I have, and why?
- Other pet insurance providers in Australia
Do I need pet insurance?
It’s a question with no simple answer. We all have our own personal situation, pets of various ages and health, and of course finances play a big part.
Generally speaking, pet insurance is a good idea if you can afford it, especially when you consider the potential cost of veterinary care when things go wrong.
Here are average veterinary costs for some common issues affecting Australian pets in 2022:
- Snake bite – between $1,000 and $23,000.
- Tick paralysis – between $1,000 and $23,000.
- Lymphoma (a common cancer in Australia) – between $2,000 and $15,000.
- Skin allergies – between $1,000 and $7,000.
These figures, compiled by Statista, merely highlight the financial costs, not the emotional costs when your pet suffers such an illness or accident.
Pet insurance can help you pay for unexpected vet bills in the event of any of the above. This can be a lifesaver if you’re unable to cover the costs yourself.
Some insurance policies also reimburse some of the costs of routine care, vet visits, and vaccinations.
Ultimately, whether you take out pet insurance depends on your personal situation, but if you can afford it, it’s worth doing.
What percentage of Australians insure their pets?
According to a recent report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 61% of households in Australia own a pet. Of these households, only 30% of dog owners have pet insurance, and 21% of cat owners. We have around 30 million pets in Australia, so that’s a lot insured, and millions which aren’t.
Is pet insurance in Australia expensive?
A common gripe with pet insurance is cost. So let’s take at the reasons why:
First off, the cost of pet insurance in Australia is aligned with the rising cost of veterinary care. In recent years new technologies and treatments have been developed, which despite being very effective also come at a greater cost.
Most pet insurance policies reimburse a large percentage of these costs, so these are factored in to your monthly premiums.
As treatment is so costly for pets who need it, the insurance companies need to divide the cost among all policy holders. That means your premiums may cover the cost of others, but if the worst happens to your pet then you’re covered.
For another perspective, let’s take a look at what most Australians spend on pet insurance, and find out if it’s really as expensive as you may think.
The average cost of pet insurance in Australia
According to Moneysmart, the average cost of pet insurance in Australia sits between $20 to $60 per month, which equates to as little as $240 per year, to $720 a year. To put that into perspective, the average yearly cost of veterinary expenses is $450, and that doesn’t include flea, tick, or worming treatments which some policies cover.
When you look at it that way, it makes more sense protecting your pet against health risks by taking out an insurance policy, and some of those policies additionally cover you for routine care.
How to save money on pet insurance
The cost of pet insurance depends on a variety of factors, including the type of pet, your location, and the amount of coverage you need. The amount of coverage you take out directly affects the cost of the policy.
One way to keep the cost of pet insurance down is to choose a policy with a high deductible (excess). This means you’re more out-of-pocket if your pet needs medical care, but your monthly premiums can be much lower.
There are various types of policy available, so do your research and find one which best suits your needs. Some policies offer comprehensive coverage while others may only cover certain types of treatments or illnesses.
Another way to keep the cost of pet insurance down is to enroll in a Wellness Plan. These programs are available from some vets and pet stores and help pay for routine wellness care such as vaccinations and check-ups. By enrolling in one of these programs, you can save money on your pet insurance policy.
Shopping around for the best deal on pet insurance is well worth doing, but make sure you read the small print and know what you’ll be covered for.
UPDATE: ASIC Puts a Stop Order on Hollard Insurance (June 2023) – Around 80% of Australian Pet Insurers
Please note: On 29th June 2023 ASIC issued 38 DDO stop orders for pet insurance products that relate to 67 pet insurance products issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd and PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd.
This is inclusive of some of the insurance policies listed below:
The stop orders relate to pet insurance products issued by the insurers via brands including Woolworths, RSPCA, Petbarn, Guide Dogs, Medibank, Bupa and HCF.ASIC
Bow Wow Meow is also a Hollard Insurance Company product.
The reason for the stop orders is because these insurance policies are “pay upfront”, which means you must pay the full amount of medical treatment before submitting a claim for a partial refund. ASIC has stated concerns this type of policy hasn’t considered the financial situations of us as consumers, and how many policy owners may not be aware they will need to pay in full upfront.
Out of the below pet insurance companies, my top recommendation at the current time is PetsOnMe.
You can find more information on the ASIC media release, or view the following update from Sky News:
What pet insurance policy do I have, and why?
Note: Please consider the following “on hold” in respect to the above ASIC situation.
After losing my dog Archie to lymphoma a few years ago, I did a lot of research and decided to take out pet insurance with Bow Wow Meow for my other dog and cat. I haven’t looked back, the monthly premiums equate to a few coffees, and as it’s debited from my account just after pay day I barely notice it.
Bow Wow Meow
Here’s why I opted for Bow Wow Meow:
We didn’t know where to start so got a few quotes from major players, the likes of RSPCA and Woolworths. I wasn’t keen on the latter having found out my home insurance policy had risen over $100 year on year for five years despite zero claims (so much for customer loyalty!). RPSCA seem decent enough, but Bow Wow came in cheaper.
I found excellent reviews for Bow Wow Meow, and I found a lot of positivity from those who had needed payouts.
One lady, who’s dog had also been diagnosed with lymphoma, gave a glowing report. Bow Wow Meow had covered 80% of the cost of IV chemotherapy, and thankfully for her the dog was in remission and living a happy life. For most without insurance, the cost of IV chemotherapy is staggering, making the only financially viable option prednisolone as palliative care.
If you’re interested in taking out a policy with Bow Wow Meow then you can get a quote here.
Whatever pet insurance you have, no matter who the policy is with, it would be good to hear what you think and what experience you’ve had. Do you think pet insurance in Australia is worth the money, or too expensive? Say so in the comments below!
Other pet insurance providers in Australia
Here are a list of other pet insurance providers in Australia. If you have experience with any of these please say so in the comments, and over time I will update this list to hopefully benefit others:
PetsOnMe haven’t been around very long as an Australian pet insurance provider, but feedback so far has been excellent!
You’ll often find smaller companies provide a better service with more loyalty, and they’re the only pet insurance provider in Australia to offer 100% payout of eligible vets bills (minus your chosen excess).
If you’re keen PetsOnMe I have a special offer! Using this link you’ll get 2 months free for a pet under 1yr, or 1 month free if they’re older than a year!
We’ve all heard of RSPCA – they’re a pretty big company these days. It therefore comes as no surprise how many Australian pet owners opt for RSPCA for their pet insurance.
Feedback seems pretty good from most people with RSPCA cover, although it seems a few have hit hurdles when making a claim. In one example birth records were requested which the policy holder didn’t have, but this appears to be the exception rather than the rule.
When comparing pet insurance policies in Australia I found RSPCA to be slightly higher than others, but you should have some reassurance buying a policy from a fairly reputable company.
Pet Insurance Australia
Pet Insurance Australia are another big player and seem to have a good reputation, but from doing some digging it seems most positive feedback comes from the ease of setting up the policy, but there seems to be some negativity from those who’ve ran into complications making a claim. One long term customer mentioned the year on year increases in her premium, which seemed more excessive than her other insurance policies which rose more inline with inflation.
I’m sure most of us have heard of BUPA, being a premium private health care insurer. There doesn’t seem to be as much feedback as yet with their pet insurance, but what I did find was fairly negative. One pet owner mentions how BUPA took one vet visit as two separate claims, charging an excess for both. As a result, the reimbursement was a mere $6.56. Another pet owner speaks of how many excuses were made by BUPA for the first claim she made over a 2 year period, which resulted in her switching insurers.
There’s no denying Budget Direct offer competitive quotes, and this has been the case with their car insurance policies for many years. As yet there’s little consumer feedback, but what I could find was positive feedback about establishing the policy and the price, but again some hurdles in the event of actually making a claim.
Woolworths Pet Insurance
You may’ve read earlier the issue I had with my Woolworths home insurance, which year on year had a $100 price hike – so much for being a loyal customer!
It came as no surprise when I found many had complained about Woolworths pet insurance. Out of all pet insurance policies in Australia it seems to have the least consumer confidence.
Image: The cute little Border Collie “Maisy” in the image had an accident with a door at the age of 12 weeks. Thankfully she’s well on her way to recovery at the time of writing this. Just one of the reasons to have pet insurance, as accidents happen.