These are all very reasonable questions - so here are our tips for pet insurance:
Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It?
Yes! Pet insurance is fantastic - remember there is no such thing as medicare for pets. It is, however, important that you understand how it works and how it differs from human health insurance.
For example - no pet insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions - meaning if your pet has suffered an illness prior to you taking out a new policy, that condition will be excluded from your pet insurance policy for the lifetime of your pet. A good example is if a dog comes in with itchy skin and has to have extensive testing and treatment performed, and then after this time you decide to take out pet insurance, your pet will never be covered for any illness related to the skin in any way (and this extends to ear problems and even skin tumours that are unrelated to the original problem).
When Should I Take Out Pet Insurance?
As soon as you think about it! Most people put getting pet insurance off (after all - we all lead very busy lives!) but you must remember - as soon as your pet has a health problem getting insurance at that stage is too late. You simply won't be covered.
What Sort Of Cover Do They Offer?
All pet insurance companies offer three levels of cover - basic (injury only), injury plus illness (middle cover), and top cover. In our experience the best "bang for your buck" is middle cover, and then you can vary your excess accordingly. This will cover you for injuries and illnesses such as broken legs, vomiting, diarrhoea, pancreatitis and even spinal surgery if needed.
Will Pet Insurance Cover Vaccinations, Desexing, Flea Treatments and Dentals?
The short answer is no - even with so called "Top Cover" you will generally only be able to claim $50 - $100 per annum for items such as vaccinations and flea treatments. This is why we recommend the middle level of cover for pet insurance.
Will Pet Insurance Cover Emergency Vet Visits?
How Do I Sign Up?
Most companies enable you to do this online - right now! Otherwise you can telephone the company of your choice and they will commence a policy.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?
This really depends. As a general rule - dog insurance is more expensive that cat insurance, and there is some significant differences in prices between insurers. It is best to compare a few different companies and then choose the company that suits your needs and budget. For example - Woolworths Pet Insurance offers fortnightly payments and a 5% discount if you have a Woolworths Rewards card, and you can also add your pet to your own health insurance if you have private health insurance with HCF, Medibank or Bupa! After all, they are part of your family.
How Do I Make A Claim?
We will help you with this part - but it is pretty basic. Unfortunately there is no "HICAPS" for pets as yet. All you need to do is bring in a complete claim form (found easily online and we have all the major companies forms at Concord Veterinary Hospital) and we will sort the rest! There is a section a veterinarian must fill out and sign and then the documents are forwarded on to the insurance company, with any invoices or consultation notes as required by the insurance company.
The Insurer Has Asked For Further Documentation - What Do I Do?
Whatever you do - do not give up! We are only too happy to help with regards to supplying any additional paperwork or records your insurance company may require. It is all part of the service at Concord Veterinary Hospital!
Help! My Pet is Old or has had Many Health Problems Already - Is Insurance Worth it?
The short answer is - probably not. However - always contact the clinic before making a decision and we can advise you on whether or not it is worth taking out a pet insurance policy for older pets or pets who have already had a lot of illnesses or injuries. Often the best solution is to work out what you might pay in premiums per month (say $60 per month) and direct debit that money to an online savings account purely as an emergency pet fund in the unfortunate event that you might need it! You would be surprised how much money will build up over ten years, and as your pet gets older that is when you will need insurance or a financial back up the most.
I Have Had Pet Insurance For Over Five Years and Never Claimed - Should I Cancel My Policy?
No! As your pet gets older you may need this insurance. Just as with people - a lot of illnesses in pets begin as an animal ages, and if you cancel your policy you cannot pick up where you left off. It is similar to saying "I have never been broken into in my home, so I might cancel my home and contents insurance"!
We hope this pet insurance blog has been helpful - please remember that this is designed to be general advice only and Concord Veterinary Hospital cannot recommend specific policies or companies to our clients.