Pet Insurance increases raise some serious questions…

Over the past few months, we have received numerous feed back from clients that their pet insurance premiums have increased dramatically, even doubled in some cases, compared to the previous year. This has been across multiple insurers and policies.

According to an article release in 2016 by the AVA, Australians are spending more than $12.2 billion annually on pet products and services. This is an increase of 42% from 2013 to 2016. More than a third of that expenditure is on food ($4.2 billion), followed by veterinary services ($2.2 billion) and then other health care or general pet products. Expenditure by pet type has dogs leading the way at $7 billion, followed by cats at close to $4 billion.

Although the rate of pet insurance increased from 2013 to 2016, it is still not widely used, with only 26% of households with dogs and 19% of households with cats having insurance policies.

One of Australasia’s biggest pet and equine insurers, Petplan, has blamed pets living longer for dramatic increases in premiums. Please see link to full article below.

https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/insurer-blames-longer-living-animals-as-some-pet-policy-premiums-double-for-animal-owners-ng-b88635592z

You will find many forums where this is a hot topic across various social media platforms. Before you decide to jump ship to a new pet insurer, you should take a few things into consideration. Please see below for further details:

Cover for Life

Many policies are advertised as providing cover for life.  In reality this often means that they will insure your pet for life but doesn’t necessarily mean that they will cover chronic or recurring conditions for life. It often means that they will cover these conditions up to a maximum amount within one policy period after which they will be excluded.  A lot of the conditions we treat are chronic in nature and therefore it is important to choose a policy that will pay out on these for the life of your pet.

Major Exclusions

Exclusions vary between companies. All companies will exclude pre-existing conditions ( a pre-existing condition is any injury, illness, or irregularity noticed by you or your veterinarian before the end of your waiting period, even if your pet never went to see the veterinarian for it)  but other exclusions can include:

  • Diseases for which there is a vaccine, even if the pet is vaccinated.
  • Diseases caused by fleas and ticks. This is especially important to check as we see lots of cases of tick paralysis and flea allergic dermatitis.
  • Routine teeth cleaning is excluded by most companies, some companies will cover dentistry work where extractions are required.
  • Diagnostic testing if no conclusive diagnosis is achieved.

 

% of Claim Covered

This varies between companies. Some companies cover 100% of the claim minus any fixed excess, other will only pay a percentage of the claim (70-80%) with or without a fixed excess as well.

Accident and Illness

Some companies have separate accident and illness polices. If you are considering taking out insurance then it is advisable to insure your pet for both accident and illness.

Age of Pet Insured

Most insurance companies will not insure older pets for the first time for illness cover.  The cut off age varies between companies but is usually 8-9 years of age or younger for selected breeds.

Waiting Period

This is the period of time between taking out the policy and cover commencing.  Accident cover is generally immediate.  Waiting periods of 21-30 days are usual for illness cover and cruciate ligament conditions can have a waiting period of 6 months.

Bilateral Conditions

Bilateral condition are those conditions affecting a body part of which the pet has two such as eyes, ears, knees.  The relevance of these conditions is that when excluding conditions from your cover, bilateral conditions may be classed as one condition and therefore only one annual maximum limit may apply.

Annual Maximum Benefit

This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay in each policy period.  Some companies also apply annual or lifetime sub limits for certain conditions such as tick paralysis and cruciate ligament disease.

 

Choosing an insurance policy can seem daunting at first but having the right policy for you and your pet provides peace of mind when it comes to unexpected vets’ fees.

If you are concerned about whether your current policy will be affected, please call your pet insurer to discuss and ensure you have thoroughly read and understood your policy, including the fine print.

Unfortunately, we cannot speak on behalf of any pet insurance company and any questions raised about increasing premiums, must be pursued directly with the insurer.