With Dr Kevin Cruickshank BVSc, BSc(Hons), a South African trained (Onderstepoort) and qualified vet living and practising in Australia
How to Afford the Best Care for Your Pet
If I told you the most you'll ever have to pay at the vet for an accident or illness is $100, would you think that's a good idea? Well that's exactly what Pet Insurance can do for you. As we approach the end of the financial year don't we all wish we could have a few more dollars left in our pocket? Big vet bills never come at a convenient time. Private health insurance for pets can absorb those costs and make your budgeting so much easier.
While most people insure their car, home and contents, did you know that you are actually three times more likely to claim on a pet insurance policy than a car or home policy? Since there is no Medicare for pets, pet owners have to pick up the full cost of veterinary care. Sadly, all too often I see people having to make agonizing decisions for their pets due to the costs involved. With pet insurance, cost is taken out of the equation. That peace of mind is invaluable, and you can simply say “Do the best, I don't care what it costs ….. somebody else is paying!!”
As we are not licensed financial advisers, vets do not sell pet insurance, nor receive commissions, but are very happy to help inform you of the options. Pet insurance not only covers treatment in general practice, but referral to specialists too, as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractors.
So what should you look for in a Pet Insurance Policy?
Many home and contents policies now have an optional extra for pet cover. Frequently it is restricted to accident only and does not cover sickness. A specialised Pet Insurer is far better. Key points to look for are:
- Is the animal Covered for Life? Many companies will stop cover once the animal becomes elderly. Also some problems are ongoing, eg. Diabetes. Does the company keep paying year after year, or do they only pay out for 12 months and then exclude that problem?
- Look for a Fixed Excess. That is you pay the first $100 and the insurance company pays the rest. Most companies calculate the excess as a percentage of the total (30% of a $5000 bill is still a lot of money!) but there are policies available with a fixed flat excess.
- A policy without breed specific, or genetic exclusions, is far preferable.
- Look out for Sub-limits. It's far better to have a policy without any restrictive sub-limits.
If you don't already have it, I would really urge you to consider getting private health insurance for your pet. For a small monthly cost it can make a huge difference to their care and your peace of mind. If you consider that every 6 seconds a pet owner is faced with a vet bill of over $1000. Can you afford not to have you pet insured?