FAQs about pet insurance for dogs.
Should I insure my puppy?
At Pittwater Animal Hospital we strongly recommend insuring all new puppies AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
We recommend pet insurance for several reasons.
- Puppies can be very expensive to purchase and can also be very expensive to treat.
- It is very worthwhile to add the cost of 12 months insurance as soon as you acquire your puppy.
- The first year of owning a puppy can be very costly.
- Puppies commonly have accidents and require orthopedic surgery – this can be very costly, perhaps $5-10 000.
- Puppies often eat unusual things. This can cause intestinal blockages which need major surgery that can cost $2000+.
- Any condition that a puppy has before being insured will be defined as a preexisting condition. A 10-week-old puppy treated for an itchy ear before getting pet insurance, or before the end of the insurance waiting period, will not be able to be insured for ear conditions FOR THE REST OF IT’S LIFE.
- In the first 12 months congenital problems are often revealed such a joint problems, breathing issues and long term skin problems. These surgical or medical problems can need expensive surgery or lifelong veterinary management. Insurance cover is invaluable in these dogs.
Which pet insurance company should I choose?
The major pet insurance suppliers in Australia are all underwritten by the same company – Petsure – Here is the list of companies.
Looking at the Petsure site you can look at all their different offerings including Woolworths and RSPCA that are very popular. Petsure policy claims can be processed at the vet directly online. There is also an option for the insurance company to pay for their part of large veterinary expenses such as major surgery with the gap only feature.
The original and “gold standard” pet insurance company is Petplan. The cover is different from the Petsure companies, the premiums are usually more costly but should certainly be in your comparison.
Newer pet insurance companies have been introduced to Australia such as Trupanion and Knose. These both have slightly different pet insurance plans and should be considered when you are researching which company to use.
How do I find out how much my pet insurance company will pay for treatment?
Pet insurers will have a clear payment schedule in their documents.
For large expenses such as major surgery it is very useful to contact the pet insurance company prior to the procedure. With an estimate from Pittwater Animal Hospital you can be told what your company will pay. Gap Only providers can arrange to pay the pet insurers part of the invoice before you pick up your pet.
My puppy has had several health issues. Can I get pet insurance now?
This is a very difficult question.
Pet insurance companies will deny claims for even the smallest sign of a pre-existing condition in the veterinary history. Often dogs that are first insured as young adults have so many pre-existing histories that the pet insurance company will rarely pay anything. This is where the bad name for pet insurance comes from and is extremely frustrating for pet owners.
Can I change pet insurance companies if I do not like mine?
This is an extremely vexed issue. Pet insurers are unlikely to allow you to carry any exemption for pre-existing conditions. If you change pet insurance companies please get written and very clear advice as to what conditions the new company will cover for your individual dog and what will be defined as a pre-existing condition before you cancel your original pet insurance.
What is the difference in veterinary care between insured dogs and uninsured dogs?
In all veterinary consultations your veterinary surgeon will recommend what is the best treatment for your pet. Treatment cost, medication, diagnostics and surgery all vary wildly depending on what your pet needs.
An unwell dog may be recommended a range of diagnostic tests, many of which turn out to be completely normal. These are not a waste of money as a normal test tells your veterinarian very valuable information.
The decision as to what level of treatment, diagnostics and surgery are given to your dog is often made easier for veterinarian and owner alike when your pet is insured. Veterinarians are aware and concerned about causing people financial hardship yet wish to recommend to best level of care.
For very concerning or complex problems there are now a number of veterinary specialist available who can give your unwell or injured pet a superior level of care. At Pittwater Animal Hospital once we refer your pet for specialist treatment we have no control over the cost of care. (Specialist costs are generally much higher than the charges at general veterinary hospitals.) The peace of mind of having pet insurance when your pet needs specialist attention can be immeasurable.
I have had pet insurance for several years and never claim anything. Should I keep my insurance?
Some dogs are healthy and robust and never seem to need much veterinary care. At Pittwater Animal Hospital we find that the most expensive years for your pet are the first and the last years of their lives.
Often clients will drop pet insurance after 1 to 2 years and self insure hoping to avoid any unexpectedly large expense such as specialist referral or cruciate surgery. Just remember once your policy lapses every small veterinary problem your pet has had in it’s life then becomes a pre-existing condition and starting pet insurance later on is likely to be an unrewarding experience.
Does pet insurance cover cruciate ligament injuries?
One particular benefit of pet insurance for middle aged dogs is that it will cover for cruciate ligament injuries as long as there is no exclusions for pre-existing lameness. Dogs of all sizes, but especially medium to large dogs, can tear their cruciate ligament in the knee during exercise, following a fall or just from wear and tear. Most pet insurance will cover a significant amount of the very necessary cruciate ligament repair surgery – which can be $5-6000.
Beware however, dogs have two knees and many pet insurance companies will only cover for one knee surgery per year and others will only cover for one knee surgery ever. READ THE FINE PRINT!