Australians have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with around 33 million pets living in 8 million households1.
As far as spending on pets goes, dog owners for example, spend on average more than $25,000 per animal over an average lifespan2. This accounts for things such as purchasing the animal, buying toys and food, paying for vaccinations, getting annual check-ups and paying for ongoing flea and worming treatments.
Yet, despite our deep affection for our furry friends, only a fraction of owners3 have pet insurance to protect their pets in the event of serious illness or injury.
What is pet insurance and how much does it cost?
Pet insurance is designed to help you pay for large, unexpected bills in the event that your pet becomes seriously ill or injured and needs medical attention.
Costs vary depending on the type of insurance and your pet’s breed, age, size and even your postcode. For example, if you live near a highway or in an area where ticks are present this may affect the premium. Generally, you can expect to pay between $200 and $1,000 in premiums per year (this is based on a dog that is 3 years old)4.
This might seem like a lot…until you consider a common operation can set you back between $1,000 and $5,0005. Or even more in cases of treatment such as chemotherapy for cancer.
Types of pet insurance
There are three main types:
- Comprehensive – for injury and illness bills, as well as routine treatment (such as dental check-ups).
- Accident and illness – for accident, injury, sickness, illness or disease
- Accident only – for injury from an accident resulting in broken bones or bites from other animals, such as dogs, cats or snakes.
What else do I need to consider?
- It’s cheaper to insure your pet when they are young6 (because there are no pre-existing illnesses).
- Think about whether your animal is likely to develop medical issues due to their breed, eg. skin issues or arthritis which may need treatment later in life.
- Most vets want you to pay upfront and claim later. Insurance cover reimburses around 65% to 80%7 of the fee, so there is usually a gap to pay.
So…is pet insurance right for you?
Like all insurance, you’re buying peace of mind. If your pet is fit and healthy, you might not feel the need to have insurance. But later in life when dog’s illnesses tend to increase it may be something that will save you money and heartache.
And just remember that even a simple abscess infection from a cat fight can cost over $1,000. You just need to weight it all up and decide what’s right for you.
Once you have done all your research, you might want to consider setting up a dedicated savings account to help with your pet’s future medical bills. Or, you might want to use our budget planner calculator to work out if you can afford pet insurance premiums.
Either way, if you need help working out your finances, we’re here to help. Call us on 131 267 or speak to a financial adviser.
1 Australian Companion Animal Council Inc. http://www.acac.org.au/pet_care.html