Pet Insurance 101: Why Having It Will Save You & Your Pet’s Ass

When you’re setting out to buy a pet, or you’ve been #blessed with a surprised kitty or puppy from your loved one/parent/some rich AF relative, one thing you need to be absolute certain of is how you’re going to save your pet’s ass – and your own – when that furry darling winds up at the vets.

It’s not even a matter of ‘if’ but when. Your playful puppy will very likely eat three socks and then get sick. Your cat will probably try and jump off the balcony at least once. Animals, like humans, can be excruciatingly dumb sometimes and so insurance is there to be a bit of a safety net.

PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke with the team from PetSure about the ins and outs of pet insurance, why it’s important, and what exactly it covers.

So, why should you get pet insurance? General Manager of Sales, Product & MarketingLeigh Mellor shed some pearls of wisdom.

The most obvious answer to that is the cost of veterinary care. I think a lot of Australians, a lot of people who get a pet spontaneously probably don’t consider how expensive that can get. 

To put it in context, the average claim for a surgical fracture last year was $2962. That’s a considerable amount of money. If a dog say ruptures a cruciate ligament, depending on the procedure, that can be a $3k-$5k episode. And usually if they do one, they’ll do the other one at some point after. The money does start to stack up.

This doesn’t even start to scratch the surface of vet trips for your pooch or kitty, either. Pet insurance also helps to cover things like regular checkups, vaccinations, worming and tick treatments, accidents, and sickness.

Leigh tells PEDESTRIAN.TV that if your pet is diagnosed with something more serious like cancer or diabetes, that’s going to be burning a rather large hole in your pocket very quickly.

What people tend to not realise is that pet insurance and human health insurance are reasonably similar with covering those hefty bills. With the health insurance that us humans have, private health provider and Medicare both chuck some $$ in for the bills, and we pay the gap. Without pet insurance, us as owners are left to foot the bill ourselves.

When you go to the vet, you’re wearing all those three hats – unless you’re insured. That’s why Australians are often shocked with they’re going to the vet. They’re used to paying for human medical services that are heavily subsidised one way or another, but when they go to the vet there’s no subsidy at all.

You can add on extras with pet insurance, similar to human health insurance, from worming and tick preventative procedures, to natural therapies like acupuncture and hydrotherapy.

An important one that pet insurance can cover is emergency kennelling when there’s a natural disaster like a cyclone, flooding, or bushfires.

It’s not just the health of the animal that you’ve gotta keep in mind, either. The humans that interacting with the pet are also part of the whole deal with insurance, too. Leigh tells PEDESTRIAN.TV that pet insurance also helps the special ecosystem between pet, owner, and veterinarian, and keeps everyone in that relationship happy.

When we inject insurance into the pet ecosystem, it obviously empowers the owner and puts some money in their hand so they can say “yep, go ahead with that procedure.” It’s also good for the pet, because the pet is now getting optimal treatment instead of being put down or worse, being provided with sub-optimal treatment, or no treatment at all.

The third person it’s great for is the vet, because suddenly they can be the vet that they’ve trained to be, rather than euthanising animals or saying “put a bandaid on it.” Mental health is a priority for the profession. People leaving the profession because they didn’t sign up to argue with customers over money, and didn’t sign up to put animals down all day, is also another phenomenon. We [as insurers] understand that the whole ecosystem is better with a bit more money in the system.

But what do people get wrong with pet insurance, once they know about it? Product Manager Lauren Nicholls tells PEDESTRIAN.TV that too many pet owners are leaving it too late to insure their furry friends.

We’re constantly trying to educate owners that insuring from a young age is best.That’s really to prevent any form of pre-existing conditions. We can’t cover any conditions that have arisen prior to taking out insurance – no insurer really does. The younger you insure, the less chance you’ll have of pre-existing conditions.

You can sign up your pet for insurance from as young as eight weeks old – which is usually the age when a kitten or puppy is good and ready to go to their forever home.

So there’s no excuse of not putting your you and your fluffy matey first, and getting them all covered before they decide to munch on a bee or break a bone falling off the couch.