Life Relationships The pet insurance primer

The pet insurance primer

The New Daily
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Labradors are among the most expensive dogs to insure but the price a dog owner pays to protect their beloved pooch varies greatly depending on their age and breed, new research shows.

The Canstar report evaluated pet insurance by analysing 83 products available from 18 institutions across Australia. It found taking care of man’s best friend comes with a hefty financial burden and pet insurance is a decision many owners grapple with.

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According to the Australian Veterinary Association, owners spend about $25,000 per animal in the average life span of a dog.

Owning a dog costs people a minimum of $910 per year, with essentials including grooming, food, toys and treats, vaccinations, micro-chipping, and puppy training.

The cost of caring for a dog during the first year of its life is estimated at between $2350 and $5220.  Canstar research found that the price owners pay for insurance depends on the cover selected and age and breed of the dog.

“Pet insurance can be a financial lifesaver,” says Canstar research manager Mitchell Watson.

“Having a generous insurance policy in place can help pet owners avoid the financial and emotional stress associated with having to make a decision on getting treatment in the face of a sudden accident or illness.”

Different costs for different breeds

The research found Labradors are the most expensive known breed of dogs to insure under an accident and illness policy, with a one-year-old pooch costing $589.15 and a seven-year-old at $799.91.

German Shepherds were the next highest at $508.55 for a one-year-old, while Border Collies, Pugs, and Cavalier King Charles’ each cost $495.80 to insure.

Pet insurance policies can be a lifesaver. Photo: Shutterstock

Insuring a domestic house cat costs $364.84.

“Pet owners need to take into account the type of breed of pet they have plus their age and how prone to certain illnesses or accidents they are because all that can impact on how much they cost to insure,” Mr Watson says.

“Labradors have a higher incidence of foreign body ingestion – think like sticks, bones and toys – which may lead to vomiting, dehydration, diarrhoea and surgery to remove objects.”

Do your homework

Mr Watson says not all pet insurance policies are created equal and warns that many owners aren’t aware of common exclusions.

“These include pre-existing conditions, which may be injuries or illnesses that have not been diagnosed prior to the commencement date of the policy.

“Some insurers have waiting periods until pre-existing conditions will be covered. Obstetrics is commonly excluded, as are diseases which can be vaccinated against, like kennel cough.”

Why age matters

Understandably, insurance policy costs increase with the age of your pet. Owners should be aware that insurers will only offer cover up to a certain amount and they could be left to foot the remainder of the bill.

Depending on the type of cover, Canstar found annual benefit limits range from $6000 to $20,000, meaning that in the event of major surgery, pet owners could still be faced with some tough financial decisions.

There’s also age entry limits to think about.

For accidental only cover, there is no maximum entry age, but for accidental and illness cover and comprehensive cover, most insurers list their maximum entry age for pets as nine years.

Find the right policy

Canstar researched and evaluated pet insurance products by comparing pricing and features on offer.

Provider 1300 Insurance was found to be the best in Accidental Cover and Accidental and Illness Cover, while PetInsuranceAustralia was the best product for Comprehensive Cover.

“At the end of the day, pet owners need to do their research ands find the best plan for them and their pet,” Mr Watson says.

“It’s about finding the right policy, not the cheapest. The best time to get pet insurance is as early as possible before any medical issues develop.”

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