Vale Cookie, the seven year old bulldog from South Sydney.
Cookie died in late August after a difficult three-month battle with a brain tumour that upset her loving owner, Monika Hooker.
“She was having seizures and when it got to the point that it was uncomfortable for Cookie we made the decision to get her euthanised by a vet,” Monika told The New Daily.
But Monika’s stress has not abated since August thanks to a term that was slipped into her pet insurance policy.
Cookie was the beneficiary of a pet cover underwritten by Allianz.
Allianz’s agent – Petplan Australasia – marketed the cover as a “Covered 4 Life” policy, that was meant to insure Monika for veterinary costs.
Apart from reimbursing less than half the cost of Cookie’s medical treatment, the policy sprung another ugly surprise on Monika.
Petplan is continuing to bill Monika for monthly premiums of $78.11 even though Cookie is dead.
Buried in the fine print of the Covered 4 Life policy that was sold to the Hooker family is a term that allows the insurer to gouge thousands of dollars from pet owners across the country.
Petplan offers pet cover on 12-month terms.
Cookie’s insurance policy does not expire until late December and even though the much-loved dog no longer survives, Petplan Australasia still wants more cash from Monika.
Petplan and Allianz are able to gouge Monika by slipping the following clause into Cover 4 Life policies:
In the event that you cancel the policy for whatever reason after having made a claim, no premium refunds are payable and the remaining premium for that period of insurance must be paid
This term of the policy has caused Monika to reassess the value of pet insurance.
“It seems to me so ridiculous,” she said. “I’m basically paying insurance for a dog that I don’t have.”
Consumer advocate, CHOICE, has launched a public campaign to get Petplan and Allianz to amend their policies so that a pet owner’s obligation to pay premiums terminates on the death of an insured animal.
If successful, the campaign will save thousands of Australians a lot of money because Petplan is the second largest provider in this fast-growing segment of the insurance market.
Pet insurance is a lucrative business. The annual premium on Cookie’s cover was more than $900.
Monika also pays similar premiums for her two other bulldogs, Jackson and Muffin.
CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey said his organisation was launching the public campaign after Petplan refused a request to amend the wording of its policies.
“We don’t think it’s right that pet owners should have to put up with these heartless terms in their policies,” said Mr Godfrey.
“Petplan is really dragging its heels and there is no reason for it to maintain terms and conditions that compound the grief and general unhappiness of owners when their pet dies.”
Mr Godfrey said most Australians with pet cover were unaware that their policies were littered with tricky conditions that excluded pre-existing conditions and loaded policyholders with large bills.