Pet Insurance

Compare pet insurance in New Zealand at Canstar. Southern Cross Pet Insurance, Petplan, AA Pet Insurance and Pet-n-Sur (including Animates) were compared on communication, value for money, quality of service, process, speed of response, ease of claim and overall satisfaction. 

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*Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order. Canstar research finalised in June 2019, published in July 2019.

See our Ratings Methodology.

Pet Insurance Customer Satisfaction Award

Most Satisfied Customers Award | Southern Cross Pet Insurance & Petplan

Southern Cross Pet Insurance & Petplan rated number one for customer satisfaction

Southern Cross Pet Insurance Logo


Southern Cross Pet Insurance and Petplan win Canstar’s Most Satisfied Customers Award

New Zealand has nearly five million pets (companion animals), outnumbering the New Zealand population of nearly 4.5 million. 64% of New Zealand households have at least one pet, with cats being the most popular, followed by dogs.

In Canstar’s survey, 68% of respondents indicated that they treat their pets as a family member. The way New Zealanders feel about their pets, along with rising health costs, has resulted in pet insurance becoming increasingly popular.

Canstar asked New Zealanders to rate their pet insurance provider- who they’ve made a claim with in the last three years – on a number of satisfaction factors: value for money, ease of claim, process, speed of response, quality of service, communication and overall satisfaction. Both Southern Cross Pet Insurance and Petplan received 5-stars for overall satisfaction. Southern Cross Pet Insurance also exceeded in value for money, quality of service and ease of claim, scoring 5-stars in each category, while Petplan was rated 5-stars for process, quality of service and communication.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance is part of the Southern Cross, New Zealand’s largest not for profit insurance company. It was established in 1982 and is now one of the country’s most popular pet insurance providers, providing New Zealanders with a variety of levels of cover and benefit limits for their pets.

On the other hand, Petplan was established more than 35 years ago in the UK and has since gone international, providing pet insurance to New Zealanders. The pet insurer now offers policies covering the cost of medical care for dogs, cats and horses.

In the unfortunate event your pet needs medical help, pet insurance can protect you against the cost of vet bills. Some policies may cover your pet for illnesses, inherited conditions, accidental injury, dental care, and day-to-day care. In Canstar’s survey, 57% of respondents said pet insurance gives them reassurance that they can get pet treatment if it’s needed.

While not all pet insurance policies include the same level of cover, there are some standard inclusions. Regardless of the level you choose, you can usually expect immediate injury cover and shorter waiting periods than if you didn’t have insurance. With pet insurance, you are essentially covered for the cost of vet bills for defined conditions, up to a specified amount – which varies between policies. However, Canstar advises you to always read the finer details in the policy before purchasing, to help avoid any surprises when you go to claim. When it comes to choosing a policy, you may be more suited to a higher level of cover, if you make frequent visits to the vet, or your pet is prone to illness.

Canstar surveyed 5208 New Zealand consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers who currently have a pet insurance policy and have made a claim in the last three years.  In this case, 215 New Zealanders.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is cover, either partial or full, for veterinary treatments of an ill or injured pet. Veterinary medicine increasingly involves costly medical procedures and medicines, so pet insurance can provide some cover should your pets need these treatments in the future. 

There are three main types of pet insurance cover policies: accident pet insurance, accident and illness pet insurance, and comprehensive pet insurance.

Accident cover pet insurance

“Accident only” pet insurance policies cover harm or injury caused by an accident. For instance, if you take out this insurance, you may be covered for accidents involving broken bones, burns, snake bites, or bites from other dogs or cats. This type of policy may not pay on all types of accidents or injuries if the pet’s owner didn’t take standard preventative measures. For example, removal and treatment for ticks and fleas will not be covered if the owner didn’t use preventative medications. Injuries due to a pre-existing condition are also not usually covered – such as old orthopaedic (musculoskeletal) injuries flaring up, allergies, cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and other chronic conditions.

However, it’s a blink of the eye accident that can cost a lot of money. Accidental insurance cover can help ease the cost of that unexpected event.

Accident and Illness pet insurance

Accident and Illness pet insurance covers accidents and injuries, but also covers sickness or disease diagnosed by a vet. With this type of pet insurance, your dog or cat should be covered for minor conditions such as ear infections, skin conditions, and bee stings, as well as major conditions such as cancer, broken bones, diabetes, infectious diseases, and hereditary conditions. Certain conditions will commonly be excluded from this level of cover, including pre-existing conditions and diseases where there is a known vaccine.

Comprehensive pet insurance

Comprehensive pet insurance policies cover accidents, injuries, sickness and disease, and also many routine care treatments. Routine care can include de-sexing, dental care, vaccinations and behavioural therapy, such as dog behaviour training. Routine care is sometimes called “Wellness” or “Extras” cover.

What type of pet insurance do you need?

The type of pet insurance you need varies on a number of factors, such as the age of your animal, if they have any hereditary conditions and what budget you are working with. To help decide what type of pet insurance to get, consider the following:

  • What type of insurance will your pet need at this stage of their life? Pets’ health needs change over the course of their life. A young pet needs preventative vaccinations, de-sexing, health checks and microchipping, which are only covered by comprehensive policies. After their first year, pets should be fairly safe with accident and illness cover – even if they are of a breed that is predisposed to certain conditions, such as diabetes, hereditary and congenital conditions. An older pet needs additional cover for old-age conditions, such as arthritis, cancer, eye conditions – meaning they will be more suitable to an accident and illness or comprehensive policy. If you do change your pet insurance policy, keep in mind that new pet insurance policies will often exclude pre-existing conditions.
  • Is your pet covered for life? Some policies will not cover older pets, or will make you pay a higher percentage of the vet bill, for an older pet. Some policies will only cover pets older than eight-years-old for their life, if you already insured them before they turned eight. You can usually insure your pet from the age of eight-weeks-old, with some pet insurers offering free cover for pets as young as six-weeks-old.
  • Can the annual benefit limit cover your pet’s needs for the year? There is no sure-fire way of knowing whether the benefit limit you opt for will be enough. This depends on a number of factors, such as your pet’s age and whether or not your pet is susceptible to certain illnesses. With some pet insurers, you may be able to choose a main benefit limit, along with sub-limits, for individual treatment categories like surgery or dental care.
  • What recurring or hereditary conditions are covered? Many types of cats and dogs have recurring or hereditary conditions that are specific to their breed, so it’s important to know what your pet might get and whether they would be covered for it or not. Accident and illness policies will cover many hereditary conditions. Each pet insurer is different when it comes to what may be covered, so you should compare pet insurance before making your decision.
  • Is routine care covered and does it cost extra? Routine care includes procedures that are essential to the everyday care of pets, such as deworming and vaccinations. A comprehensive policy should include wellness or routine care treatments, while some policies will let you add certain routine care treatments, without taking out a comprehensive policy. 
  • Does it suit your budget? There are a couple of ways to make sure you can afford to insure your pet. First, you can choose a cheaper Accident Only or Accident and Illness policy – keeping in mind that the coverage will not be as wide. Secondly, you can pay a lower monthly premium if you have a higher excess, which is the amount you pay if you have to make a claim. However, you need to make sure that you could actually afford to pay the excess if your pet were to need emergency treatment unexpectedly.

What you might receive back from your insurer when you make a claim. What percentage of the vet bill will your insurer pay, and what excess will you have to pay?

Pet type

Pet insurance in New Zealand generally covers cats and dogs. Insurers deal with these under a breed-by-breed basis and insurers will therefore ask what breed of dog, or breed of cat you have. While the breed of cat will generally not make a difference to your premium, the breed of dog you have can significantly alter the amount that pet insurance will cost.

Some providers also cover horses under equine insurance policies. Very few providers cover birds, fish, reptiles, or exotic animals.

Age Type

  • Young: <1-4 years
  • Mature: 5-9 years

Some providers also cover horses under equine insurance policies, such as Petplan. Very few providers cover birds, fish, reptiles, or exotic animals.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The cost of pet insurance is measured on a case-by-case basis – the only way to determine the cost for your pet is to get a quote from a pet insurer. Pet insurers usually provide a free quote on their website. To give you some guidance, here are some factors that may affect the cost of pet insurance: 

Cat or Dog: On average, cats are cheaper to insure than dogs, for the equivalent policy. For older pets, it gets even cheaper to have a cat than a dog.

Breed: This is different for cats and dogs. The cost of pet insurance differs between dog breeds, whereas this is not so common for cats.

Dogs of an unknown breed or “bitzers” can be significantly more expensive to insure than dogs of a known breed. The most expensive breeds to insure include Labradors, German Shepherds and Border Collies – while breeds such as Staffies, Pugs and Maltese Terriers cost less to insure.

By comparison, cats of an unknown breed, or “moggie” cats, can sometimes be cheaper to insure than cats of a known breed, because of purebreds’ predisposed genetic health conditions. For example, Persians can have chronic breathing problems and Abyssinians are prone to hereditary anaemia.

AgeJust like life insurance for humans, pet insurance gets more expensive as your pet ages. A seven-year-old dog will cost more to insure than a puppy younger than one-year-old. Similarly, a seven-year-old cat will cost more to insure than a kitten.

Size: The larger the pet, the more expensive it can be to take it to the vet, and the more your insurance can cost. This is because larger pets require more medication, and cost more to house and feed if your pet needs an overnight stay at the vet, holiday stay, kennel or cattery.

Desexed: If your pet is neutered or spayed, they have a lower chance of contracting many different health conditions, reducing your premium. Neutered males have a lower risk of testicular cancer or prostate disease. Neutered females have a lower risk of mammary gland tumours, ovarian cancer, pregnancy complications, caesarean section births, and injuries resulting from animal aggression.

Indoors or outdoors: Outside pets face many more dangers than indoor pets, so their premiums are higher.

Active or inactive: Some breeds are especially prone to obesity if they are inactive, and insurers may specify that pets are not be covered for certain health conditions if you don’t keep them active. On the other hand, overactive breeds are prone to injuring bones or muscles and their premiums will also be higher. 

Please note that these are a general explanation of the meaning of terms used in relation to pet insurance policy cover. Your insurance provider may use different wording and you should read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy carefully to understand what you are and are not covered for. Refer to the product disclosure statement from your provider.

Accident and Illness: An insurance policy that covers a pet for injury, sickness, illness or disease.

Accidental injury: Physical harm or injury that is caused by a single specific, unpredictable, unusual event that was unintended (an accident) and is not caused by a pre-existing condition.

Accident Only: An insurance policy that only covers your pet in the event of an accidental injury.

Age limit: You can usually insure your cat or dog as soon as they are eight-weeks-old, while some providers will offer insurance from the age of six-weeks-old. Some insurers will only sign up a pet for insurance if it is younger than a certain age. To make your pet eligible for lifelong cover, you should insure your pet before they reach around the age of six-years-old. Pets above this age may not be eligible for certain types of cover and may only be eligible for accident only cover. Make sure you know about any age limits on your policy before you sign up.

Comprehensive: An insurance policy that covers your pet for injury and illness, and also for preventative treatments, routine check-ups, behavioural treatment and other complementary therapies.

Co-payments: Some policies require a co-payment, which means that the insurer pays a listed percentage of the cost of vet fees, usually between 65% and 85%, and you pay the remaining percentage. You are co-paying the expenses. This is sometimes known as co-share. Some policies require that you pay both a co-payment and an excess.

Excess: The excess is an amount that you pay instead of the insurer, e.g. “the first” $250 or $500 of a claim. Insurers usually have either a policy with different excess options that you choose between, or separate policies that each have a different excess amount. You can pay a lower premium if you have a higher excess, but you need to be sure that you could afford to pay the excess unexpectedly, if your pet were to need emergency treatment.

Exclusions: Anything that is not covered by your policy. When a particular health condition or treatment is listed as being excluded from your policy, the insurer will not cover the expenses for treating that condition, or having that treatment. Common exclusions include behavioural problems, elective procedures, diet and nutrition, grooming, pregnancy, and pre-existing conditions (where your pet showed symptoms before you bought insurance, or during the waiting period).

Extras Cover: Another name for Comprehensive cover or a policy with Routine Care benefits. See Routine Care below.

Inclusions: Anything that is covered by your policy. When a particular health condition or treatment is listed as being included in your policy, the insurer will cover the whole expense or a listed percentage of the expense involved.

Lifelong cover: An insurance policy that covers your pet for as long as they live, even if they grow to a ripe old age. You must renew your policy with the same insurer every year, with no break in cover, to be eligible for lifelong cover, especially for recurring, chronic or ongoing conditions such as cancer or arthritis.

Limit / Benefit limit: Policies have an annual limit on the amount of benefits you can claim. Many policies also have sub-limits for particular types of treatment, e.g. surgery, tick prevention and treatment, or dental. Some policies also have per-incident limits, meaning they will only pay a certain amount per claim, for a particular type of treatment. Most $20,000 policies won’t let you claim $20,000 worth of treatment. Make sure you know how your chosen policy works and whether it suits your pet’s condition, or health requirements.

Optional extras: Optional extras are treatment options that can be added to your policy if you pay a higher premium.

Pre-existing condition: A pre-existing condition is a condition that existed in any form before you signed up for the insurance policy. This is why insurers have a waiting period for illness, so that if your pet shows symptoms of a condition during the waiting period, they do not have to cover your pet for the costs of treatment. Certain pre-existing conditions will not be covered by insurers at all.

Premium: The premium is the amount you pay your insurance provider per year, per month, or per fortnight, for your pet insurance cover. Your premium must be paid on time for your pet to be covered.

Related condition: A condition that is considered to be a pre-existing condition, because it has same the same symptoms or classification as a pre-existing condition your pet has. Related conditions are not covered by your insurance. Unlike pre-existing conditions, related conditions do not have to happen before the commencement date of the policy, or during the waiting period. For example, if your dog has arthritis in its legs and this is a pre-existing condition, and then after the waiting period it develops arthritis in its back, this will be considered a related condition.

Routine Care: Routine Care benefits are preventative healthcare treatments specified by your insurance provider as procedures they will pay for. Common examples of Routine Care include dental treatment, de-sexing, or emergency boarding in a kennel or cattery. See your product disclosure statement to see whether your policy includes any Routine Care benefits. These are also known as Wellness Care, Wellbeing Care, or Extras Cover benefits.

Waiting period: Once you purchase an insurance policy for your pet, accidents will usually be covered immediately, but your insurer may impose a waiting period before your pet will be covered for certain conditions. For example, a 30-day waiting period may apply for illnesses, and a six-month waiting period may apply for ligament injuries, unless you can provide your insurer with a vet certificate saying your pet does not have any ligament injury. A waiting period will usually apply to hereditary conditions or congenital defects existing at birth.

Wellness Care: See Routine Care.

Wellbeing Care: See Routine Care.