Pet insurance: Types of cover and what they offer

“According to a recent New Zealand Companion Animal Council Inc. survey, there are more companion animals in New Zealand than there are people! Overall, around 68% of New Zealand households own one or more companion animals.

What are the most common household pets?

There are plenty of documented health benefits of owning a pet; from lower levels of stress to higher levels of physical activity, our pets can have a positive and lasting effect on us and often become a beloved member of our family. Just as with every other family member, though, keeping them happy and healthy can be expensive. With average veterinary fees hitting four figures for some illnesses and injuries, pet insurance can be worth considering.

So “”“ where to start?

Before you can begin assessing specific insurance policies, you will need to decide what type of insurance you want. There are two broad types of pet insurance, as outlined below.

Surgery-only cover

Is your dog an escape artist with no road sense? Does your cat’s enthusiasm for climbing outweigh its ability? Surgery-only cover, as the name indicates, will only contribute to the surgical costs of your pet’s illness or injury. This can be a cost-effective way to meet unexpected surgical costs, although it’s important to note that most policies will include a maximum dollar limit that can be claimed each year on particular procedures.

Comprehensive cover

A comprehensive policy will contribute towards both surgery caused by accident or illness as well as the medical costs associated with accident or illness. Some common illnesses that your dog or cat may suffer during their life include:

  • Cancer
  • Ear/eye conditions
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Skin conditions

The cover that is provided will vary from policy to policy but may also include options such as acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation and osteopathy. Other out of pocket expenses such as boarding kennel fees, theft and advertising/reward for a lost dog are also an option. Additionally, there may be the option to insure for inherited conditions, for an additional cost.

How to find a policy?

Ultimately the right pet insurance for your household will depend on your budget, the type of pets you have and the level of cover you wish to be insured for. There is no easy way to compare all pet insurance policies available, but friends, family or your veterinary surgeon may be able to offer advice. Consumer New Zealand also conduct periodic reviews of consumer products, including pet insurance.As with all insurance though, the best advice is to take your time, shop around and always read the fine print!

Table source: New Zealand Companion Animal Council Inc

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