Giving our pets ample love, cuddles and exercise through pet sharing is a great way…
Giving our pets ample love, cuddles and exercise through pet sharing is a great way to keep them happy. Another big one is protecting their health with pet insurance, where – just like choosing the right pet owner or pet borrower – choosing the right pet pawlicy is super important.
So, how do you compare pet insurance in NZ?
Is it best to choose the insurer you’ve heard about? Or the one your neighbour chooses? Or, perhaps one that gets lots of comments on Facebook? That one might end up being the most suitable provider for you and your fur family, but there’s plenty of other research you should do too.
The best way to compare pet insurance in NZ is ultimately to explore what each policy does and doesn’t cover, up to what claim limit, then compare that with your pet’s health needs (or possible health needs) and your pocket.
Let’s start with the basics…
Comparing different types of pet insurance in NZ
Did you know there are four main types of pet insurance to compare in NZ? The most important difference is what each type includes in its cover and then what its annual benefit limit is. Here’s a basic breakdown:
|1️⃣||Accident only||This is the cheapest type, covering many accidental injury related health care costs. Depending on the provider this can include surgery, prescription medicine, X-rays, surgery, blood tests, consultation fees, etc.|
|2️⃣||Accident and illness||Costs a little more and, in addition to covering accident-related treatment costs, covers health care costs for a range of illnesses. Because just like people, pets get tummy bugs, infections and diseases too.|
|3️⃣||Comprehensive||This costs the most because it offers the widest range of cover. Depending on provider it can cover treatment for injuries after accidents, illnesses (perhaps even hereditary conditions), dental issues and potentially other health care bills too.|
|4️⃣||Third-party liability||This only helps cover costs for damage caused by your pet to other people, their property or their pets. So this isn’t going to protect your pet’s health.|
Some insurance providers, like PD Pet Insurance for example, have third party cover included as part of all their plans. This way you get to cover your pet’s health and your pocket (in case your pet scratches someone’s antique carpet or bites their designer pooch). Not that they’re going to, but anything’s possible!
Others don’t have third party cover at all. That’s one of the decisions you’ll have to make when comparing pet cover policies.
How to compare pet insurance and choose well
You don’t have the time to compare everything, so what can you do to simplify comparing pet insurance in NZ? Well, two things actually. Firstly, choose a few NZ pet insurers and compare their offerings to one another. And secondly, your pet is actually a big part of the puzzle.
Pet insurance premiums are based on the ‘specs’ of your pet – type, breed, age and the level of cover you’d like to give them. Besides wagging tails and twitching whiskers, there are some other moving parts too. Like if you want to include add-ons or have a certain type of excess payment, for example.
Also, did you know that some purebred dogs and purebred cats can be more prone to certain health conditions? This is one reason breed is a consideration for the level of cover you choose. For example, a Siamese cat may get allergies more commonly while Labrador Retrievers are more prone to hip dysplasia in dogs.
The basics of comparing pet insurance in NZ
When you compare pet insurance in NZ, it’s about the purrrfect price for your pocket, but that’s not all. You want the best features for that price and with a bit of savvy know-how it’s easy to achieve.
Here are some basic features to look out for when comparing pet insurance in NZ:
Are you locked into a contract? If you are, does this mean you’ll be responsible for cancellation or switching fees if you decide to end your policy or switch over to another pet insurer? Are there any other fees to keep in mind, aside from the excess, which we cover further down? Like admin fees if you want to move between different levels of cover with the same insurer?
What’s the total amount you can claim back for all eventualities? $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 per year, for example? What if your perky pup eats a dead bird and gets sick, then develops diabetes and needs ongoing treatment all in the same year?
The annual defined benefit limit is the total amount you can claim back for all pet health care across that one year. Besides your defined annual benefit limit, you sometimes also get sub-limits per claimable event. That means you can only receive a set amount back when you claim per that type of incident.
Some pups, like Harvey the Miniature Schnauzer, end up with a spate of bad luck all in one go and need lots of vet treatments. Your pet’s annual benefit limit depends on the provider and which level of pet insurance pawlicy you choose.
The whole point of having pet insurance is being able to claim when you need to. You don’t want to land with a $5,000 vet bill only to discover that on top of dealing with your recovering pet and the bills, you need to now also do heaps of paperwork to submit a claim manually.
When you’re comparing pet insurance in NZ check out several insurers’ claims processes and see what other customers say. You want a fast and easy claims process so you can get back the dollars that are rightfully yours, with no fuss. Ideally this can be done online any time of day to suit your schedule, whatever that is.
Did you know that simple claims also make things easier in terms of paperwork for vets? Choosing pet insurance wisely is good for your pet, your pocket, your peace of mind – and your vet!
Every time you send a vet bill to your insurer they’ll reimburse you for the defined limit applicable to that claim, minus the excess. When you’re comparing your round up of selected NZ pet insurers, check out their policy wording to see what type of excess structure they offer.
Do you need to pay a % excess per vet bill or a fixed $ excess across a whole claimable event no matter how many bills there are? Or something in between? The first option can get especially costly, especially on big multiple vet bills, which is why the difference is important to understand.
Also consider whether you’ll need to make co-payments. Policies that offer co-payment are policies where you and the insurer ‘share’ each bill. These can have lower premiums but because you pay a % towards every bill plus you pay your excess this can get costly too. To put it another way, some pet insurers pay 100% of your benefit while others only 70% or 80%.
That can leave you with a serious shortfall, or it may not. Decide whether the risk is worth it for the lower premium.
Just like human health insurance, some health care costs won’t be covered. Find out what these are before you choose your pet’s plan. For example, some health conditions can’t be covered if your pet already has them (these are called pre-existing conditions).
However, if you get your pet’s plan when they’re little and before they have the chance to develop any conditions they’ll get the widest cover possible.
The best pawlicy for your pet is the one that’s there for them in their hour of need. Take your time comparing pet insurance inclusions from NZ insurers, with your pet’s breed, lifestyle and temperament top of mind. Research your breed’s needs and find out common cat and dog breed health problems.
Don’t just bet on things your pet has needed in the past because you can’t anticipate their future needs. With that in mind, does the insurance provider and plan offer what you have a higher likelihood of requiring at some point, like going to hospital, having surgery, removing a tooth abscess, radiology, prescription medication, etc.?
You can even consider speaking to your vet to get their professional opinion on choosing and comparing pet insurance cover in NZ. They may not advise on pet insurance brands specifically but they may share their knowledge on the ins and outs of pet cover as it relates to your interactions with the vet clinic.
Even after you’ve compared pet insurance options and chosen a plan that gives you peace of mind, you’ll need to see your waiting periods through before you can claim. Different types of health issues generally have different waiting period durations. So maybe for condition X you can only claim after 90 days whereas for condition Z its 21 days.
Check waiting periods before choosing a plan so you know what to expect. Also know if you decide to switch providers they may waive waiting periods if you’ve been insured elsewhere.
When it comes to add-ons, you’ll likely have come across wellness benefits. Unlike most health insurance benefits that safeguard against the unexpected, wellness benefits usually cover the known, such as vaccinations and desexing.
Can you budget for those instead of opting in for extra cover, given they’re expected costs? Compare the cost of this add-on (and others) with the cover its inclusions provide, then make your decision from there.
Pet sharing is pet caring
Whether or not you pet share, it’s a great idea to have your pet protected for when they’re home and when they’re out and about. Whether they eat the pet carer’s prized parakeet or knock over her crystal vase, they catch kennel cough from a canine buddy or break a limb getting up to mischief, your plan should protect them and your savings.
After all, happy, healthy pets make for happy, healthy pet sharing too.