New Zealand has the second highest rate of pet ownership in the world, with around two thirds of us counting them as family.
Yet the rate of people with pet insurance is much lower than several other developed countries.
It’s obvious there are misconceptions floating around, deterring people from taking the leap. This article will knock those on the head.
Pet insurance is easy to understand. It’s insurance cover that helps protect you financially and your furry/hairy/feathery/scaly friend physically when they are sick or injured. But often that’s not all – some pet insurance (like PD) features add-ons for routine care aspects such as vaccinations, rewards for lost pets and even boarding fees.
Below we bust some common pet insurance myths. Whether you’re thinking with your heart or your head you’ll find it simply makes sense.
Myth 1 – You spend more than you save
Yes, this can sometimes be the case. But what if it isn’t?
Monthly fees might add up in the short term, and Fido remains healthy, but in the long run you’re much more likely to need coverage.
When a pet falls ill or has an injury, some treatments run into tens of thousands of dollars (seriously!), even for seemingly uncomplicated fixes. Pet owners are often left shocked and alarmed at the cost, and unsure whether they can afford to provide their pet the required care.
Regardless, think of it like this – you might pay $12/month for Netflix or $15/month for Spotify, so why not pay similarly to protect a member of your family? For example, PD insurance is as low as $1 a day*.
Myth 2 – Only purebreds need it
It’s true that purebreds are more likely to have health issues, but that doesn’t mean a crossbred pet will sail through life sickness-free and accident-free.
Pretty much all pets get sick… skin conditions, tummy issues, eye problems, cancer, colds… and all are at risk of an accident. Often a vet doesn’t need to be involved (great!) but sometimes you need to pay a significant amount to have your furry friend treated.
Whether you’re paying thousands for a purebred or bringing home a rescue animal for free, they’re still at risk of a health hardship.
Myth 3 – Pet insurance is purely an emotional decision
Did you know the SPCA encourages pet owners to have insurance, as something a responsible owner should?
Sounds logical. And financial decisions should be logical. You’re spending your hard-earned money after all. Deciding about pet insurance should be just as sensible as taking up health insurance for your family or car insurance for your car.
Want to know the main reasons pet owners take out insurance, from the horse’s mouth? Our recent research found the top five reasons New Zealanders had pet insurance were:
- It’s a part of being a responsible pet owner – 56%
- I want to protect my pet however I can – 55%
- I don’t want to make a decision between money and my pet’s life – 42%
- I couldn’t afford a vet bill if my animal was seriously ill or injured – 39%
- Everyone/most people around me do so I do too – 14%
There’s some emotion to the decision of course, but there’s so much more to it than that. Pet insurance myth busted.
Myth 4 – I don’t need insurance to protect others
If you’re a member of the pet loving community then you and your loved one likely encounter other such families from time to time. Especially dog owners.
If you’re with a comprehensive insurer, pet insurance will cover your eager beaver if they accidentally (or intentionally, eek) cause injury or damage to another pet or someone else’s property.
In an increasingly litigious society, it pays to have a contingency plan should your pet have a bad behaviour day.
Myth 5 – All pet insurance is the same
Wrong. So wrong. There are many variables – cover limits, waiting periods, cost of cover, exclusions, sub-limits (eg. accidents have a limit of $X), caps, wellness add-ons and more.
Research carefully so you understand what you’d be covered for. Weigh up the cost of cover vs coverage provided. Maybe it’s worth one less coffee a week to provide fuller cover for your hairy mate and greater peace of mind for you. Maybe not.
This table outlining the cost of common pet surgeries (in AUD, but still) might help you decide.
Pet insurance myths demystified
Taking out pet insurance is both a logical and an emotional decision. Of course it is – we’re talking about family here (even if they can’t sit at the dinner table). Either way, it protects your nest egg by being available to cover bills that could break the bank. It’s your contingency plan.
You’re also protecting yourself from the potential distress of having to decide how much your pet’s life is worth.
Do your research to find the cover that works best for you and your pet’s individual needs.
Plan in advance, especially if your pet adoption is imminent. You can’t take out insurance to pay vet costs for an accident that happened yesterday or an existing illness. Plus, there are waiting periods to consider. For example, at the time of writing PD has no waiting period for accidents but there’s a 21-day waiting period for illness.
Then, rest easy, knowing kitty is covered.
We’ll leave you with this quote from the NZ Veterinary Association: “Kiwis love their pets and want them to have a good quality of life. There’s nothing worse for an owner and their veterinarian than having to choose treatment options based on finances rather than having access to the preferred treatment.”
“In some instances, that may mean having to choose euthanasia for a loved family pet when treatment was an option if the cost could be covered. That’s a terrible decision to have to make for the pet, the owner, and the veterinarian and their support staff.”
* Price will depend on cat or dog breed and other relevant information.