Elderly border collie dog in spectacles wants to compare pet insurance with a pet insurance comparison

Your How-To Guide for Comparing Pet Insurance Plans


Recent Blog:

So, you want to compare pet insurance? Good move. Undertaking solid research before you decide is the best way to do a pet insurance comparison in NZ, to land the right cover for your budget and your furball’s needs.

What you’ll soon learn is that comparing pet insurance is not just about comparing price.

Your total cost per month or year is definitely an important consideration, but on top of that you should be looking at a policy’s:

  • Inclusions (e.g. diagnostic tests, medication, surgery, hospitalisation, etc, for XYZ health issues)
  • Exclusions (e.g. behavioural issues, congenital conditions)
  • Annual benefit limit (e.g. $20,000 per year defined benefit limit for total claims)
  • Percentage of claim payment (e.g. does the insurer reimburse 100% or a lower %)
  • Other claim limits (e.g. some claimable events may have sub-limits)
  • Excess structure (e.g. is it a fixed fee on each claimable event or a percentage of each vet bill)
  • Waiting periods (e.g. 90 days for XYZ health issue)
  • Additional fees (e.g. contract cancellation or switching fees)
  • Special conditions (e.g. maximum claim payment for vet consults done out of hours)
  • And more

Sound like gobbledygook to you? Don’t fear, here’s our one stop shop checklist of important things to consider before you make your pet insurance pick.

How to compare pet insurance

In doing your pet insurance comparison in NZ, take time to look up at least three local insurance brands that catch your eye. Then compare them with an understanding of the above-mentioned policy aspects. But wait – you’ll also need to consider how your individual circumstances contribute to the cost and breadth of cover.

On those individual circumstances, generally insurers will calculate your premium based on whether your pet is a dog or a cat, its breed and age, the level of cover you want, what add-ons you want to include, how much excess you’re willing to pay, and whether you’ll be doing a co-payment or not (if that’s something they offer).

Let’s look at the different levels of cover…

Type of insurance

As mentioned, your first decision will be the inclusions – the breadth of cover – you want for your pet’s health insurance plan. Broadly speaking, there are four types of pet insurance in New Zealand:

1. Accident only

Includes cover for your pet’s vet expenses if they have an accident that injures them. You’ll typically be paid out up to your claim limit for most or all of the medically required procedures, consultation fees, prescribed medicine, X-rays, surgery, blood tests and more. 

However, ‘accident only’ insurance is just that – it covers accidents only. It won’t cover your pet if they get an illness, infection, allergies, etc. That’s why it’s the cheapest type of pet health cover you’ll find when you compare pet insurance in NZ.

It’s also important to note that this type of insurance plan has the lowest annual defined benefit limit – the maximum amount per year the insurance provider will reimburse for claims you make.

2. Accident and illness

Includes cover for expenses relating to your pet’s accidents, as above, and illnesses. It will have a higher premium, but also offers a higher annual defined benefit limit. If the insurer’s policies have sub-limits those may be higher too.

However, accident and illness insurance usually doesn’t cover things like pet dental insurance or routine vet visits, like for vaccinations.

3. Comprehensive cover

Includes cover for your pet’s vet costs for accidents, illnesses and other treatments. What those other treatments are depends on the insurance provider. For example, some policies may include dental treatments like the PD Insurance Deluxe plan.

It’s the plan type with the highest premium, but it also provides the highest benefit limit per year and has the widest range of benefits.

a woman holds up a treat for her dog. they are happy because she did a pet insurance comparison to compare pet insurance and found the best one
And then there’s third-party cover…

Under New Zealand law, pet owners are liable for damages or injury their pet causes to other pets and property, if their pet wasn’t under their control at the time. Third party liability insurance helps you pay for the other party’s vet bills and care as well as property damage up to a certain amount (if your pet doesn’t have a history of aggression or violence). This type of cover is the most affordable on its own, but won’t cover any accidents, illnesses or other health afflictions that happen to your pet.

When doing a pet insurance comparison in NZ, you’ll find a couple of insurance providers provide third party liability cover as part of one or more of the three plan types we’ve listed above. PD Insurance, for example, includes it in all plans.

Wellness benefits… but are they?

The most common add-on you’ll see in the pet insurance world, ‘wellness care’ can help pay for things like vaccinations, desexing, worming products and other minor bits and bobs.

One way to view this add-on is that it helps pay for vet visits you plan for, whereas your main cover helps with unanticipated accidents, illnesses, infections, etc. Those larger vet bills that could take years off your savings or send your credit card over its limit.

When deciding whether or not to go with paying extra every month for a wellness package, consider whether you can budget for these predictable costs instead. Remember: in taking up this additional cover you’ll be paying additional money on top of your pet health plan. Weigh up the cost of the add-on versus what you’ll be reimbursed for those vet visits – it should be fairly simple if you have a schedule for your pet’s routine pet care.

To read one vet’s perspective on this click here.

Excess payments

When doing your pet insurance comparison in NZ, you need to look at the excess on each policy. You might have a seriously comprehensive plan but if you have to pay hundreds of dollars in excess every time your pet needs medical treatment, then is that the right plan for you?

Importantly, look at whether you have to pay a percentage excess for every single vet bill (which can get costly) or simply a fixed dollar excess per claimable event. The latter is the excess set-up PD Insurance offers.


While an excess is a fee you pay per bill claimed or once only over a claimable event, co-payments are a system where you “share” some of each bill with the insurance company. Therefore, when you make a claim you’ll also need to pay a certain percentage of the veterinary cost yourself.

Policies that offer co-payment usually have lower monthly premiums. This can help keep your monthly repayments affordable, but can be very scary at claims time if you simply don’t have the money to cover the shortfall. 

Some insurers only cover 70% or 80% of the claimable amount and you’re left with the shortfall plus the excess with every single bill. When you compare pet insurance in NZ, be sure to explore the co-payment situation. (FYI PD Insurance pays 100% of the vet bills for any claimable event, up to any claim limit.)

Compare pet insurance based on the contract

Some providers require that you sign up with them for at least a year. This means that if after a few months you’re no longer happy with their service or claims process, you’ll be stuck paying for Fido’s insurance for the rest of the year. Either that, or you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee to exit the policy.

You might want to go with an insurer like PD Insurance that offers month-to-month cover with no lock-in contracts. Then you can cancel your policy whenever you want (nor do we charge any penalties).

Claims process

You only find out what an insurer’s claim process is really like once you submit your pet’s vet bills. When doing your pet insurance comparison across NZ providers, ask each insurer what their claims process is. How quick are they at settling accounts and reimbursing their clients? Is it an online process or manual? How much paperwork do they need?

A prolonged claims process will mean a timeframe without the funds or potential disputes under time-sensitive scenarios – look for an insurer who settles and refunds quickly. Check the payment timeframes to make sure they suit your needs. Read through online reviews to see what others are saying about claims turnaround times.

Does the company make settling accounts and reimbursing quickly one of their selling points? Is that backed up by positive testimonials about speedy claims payments? If so, you’re likely onto a winner.

Compare pet insurance based on exclusions

Each insurer will have different exclusions, aka health situations and/or conditions they don’t pay for. The most common is underlying medical conditions. Just like human health insurance, you can’t insure your pet without disclosing any conditions they’ve had beforehand. These are called pre-existing conditions.

Other things that you must disclose include whether your pet engages in commercial or occupational related activities (e.g. they’re a working dog or service dog).

You’ll want to read each insurer’s policy wording document to check for exclusions when you do your pet insurance comparison in NZ. Read the PD Insurance policy wording here.

Waiting periods

Simply put, an insurance waiting period is the period you’ll need to wait before you can make any claim from your insurance. It begins from the date your policy commences.

The need to get through waiting periods, like pre-existing conditions not being covered by insurance, are a good reason why you should consider getting pet insurance sooner rather than later in your pet’s life. It’s definitely something to put on your pet insurance comparison checklist.

Waiting periods exist to ensure not-so-honest people don’t quickly sign up for insurance once their pet already has a serious illness or accident, and then cancel it once medical treatment is complete. This would significantly erode the pool of insurance payout funds available for all customers’ needs. Which means the insurer will need to put up prices, rein in sub-limits, introduce more conditions, and so on, to re-balance its ratio of claims to premiums earned.

Find out the length of each insurer’s waiting period for each type of health situation. It’s an important task when you compare pet insurance in NZ.

Make a pet insurance comparison with your pet’s needs

You know you dog or cat better than anyone. What breed traits do they have? How active are they? Do they have behavioural or psychological conditions that will need treatment? Are they desexed or likely to have a litter? Are they an older pet? Policies around these variables all differ, so be sure to dig into the details when you compare pet insurance in NZ.

You may also want to directly discuss with the insurer what they do and don’t cover. And, again, read that policy wording document!

Check out these must-read pet insurance comparison resources too:

The final word: Get the insurance plan that’s most tailored for your pet’s needs and your back pocket. Don’t just aim for the cheapest, most basic one. In the same vein, is the most expensive one with the biggest bells and whistles really the most suitable?

Look at alllll the aspects of your potential cover.

Award-winning insurance

Now that you know how to do a thorough pet insurance comparison in NZ, you may want to consider PD Insurance. We’re an award-winning brand that prides itself on our quick claims process, transparency when it comes to inclusions and exclusions, and affordable pricing.

If you’re looking to compare pet insurance, we offer dog insurance and cat insurance on a month-to-month basis, meaning you’re not locked into any contracts.

Why not get a quote today?

Share on :