Pet Insurance has been around for over 50 years in the UK and currently it is estimated that 26% of pets (cats and dogs) there are currently insured. There are about 600 policies on the market in the UK. In comparison, rates of Pet Insurance in New Zealand are estimated at less than 10% and in some regions are probably closer to only 1%. There are three companies offering insurance with a combined total of 18 different policies. This is all despite New Zealand having one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.
The most commonly claimed for cases are: lameness, skin/ears, growths/cancers, gastro-intestinal issues (including blockages) and fighting injuries (mainly cats). Some of these cases can be relatively straight forward, but it is not uncommon for costs to escalate as more diagnostics, surgery or drugs are required. Obviously the larger the patient the higher the costs as they require proportionately bigger doses of drugs.
Pet insurance policies are not all created equally. There are vast differences in what each policy offers and subsequently what these policies cost. The most extensive plans on the market currently will cover up to $18000 per year for a dog and $12000 for a cat. As well as surgical and medical issues some of these policies will also cover advertising for lost and stolen pets, care if the owner is hospitalised and even to the extent of refunding a cancelled family holiday due to a pets health issues.
Below are some procedures and an indication of some minimum costs:
Bone/toy/material stuck in the stomach or intestines: From $800 (can quickly go up depending on level of damage and region it is stuck).
Cruciate surgery (the most common orthopaedic surgery performed): $1200 to $4500
Broken leg (depending on the type of fracture): From $1000 upwards
Pyometra (infected uterus, may not be covered by insurance) often $800-$1200
Diabetes for a 20kg dog about $2000 - 3000 per year.
10kg dog in heart failure with full treatment: $2000-3000 per year.
The biggest thing with pet insurance policies is to read the fine print. All policies will have things that they will not cover and requirements to keep the insurance valid. In most cases, pre-existing conditions will not be covered and some will exclude certain things for the first month or two of a policy being taken out.
Some policies will pay for vaccinations but most require vaccinations to be up to date for the policy to be valid. Certain breeds that have high rates of genetic disorders will attract higher premiums or may have these cases declined. Also breeding related issues are not usually covered (i.e. caesareans, infected uterus).
Click on the following links for further information on some NZ pet insurance companies and policies.