Should I Get Pet Insurance For My Pet

“Should I get pet insurance?” is one of the most common questions veterinarians get asked.

Because insurance is a significant amount of money to outlay, it is wise to understand what pet insurance covers and the financial implications of what not taking insurance out means.

In this episode of “Ask Us Anything” Dr Leigh speaks with Dr Magdoline Awad from PetSure.

We discuss why purchasing pet insurance when you first adopt a pet, get a new puppy or kitten or rescue an older animal is recommended.

We touch on a lot more in this Pet Insurance article. 

Check out the video or read the transcript below.

We hope you enjoy and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below.

Video: Pros And Cons Of Pet Insurance




Dr L: Dr Leigh Davidson of Your Vet Online
Dr M: Dr Magdoline Awad from PetSure

Dr L: Hey everyone Dr. Leigh here from Your Vet Online and today we have got “Ask Us Anything” with Dr. Magdoline Awad. Now Dr. Mags is a veterinarian with a very keen interest in all things animal welfare and luckily for us because today we’re going to be talking a bit about pet insurance. She actually is the Chief Veterinary Officer for the largest pet insurance company in Australia, so she knows everything there is to know about pet insurance.

So if you have any questions that you want to ask pop them in the link down in the comments section down below and we’ll see if we can answer them during this Facebook Live, otherwise we’ll try and answer them later on our page, just either on the Facebook page or we’ll pop a link through to the our website and we will put this whole post over there.

Alright then, well welcome Dr. Mags!

Dr M:Thanks Leigh

Dr L: Well let’s get right to it, now pet insurance is a really emotive subject for a lot of people because they consider it quite expensive and they worry ‘is it really worth it?’

What Is Pet Insurance?

Can you tell us a little bit about it and what exactly is pet insurance?

Dr M: Well pet insurance, like any other insurance is insurance and so I guess the most important thing to understand is that when people buy insurance it’s to actually mitigate against unknown risk and of course we know that when we buy a pet we’ve got to make sure it’s vaccinated that it’s wormed that it’s fed properly you know, that we do the right things by it.

You microchip it, you go to the vet and get it checked out so we’d have an understanding of what is required yeah for our pets.

But what we don’t know is, what disease is it going to get and what accidents or illnesses might come about for that animal during its lifetime.

So yeah those are the unknown risks and that’s why we buy pet insurance.

We buy it for our car – we don’t know if we’re going to have an accident

We buy it for our home we don’t know if it’s going to burn down

All those sorts of things – but for our pets I guess it’s one of those things that we know it exists, but actually pet insurance is really, really important because it’s one way of making sure that your pet is happy and healthy and it’s something that you can do quite easily and make a big difference in the welfare of your pet.

Dr L: I guess the big thing for many people is that they get their pets and they’re really young and they don’t/can’t foresee what might happen in the future

I mean I’ve had clients who bought only, you know bought a new puppy and it’s not even you know six weeks and it’s been run over, or it’s had really bad gastro intestinal problems and things like that

So yeah as you say you don’t know what’s necessarily going to happen and whether it’s going to happen when they young or whether it’s going to wait until they’re old.

so I guess that brings us to the next question:

When Is The Best Time To Get Pet Insurance?

Dr M: yeah and that’s a really good question Leigh because one of the things that we always say to people about pet insurance is get it when they’re young

literally when you adopt an animal, when you purchase it from a breeder or a pet shop or whatever other means a shelter purchase.

Get that animal home go online, purchase pet insurance.

Dr L: Okay.

Dr M: And the reason that’s so important is because we know that puppies and kittens are prone to getting a lot of things that are unforeseen.

You know dogs are most likely to get into garbage they’re likely to eat things you know including their own poo

Dr L: yeah

Dr M: And we know that they’re likely to be boisterous and sort of inquisitive so those sorts of things are more likely to happen to puppies.

So the other thing that’s really important is that people don’t know what underlying diseases an animal has what you call hereditary and congenital conditions.

And pet insurance, our pet insurance company does pay for those conditions.

I guess the important thing is to get insurance early, because what we don’t pay for and what no insurance company pays for, no pet insurance company pays for these pre-existing conditions.

So if you were… because everyone’s really into buying well buying or getting rescue dogs you know they they are getting these dogs from someone like the RSPCA or another shelter and they might be a little bit older.

Can You Get Pet Insurance For Older Dogs And Cats

Dr M: Absolutely Leigh, our insurance products are there for cats and dogs of any age any age! when they sign up for pet insurance all our products are able to sign up animals under the age of nine when they first get pet insurance.

And if they continue with their pet insurance, will cover them for life.

We do have some new policies, so if you happen to go to a rescue or a shelter and adopt a senior animal that’s over nine years old we do have some new policies that actually cover them even if it’s their first time purchasing pet insurance.

Dr L: That’s really good because a lot of people really like to give those older pets a chance at life!

Dr M: yes so now they can be insured!

Yes those senior pets they’re great companions yeah but at the same time they are prone to getting diseases and ailments at all just like any other pet.

What Are The Different Types Of Insurance Available?

Dr L: okay all right so can you give us a little bit of a rundown on all the different sort of types of insurance

So I mean I guess I’m familiar with things like there’s accident only we might have accident and illness but there’s a few words sometimes you see in these brochures and you’re just like what does it mean?

Dr M: It’s not that hard actually to talk about the types of products that we have because there’s a couple of things, that are a few things that you should know about pet insurance before you purchase it is that:

number one make sure that the pet insurance that you you know covers chronic diseases because a lot of animals suffer from chronic diseases and covers them for life and all our products do that

and also covers for congenital hereditary conditions and all our products cover for that

Dr L: I see and I guess I see we have a comment here from Sarah and she is talking about hip dysplasia there so that hip dysplasia is that something that’s like a congenital known as congenital condition?

Dr M: Yes so I guess when it comes to conditions that are what we call hereditary conditions a lot of these conditions don’t show up until the animals a little bit older and that’s why it’s so important to get pet insurance as soon as you can we cover pets, cats and kittens and puppies from the age of eight weeks.

Dr L: Oh Wow

Dr M: So you know a lot of these conditions say for example you know elbow dysplasia or things I mean they’re actually you know, as a vet you don’t see them that young. You know they might come about when the animal’s four or five months old.

So that’s it, that’s why it’s really important to purchase pet insurance when they’re young, going back to the information about the products,

Yes so make sure they are covered for chronic disease and their life long covers which is what our..

Dr L: Are all of them life long or because I know sometimes when you read some of these things some companies are not life long.

Dr M: Okay so just to just to be very very clear our accident illness policy which covers animals for accidents and illnesses those particular policies are all life long okay so what that means is: say your dog was covered it was a dog, the dog had diabetes and it was eligible for cover for diabetes then every year that you continue your cover it would be covered for diabetes okay and so all our accident illness products and like that.

Accident Only is a cheap product and it covers for very specific conditions there are about nine or ten conditions that it covers for things like snake bites and burns and things like that and that that covers obviously covers a cheaper cover it doesn’t cover your illnesses but at the same time some people just want to be covered for certain conditions.

But the main cover that we have is accident illness and most of our clients purchase that and again they’re all life long cover.

Dr L: Yeah okay so that’s a life long cover is really that is so good because if you, I mean I guess this brings us to another point if you suddenly decide that you’re going to stop cover for a year because maybe you’ve had some financial stress or you think it’s not worth it that cover goes back you don’t have that cover again if you continue do you so pretty much or you can’t swap you can’t swap policies or companies yeah and you must continually keep that cover mustn’t you?

Dr L: Yes so I guess it the thing is that once a condition has been ahh, has come about, if you stop your cover and then you say get it again later on then that condition then, it is deemed to be pre-existing

Dr M: And that’s how pet insurance works, I guess pet insurance acts and seems like health insurance then but by law it’s actually classified under general insurance like car and home

So as you know you can’t insure your car after you have had an accident and expect it to be fixed and that’s the same with pet insurance

So if there is a pre-existing condition then that condition won’t be covered but it doesn’t mean that any other conditions won’t be covered afterwards.

So I guess that’s where most people think ‘oh well, you know it’s it’s um it’s got diabetes hence I won’t get pet insurance’, but what if your dog then got a cruciate rupture or you know had cancer I mean those things will still be covered,

So I guess at the end of the day you know most people in Australia are pretty good at continuing their cover for their home and their car I guess we kind of forget our pets,

Because we have this great Medicare system in Australia yes that really removes any kind of understanding about the true costs of medical care and veterinary care isn’t cheap,

I mean vets have access to CTs, MRIs, they’re highly trained professionals.

It costs a lot to keep a veterinary practice open and people don’t understand what it costs for their own medical treatment so absolutely they’re completely aghast when they hear veterinary fees are a certain amount of money

But you know that’s why pet insurance is so invaluable

How Are Insurance Premiums Calculated?

Dr L: Exactly and so can you explain to us maybe how a premium is actually formulated and why you have to pay the amount that you have to pay?

Dr M: Okay so pet insurance like any other insurance is , you know, you can pay by the month or pay by the year and the way premiums are calculated in pet insurance is based on breed and age and where you live.

Okay so I guess the most important thing is to understand that you know certain breeds as you know Leigh are going to develop certain conditions and therefore their premiums might be higher than another breed that is,

For example you know a crossbred dog. You know cross breeds generally don’t suffer from some of the conditions that we know purebreds suffer from.

And you know we’ve got years of data to help us with our pricing,

I guess the important thing to know is that we don’t actually have breeds subsidise other breeds so for example,

Dr L: Oh that’s so good to know,

Dr M: If you’ve got a high risk breed that we know is going to be expensive we don’t actually make other breeds pay more for their cover so it’s very, very fair for the clients.

Dr L: Yeah no that’s excellent

Case Study: When Dr Mags Needed Pet Insurance For Her Own Dog Rex

Dr L: I know Mags, Dr. Mags you had a situation yourself where you actually needed to have a lot of veterinary care for your dog and insurance came in really handy for that didn’t it?

Dr M: Yes and when I talk about insurance and talk about unforeseen risk, mine was very unforeseen in fact I had mine insured because I work for PetSure we’re very lucky in that, you know part of working here means that we get to experience pet insurance.

And so I have three dogs yeah and my nine year old dog actually this year he almost collapsed at home and we rushed it off to the emergency hospital and he in fact had a grass seed in his lung and that grass seed had migrated and caused a massive infection in his chest he had had major surgery with a specialist yeah and he had the CT scan,

Dr L: I was going to say did he have a CT scan?

Dr M: He had a CT scan, he had a surgery with this wonderful specialist

Dr L: And he would have been on a ventilator probably?

Dr M: Um no he actually was very lucky in that he recovered quite well. He was in hospital for a week in intensive care, which all adds up,

And you know what Leigh? Within two months I thought everything was going great but then he ruptured a disc in his neck and again there we go a risk I never know what happened.

As a veterinarian with over 20 years experience even I was shocked that this would happen. That my dog would have to have major procedures all needing specialist veterinary care within two months.

Dr L: So when you look at something like that how does it work with your policy though? Because you might have the one condition it might cost say six thousand dollars and then are their limits. So did you did you run into troubles with limits with this one?

Well Leigh, as you know there are limits to any policy and just with any policy there are going to be general exclusions you cannot cover everything.

All the conditions my dog had were absolutely covered by insurance the only limitation was my yearly annual limit and yes that was maxed out but it took a major chunk out of what I had.

So you know everybody would do everything for their pets you know especially a pet that’s been with with us since you know, since I got married and had my kids, so my kids were absolutely love this dog.

So Rex is doing really well now,

Dr L: Oh that’s awesome

Dr M: And thanks to pet insurance and I guess at the end of the day even vets you know find themselves in these situations.

I mean I’m a vet but I certainly am NOT a specialist and my dog needed specialist care.

Dr L: yeah you can’t afford to actually well when I say can’t afford, your own skills can’t necessarily be utilized for treating those problems because you’ve needed a specialist.

Dr M: Both conditions needed a CT scan, and both conditions needed specialists to do the surgery so I’m very grateful I had pet insurance and when I tell my story I tell it from you know somebody who worked in practice for years and saw a lot of people that couldn’t even afford to have their pets vaccinated and I guess one of the things that we know about pets is that they bring us so much joy and are good for us

Dr L: yeah they certainly are

Dr M: and the people that benefit the most from pet insurance are probably those people also that really do need sorry the people benefit most from pet ownership are the people that do need pet insurance.

Dr L: Exactly.

Dr M: So we have designed some new products that are actually a lot cheaper yeah and you know the limits a little bit different but at the same time it helps to take the brunt out of some of the um yes you know some of the angst you know.

Things To Remember When Purchasing An Insurance Policy

Dr L: So I guess the key things for people to do when they’re looking at trying to find a policy that fits them is to consider the breed of dog that they’re going to purchase

consider how old the dog is

look where they are live I mean that’s a constant like you’re not gonna be moving around much

and then I what other things I mean I guess we talk quickly about accident verse accident and illness and I mean I guess the thing is accident illness we all know that there’s more illness than accident so yeah I have to say it’s probably 70% more illness than accident

Dr M: Yeah and really Leigh you’re right and that’s reflected in the fact that most of our policies that we sell are accident and illness we can’t foresee what’s going to happen to our animals and most people just want peace of mind and that’s what pet insurance is,

It’s actually just piece of mind

It’s you know, you hope you never have to use it I hoped I’d never have to use my pet insurance but it’s there when you need it and so it just takes a lot of the angst away and then you can concentrate on looking after your pet right rather than worrying about veterinary fees.

Dr L: Exactly

Alright then guys well if you have any questions that you want to ask us pop them in the comment section below because we can answer those later and I’ll pop this up on the website as well so check out and I hope that has been beneficial for some of you. Alright catch you guys later and thank you so much Mags!

Dr M: That’s alright Leigh, anytime.

Dr L: Alright see you guys

If you have a question about pet insurance that you would like answered by either Dr Magdoline Awad or Dr Leigh, pop it in the comments below.

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Should I Get Pet Insurance all your questions are answered