The Cost of Owning a Pet and the Best Types of Insurance Plans

The vast majority of us love pets because of their companionship, but how much are you willing to pay to keep your furry friend healthy during its life. Medical bills, vaccinations and a host of other potential needs all cost money, with certain animals and breeds costing considerably more compared to others.

This article is ideal for those considering either bringing a new pet into their lives, finding out how to save money whilst owning a pet or which insurance plan is the best to have during your pet’s life. Whilst some costs are unavoidable, there are others that can be reduced by ensuring you have the right policy in place.


Pets cost moneyInterestingly enough a Fairfax Media research project revealed that Aussies are more devoted to their dogs than they are to cats, at least when it comes to paying vet bills. They surveyed 2,033 Australians and found that on average a dog owner is prepared to pay up to $4,128 for one visit to the vet, whilst cat owners were only prepared to pay $2,137 ($1,991 less). This did surprise the team because the potential length of companionship from a cat can be almost double the time of a dog.

During the same survey Fairfax Media covered other animals too, such as horses ($1,501), birds ($352), reptiles ($216), small mammals e.g. guinea pigs, mice, rabbits etc. ($191) and finally fish ($153).

Reading the report it was humorous to see how the Australian territories differed with regards to paying money to care for their sick pets. Western Australia was the most devoted to their dogs, willing to pay up to $5,517. New South Wales on the other hand were the biggest cat lovers, happy to pay up to $2,815 for a sick kitty.

If these figures sound like a lot of money then you have two decisions, either find an insurance plan that covers what you believe to be right for your pet or trust yourself to put aside the money you would save on paying pet premiums, for when you actually need to take them to the vet. Whatever you decide should be right for you but to give you a glimpse into the future regardless of your decision here are some figures.

Pet bills can vary depending on animal breeds

Annual premiums for pet insurance vary but on average you will be looking at paying $700 for $10,000 of comprehensive cover for a three-year-old dog. Cats will be cheaper at roughly $470 per year, as determined by Canstar Blue.

Whilst that is a general overview, you also need to consider the particular issues that your specific breed may encounter if you have gone for a pedigree animal. If the insurance is relatively cheap when entering your animals details, but the probability of breed related issues is high then this will most likely swing your decision towards insurance. A good example might be something such as a skin condition which can end up accumulating hundreds of dollars worth of prescription drugs and special food which could have been covered by accident and illness-tier insurance.

Rather than go into all the different possible outcomes of having insurance for all types of animals, I will provide a summary of the different types that exist so you can better ascertain which route is best for you to consider if you decide to get pet insurance. The big insurance companies have created a variety of plans for all types of pets, because an inner city kitty will be exposed to completely different risks compared to a farm dog.

Accident cover: this protects your pet against injuries arising from accidents, but doesn’t cover them from illness.

Illness cover: protects against life threatening medical conditions but excludes accident related injuries.

Comprehensive cover: generally this costs more in premiums because it includes both of the above, but it is the most popular choice of insurance across Australia.

Comprehensive Plus cover: this includes additional benefits that don’t come with standard comprehensive cover and of course they will vary depending on which company you choose. Certain things to expect when choosing this type of insurance can be routine vet check-ups, vaccinations and some standard medications.

Once you have done research on your pet and decided which type of cover may be more suitable then it’s time to begin comparing plans and I would suggest Canstar Blue’s comparison engine due to their reputation. However, you must remember to shortlist a few plans that seem suitable overall and then be sure to check the following:

  • Read the fine print
  • Excesses
  • Exclusions
  • Co-payments
  • Sub-covers (e.g. ticks, snake bites)


Once all of this is done you will hopefully have a plan that is right for you and your companion and we would greatly appreciate any advice you can offer to the Buckscoop community in the comments section below.

The different varieties of pets in Australia

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