NZ Pet Insurance

NZ Pet Insurance

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The New Zealand Pet Insurance Guide

New Zealanders love their pets. In fact, we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, with 64% of Kiwis owning a furry, feathered, or scaled friend.

According to the Southern Cross reports, “64% of Kiwi households own at least one pet.”

Cats are the most popular pet for Kiwis and interestingly, “the number of registered dogs in New Zealand is growing even faster than our human population”.

However, being a pet parent comes with a cost.

According to PD Insurance, the average cost of owning a pet in New Zealand is between $500-$1,000 per year for health-related expenses.

Pet insurance can help to ease the financial burden of unexpected vet bills. With numerous pet insurance providers and policies available on the market, navigating the options can be difficult.

Cost of Living Crisis Hits Pet Owners

The rising cost of living has had an impact on pet owners, with animal shelters reporting an increase in people giving up their pets because they can’t afford to care for them anymore.

Gabby Clezy, the Chief Executive of the SPCA, told Radio New Zealand (RNZ) they reported a 20 percent increase in strays arriving into their care, mainly puppies and kittens, in the six months to January 2023.

She emphasised, "the financial cost of living crisis is really having an impact on animal owners.

"If people are in financial difficulty", we do ask them to reach out to us for help and support, which we can provide, rather than just abandon the animals".

Helping You Help Animals (HUHA) Chief Executive, Carolyn Press-McKenzie, told RNZ they had seen an influx of various animals, including turtles, horses, cows, and pigs.

"Back in the day, you'd have an influx of puppies and kittens and be able to work through that, but now it's finding accommodation for just about every species you could imagine," she said.

How to Cut Costs

An easy way to keep your vet bills down in the long-term is by ensuring your pet receives good-quality food and staying current with worming, flea treatments, and vaccinations.

Veterinary Association Companion Animals head, Sally Cory, cautioned RNZ that pet owners could incur bills at the vet for potentially avoidable things, such as pets ingesting something they shouldn’t.

"We do have a lot of unforeseen things happen because dogs do eat things that they shouldn't," Cory said.

What Is Pet Insurance and How Does It Work?

Pet insurance is a specialist type of insurance designed to assist in covering the cost of vet bills relating to things like your pet’s illness or injury.

Comparable to health insurance for humans, you pay a monthly premium, and then the insurance company will contribute towards your vet bills if your pet becomes sick or injured.

Pet insurance policies can vary, so it's important to read the fine print carefully before you commit to one. Generally, most policies will cover the following:

  • Accidents: This includes incidents like broken bones, cuts, and poisoning.
  • Illnesses: Coverage extends to illnesses such as cancer.
  • Routine care: This includes essential preventative measures like vaccinations, checkups, and dental care.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Pet insurance may not be necessary if you can afford to cover unexpected vet bills.  

However, if you're on a tight budget or concerned about potential vet bills, then pet insurance can be a valuable means of protection for both you and your pet.

Southern Cross, offering ‘PetCare’ and ‘AcciPet’ plans, explains that “pets don’t have purses or pockets, so a surprise trip to the vet will be coming out of yours.”

Here’s what it could cost, based on claims Southern Cross has paid. Zoom, who developed a skin problem and needed consultations, medication, testing, and immunotherapy, incurred a cost of $6,000. Similarly, Archie, who needed surgery, consultations, medication, and diagnostic imaging after ingesting a piece of string, had expenses totalling $4,000.

These examples underscore the potential financial impact that pet insurance can mitigate.

Related article: Should you cancel an insurance policy to save money?

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost in New Zealand?

The cost of pet insurance in New Zealand depends on several factors, including the type of policy you choose, your pet's breed, age, and health history.

Some insurance providers including SPCA, Tower, and Southern Cross, may offer discounts if you have multiple pets covered under insurance.

Generally, you can anticipate monthly premiums ranging from $20 to $70 for a basic policy. In the comparison between cats and dogs, dog insurance typically tends to be more expensive.

These estimates serve as a general guide, and it's advisable to obtain specific quotes based on your pet's unique circumstances and the desired coverage.

How to Compare Pet Insurance Policies in New Zealand

There are several methods to compare pet insurance policies in New Zealand. You can utilise online comparison tools, seek quotes from various providers, or consult your vet for more insight.

  • Type of cover needed: Determine if you require accident-only coverage or a comprehensive plan covering both accidents and illnesses. Identify additional benefits you may need, such as coverage for third-party liability or dental care.
  • Policy cost: Pet insurance premiums can vary depending on the provider, chosen coverage, and the breed and age of your pet. It is important to compare quotes from multiple providers before choosing a policy.
  • Claims process: Make sure you understand the claims process associated with the policy you are considering. Familiarise yourself on how to make a claim and the expected processing time for how long the claim could take.  

By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when selecting your pet insurance.

How to Choose the Right Pet Insurance Policy for Your Needs

When choosing a pet insurance policy, it is important to consider the following factors:

Your Pet’s Breed and Age

Some breeds of pets are more prone to certain health conditions than others. Additionally, older pets are more susceptible to developing health problems. Therefore, you may need to consider a policy with high levels of coverage for pets at a higher risk of health problems.

Your Budget

Pet insurance premiums can vary widely depending on the provider, chosen coverage, and your pets breed and age. It is crucial to choose a policy that aligns with your budget.

Your Lifestyle

Consider your lifestyle when choosing a policy. If you are an active person who frequently enjoys taking your pet on adventures, a policy that covers accidents and illnesses might be suitable. If you have a more sedentary pet, accident-only cover might suffice.

According to Canstar NZ, the top six pet insurance providers in New Zealand are:

  1. AA Pet Insurance
  2. SPCA Pet Insurance
  3. Southern Cross Pet Insurance
  4. PD Insurance
  5. Petcover
  6. Pet-n-Sur

These considerations and the listed provider can help guide your decision-making process.

Tips for choosing the right pet insurance policy in New Zealand

Here are a few tips for choosing the right pet insurance policy in New Zealand:

  • Read the fine print: Make sure you understand what is covered, what is excluded, and how the claims process works.
  • Compare policies: Conduct a thorough comparison from different providers. Obtain quotes from at least three different providers to see the range of options available before you choose a policy.
  • Talk to your vet: Your vet can provide advice and guidance on choosing a pet insurance policy that aligns with both your pet’s well-being and your budget.

The Bottom Line: Pet Insurance in New Zealand

Pet insurance can be a great way to protect your pet and your budget. Selecting the right policy for your individual needs is crucial. By following the tips above, you can confidently choose a pet insurance policy that provides peace of mind, ensuring your pet is protected.

Here are some additional tips for saving money on pet insurance in New Zealand:

  • Opt for a higher excess: Choosing a policy with a higher excess will lower your monthly premiums. However, it’s essential to ensure you can afford to pay the excess in the event of a claim.
  • Consider a policy with a co-payment: This means that you'll pay a percentage of the vet bill, with the insurance company covering the remainder.
  • Take advantage of multiple pet discounts: If you have more than one pet, explore the possibility of obtaining a discount on your pet insurance.
  • Shop around for the best deal: Compare quotes from different providers before finalising your decision. This ensures you secure the most favourable terms for your specific circumstances.

By incorporating these tips into your decision-making, you can find the best pet insurance policy that aligns with your needs, your pet’s needs, and your budget.

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