Pet insurance

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Get the purrfect plan for your pet.

If your pet falls ill or has an accident, you could face veterinary bills totalling thousands. It’s not surprising that more Kiwis are choosing to insure their pets. We’ve surveyed pet insurance policies from five providers to find out what’s covered, the costs, and the catches.

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The bare essentials

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Exclusions and limitations

Petplan and The Warehouse cover dental damage caused by accident as well as tooth decay, provided your pet has had a check-up in the past 12 months.
Petplan and The Warehouse cover dental damage caused by accident as well as tooth decay, provided your pet has had a check-up in the past 12 months.

When you take out pet insurance, it’s tempting to think your pet is covered for every eventuality. That’s not the case. Insurers put exclusions and limitations in their policies to reduce their liability.

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Ruby's story

Deborah Garrett got Ruby, her border collie, when the pup was four months old. A week later, Deborah discovered the half-eaten shell of a nut from her macadamia tree on the lawn. As these nuts are poisonous to dogs, she rushed Ruby to the vet.

The vet put drops in Ruby’s eyes to make her vomit. To Deborah’s relief, there was no sign of the nut. False alarm. But Deborah later ran into difficulties getting comprehensive cover for Ruby. “When I told the insurer about my visit to the vet, it said it wouldn’t cover Ruby for poisonings or neurological disorders for the first 12 months.”

Deborah felt the insurer’s reaction was “like cracking a nut with a hammer”. So she turned to another provider, which was willing to fully cover Ruby (despite the macadamia nut episode) as well as her two siamese cats.

In the past year, Deborah has made two claims, most recently when her cat Tao snapped his tooth. “That cost about $1100 in vet bills and I got $800 back from the insurer, so I was glad I had cover.”

Extra benefits

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Policy premiums

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Higher risk breeds

Some dog breeds are considered a higher insurance risk because of their size, activity levels or predisposition to certain ailments. Pet-n-Sur, PetPlan and The Warehouse have a list of “select breeds” built-in to their policies.

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Odd ducks

Southern Cross’ AcciPet policy insures your pet against accidental injury only up to $5000. This means you’re covered if your pet suffers a sudden physical injury (for example, it’s hit by a car). But you’re not covered if it falls ill. The AcciPet policy is an option if you need insurance for an older pet as it doesn’t have age restrictions. The plan costs $10.24 for a cat and $20.28 for a dog (labrador retriever).

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Age limits

Insurers usually enforce an age limit for pets when issuing new policies.

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Excess

If you need to make a claim under your policy, you’ll likely have to contribute towards some of the bill. This is the excess. There are various excess structures.

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