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Pet Insurance Options for Older Dogs and Cats

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Aug 1st 2017 - By Mitch, Top 10 Pet Insurance
Pet Insurance Options For Older Dogs And Cats

Pet Insurance for senior pets can be tricky - especially at a time when pets may need even more veterinary care

Just like us humans, getting older often means more trips to the doctor for a growing list of aches, pains and illnesses.  Even dogs and cats that went years between seeing the vet in their youth may find themselves to be regular visitors as they age. 

More treatments mean much higher healthcare bills, and pet insurance can be a very effective tool for managing the high costs of caring for older pets.  Pet owners who purchased insurance while their pets were young can benefit from peace of mind that they have access to coverage for their dog or cat’s entire life. 

Australian insurers only enroll pets in new accident and illness policies before their 8th or 9th birthday; for some higher risk breeds this cutoff is just their 5th birthday!  Be sure to make your clients aware of these relatively young cutoffs. 

Pets enrolled in a plan prior to this cutoff are usually entitled to coverage for their entire lifetime, so long as there is no interruption in coverage.  However, as pets age there is usually an increase in premiums and often a reduction in the reimbursement rate, plus possibly an increase in excess (which pet owners pay out of pocket.)   

For example, PetPlan policies for dogs have a standard $150 excess, which means this amount is deducted from the claim before reimbursement is calculated.  Once pets reach 10 years of age, the excess increases to $150 + 35%, sharply reducing benefit payments. 

For older pets who lack insurance, there are two options available. 

Every insurance brand offers a line of Accident Only insurance, which carries no age limit.  These plans provide coverage for a defined set of injuries, with no benefits for illnesses or preventative care, and are often unnecessary for less active older animals.  While premiums are inexpensive (for example, Bupa charges $16 per month for a 12-year-old Golden Retriever), they generally offer little value as many pets may never have a qualified claim. 

Two insurance brands offer comprehensive plans specifically for older pets, PetMed and Australia Post. 

PetMed’s Senior Plan has no age limit, and provides complete accident and illness coverage with a 65% reimbursement rate (compared to 80% on many plans for younger pets), a $10,000 annual benefit limit and a moderate $99 excess.  Premiums are high – though not necessarily unreasonable – running at $106 per month for a 12-year-old Golden Retriever. 

Australia Post debuted a line of pet insurance within the past year, and its Bronze plan also provides accident and illness coverage with a 65% reimbursement rate, though the annual benefit cap is an industry-low $3,000.  Premiums for that 12-year-old Golden Retriever would be $77 per month, with a $200 excess. 

Finally, pet owners should be aware of the significant limitations that pre-existing conditions can cause on policies.  Insurers have very liberal (though well-defined) interpretations of pre-existing conditions, which can lead to broad coverage exclusions in new policies.  For example, treatment for skin irritation as a puppy can result in all skin conditions being excluded for the life of the dog.   

Encouraging pet owners to purchase pet insurance early is the best way to help them ensure that they have valuable coverage in their pet’s later years.  


This is a guest post from Mitch at Top 10 Pet Insurance, which provides independent reviews, price comparisons and discount codes for every pet insurance brand in Australia.


Click here to visit the Top 10 Pet Insurance Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory


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