The latest budgeting advice from Bills to Pay founder Kris Bondin, qualified CPA.

How do we protect our budget from unexpected vet bills? 

Pet Insurance in Australia has been around for a very long time. So the question you have to ask yourself is how much of a risk do I as a pet owner want to take to avoid nasty vet costs?

Pet Insurance is designed to help pet owners to pay unexpected vet bills in the event of an accident or illness.

Many families can afford the general immunisation costs, but what we don’t plan for is an accident or an illness which could cost thousands of dollars. Like other types of insurance, pet insurance is not different to insuring your car in the event of an accident. You pay a premium each year for insurance and in the unlikely event of an accident, you pay an excess to the insurer who then pays the full cost of the expense.

Do I need pet insurance?


When deciding whether and for how much to insure a pet, it may be worth evaluating the likelihood of your pet falling ill or having an accident. Where you live, what other animals you pet associates itself with and even what are the chances of something happening on a walk. Living in a rural area and a snake bite occurring.

I came across a stat that stated an estimated 6,000 saveable pets are put down each year because their owners can’t afford the vet bills.

For families on a tight budget, it may be easier to budget for $480 a year than to face the pain of losing a pet because of lack of funds.

How much does pet insurance cost?

Pet Insurance isn’t cheap. Depending on the illness or injury, vet costs can easily reach several thousand dollars. A monthly premium could range from about $35 to $50 a month per animal, depending on the level of cover.

Once you have decided insurance is for you, it is a matter of sorting out the best policy. There are many providers of pet insurance in Australia: the RSPCA, Woolworths, Medibank, Real Insurance, and Allianz are just a handful of insurers.


I haven’t come across a site that compares all pet insurance providers. One that compares some is Choosi.

Types of cover

The types of cover include: Accident, Illness or Comprehensive, which usually includes additional benefits and rebates for owners who regularly vaccinate, flea and worm their pets.


Most policies only rebate a maximum of 80 percent of the vet bill, which means you will have to pay the gap.

Maximum benefits


The maximum benefit refers to the maximum amount you can claim in one year and usually ranges between $6000 and $15,000. 


Few pet insurers will cover a pet with a pre-existing condition. This is very important to disclose such information as the insurer would request a full medical history from all vets visited in their lifetime.


Some policies charge an excess for each claim made in a year. This excess is deducted from the rebate amount. The excess could range between $50 and $250. This is where you need to ask yourself, how much risk is there and therefore pay more or less in your premium.



In summary, you need to compare, the cost of the premium, excess, maximum limit, maximum age of pet, rebate percentage, exclusions and any other benefits the insurer will provide you over the duration of the insurance.   

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