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Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost? What Our Vet Thinks

Our chief vet, Dr Mark Perissinotto BVSc talks about the one thing pet owners don't want to think about:

If your beloved cat or dog fell ill, could you afford to foot the bill and have it nursed back to health? While it's the one thing no pet owner wants to think about, as a qualified veterinarian, it's unfortunately a question I've seen too many pet lovers have to ask themselves in real life.

Dr Mark talks affordable pet insurance with RSPCAWhen it comes to pet ownership, things can get pricey rather quickly and while most of us have heard about pet insurance to help cover the costs of emergency care, is it worth it? When you already pay for the best in food, toys, training and parasite protection, it can be hard to decide if you should cough up the few extra dollars per month for pet insurance too but I'll explain why I think it's the smart choice for Aussie pet owners. 

When push comes to shove, if your dog or cat had a serious injury or needed care, you really want to be able to give a guilt-free “yes go ahead” without worrying about  financial difficulty don't you?

Fortunately, the option of having your pet be able to see after suffering from vision impairment, or having a complicated spinal surgery or even a kidney or cartilage transplant, all very expensive procedures, is now within reach of many pet owners holding appropriate pet insurance coverage. However, it's not just expensive procedures that pet insurance can help with. As Dr Andrew Byrne, the RSPCA Victoria chief vet says, expensive medical advancements and surgeries like these can, at times, be avoided with regular vet visits.

“The trick behind helping our cats & dogs live longer is to not be afraid of visiting the veterinarian for advice regularly throughout an animal's life. Along with the improved medicines & treatments there has been certain improvements in early diagnostics that enable animal health problems to be detected earlier in an animal’s life, that will often enable certain lifestyle or nutritional changes to occur that might prolong the need for expensive corrective surgery or lifesaving medical intervention.” Dr Byrne says.

The right pet insurance policy can also help you manage the costs of these routine visits, saving you from financial pain and your pet from more real, unpleasant pain. 

Some pet insurance brands allow you to include "Routine Care Benefits," which cover procedures such as desexing your dog or cat, microchipping, annual vaccinations and teeth cleaning and also cover part of the cost of preventative flea, tick and worm control.

As many of you will know, I'm proud of my long and strong association with the RSPCA. If reading this has made you think that insurance might be the way to go for you, why not check out RSPCA Pet Insurance? Not only does this help you protect your pet but a portion of all premiums goes to the RSPCA itself, helping you to improve the quality of life for the many animals the RSPCA cares for day in, day out. 

RSPCA Pet Insurance covers your dog or cat for a range of Accidental Injury and Illnesses depending on which plan you choose – from minor problems such as ear infections and bee stings, to major conditions such as broken bones, diabetes and cancer. You’ll receive up to 80 per cent of eligible vet bills back in your pocket (Pre-existing Conditions excluded).

Another benefit of RSPCA Pet Insurance is that you won’t pay an excess; (something those of us with home and contents insurance sure find interesting!) and if you include Routine Care Benefits, it even covers part of the cost of products you buy from VetShopAustralia such as flea, tick and worm control.

RSPCA Pet Insurance makes it easy for you to use any licensed vet in Australia. In 2015 alone, RSPCA Pet Insurance paid 125,988 total claims with 85% of all claims processed within 5 days. So it’s no surprise, they are the 2016 winner in the Readers Digest Quality Service Award for the Pet Insurance category.

Of course, as per any form of health insurance, RSPCA Pet Insurance does not cover every veterinary bill you may receive. Exclusions include dental care, day to day care, elective procedures, pregnancy and any pre-existing conditions that your pet showed clinical signs of before you took out the insurance, or during the waiting period. A full list of exclusions can be found in the Product Disclosure Statement available at

Common claims

The type of things you can claim for are wide and varied. To give you an idea of how much you might be up for with and without pet insurance, here are some examples that RSPCA Pet Insurance has encountered. As you can see, many of these are things are unexpected and the treatment can be very expensive.

RSPCA Affordable Pet Insurance Table of Examples

 *Examples based on dog/cat insured on the RSPCA Ultimate Accident & Illness Cover. Industry example, vet costs may vary. General information only. Terms and conditions apply. **After reimbursement, assuming yearly claim cap has not been reached. Net expense does not include the premium cost of acquiring pet insurance.

RSPCA Pet Insurance has  three affordable cover options to choose from for both dog and cat owners alike, and as a veterinarian, pet lover and proud supporter of the RSPCA, I'd strongly encourage you to look in to it further. After all, for less than the cost of the daily paper, you could be saving your pet’s life.

You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement, available at, prior to making a decision on whether to purchase RSPCA Pet Insurance.

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