How does cat insurance work in Australia?

Insurance policies can be tricky to navigate, no matter what aspect of life they are covering. Your beloved pet is no different.

Before working out which policy will offer you the best cat insurance in Australia to suit your individual needs, it’s important to understand exactly how cat insurance cover works. Ensuring your expectations are clear from the get-go will help lessen any confusion when the time comes to have your cat treated.

Let’s start with the basics: what is cat insurance?

In essence, cat insurance is a coverage policy designed to pay a portion of eligible health-related bills up to an agreed amount. Different policy levels exist, with most providers offering three tiers. Upon selecting your level of insurance policy, you’ll pay a premium to maintain coverage. Then, when your cat requires treatment, you’ll pay your vet directly before making an insurance claim to cover a portion of those expenses.

What’s covered?

The level of cover you select will determine what exactly is covered by your health insurance policy, however there are basic items covered across all levels. Accidental injuries can be claimed no matter what level of insurance cover you have purchased – this means things like snake bites, bone fractures, tendon injuries, fights with other animals and car accidents.

Coverage for illnesses can vary across levels. A number of insurance providers will cover a high portion of illnesses across all policy levels, whereas others will cover accidents-only at the most basic level, followed by accidents and illness at the subsequent level.

For a policy level that covers ‘the works’, comprehensive cover is designed to give cat-owners optimum peace of mind. In addition to accidental injuries and illnesses, this level typically also covers extra treatments such as tick paralysis and routine care.

What isn’t covered?

In Australia, pet insurance providers do not cover pre-existing conditions. These may be temporary or permanent conditions, but at the crux of it, you cannot seek coverage for injuries or illnesses of which your cat has previously shown symptoms. Rather, pet insurance is built around covering costs for any future treatments your cat may receive. If this weren’t the case, many people would likely only take our insurance after their four-legged friend needed treatment, which would inevitably cause a flow-on effect of increased premiums for all pet-owners.

Other conditions pet insurance policies do not cover include dental procedures and diseases, elective treatments such as nail clipping or cosmetic procedures, and deliberate injuries or gross negligence.

How long until my insurance policy is effective?

All cat insurance providers have waiting periods. This refers to the time between signing your insurance policy and the date of which coverage commences. Such measures are in place to prevent people from making large claims just after joining and then proceeding to cancel their policy.

While the exact timeframe of waiting periods varies between insurance providers, it can be helpful to break it down into two main periods and their general waiting periods: 30 days for illnesses, and six months for cruciate ligament conditions. Importantly, insurance providers do not include a waiting period for accidental injuries.