Ultimate guide to comparing pet insurance in 2021

Ultimate guide to getting the best pet insurance

From the cost of pet food, toys and other pet supplies to astronomical vet bills, owning a pet can cost a small fortune. But if we insure our cars, homes and other expensive possessions, why wouldn’t we insure the lives of our furry friends?

Not only are our pets affectionate living beings, but they’re often our most dependent family members, too. And they should never have to miss out on getting proper medical attention when they need it due to financial circumstances.

Which is why more and more Australians are taking out pet insurance - to ensure their financial situation doesn’t determine whether or not their pet receives treatment when they’re ill or injured.

So, if you’re considering taking out a policy for your four-legged friend, here’s a guide on what you need to know about pet insurance.

What is pet insurance?

You’d never want to be in a position where you have to make drastic decisions around the life of your pet, based soley on finances. Pet insurance can help cover the cost of vet bills to make sure your sick pet can receive the medical treatment they deserve.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance providers in Australia

You’ll have several options when choosing and comparing pet insurance. Here’s a look at some of the specialist pet insurance brands available so that you can compare offers and essential policy information.

Pet Insurance Australia Pet Insurance*
  • Multi-award winner for exceptional value pet insurance
  • Choice of excess
  • Two months FREE insurance when you sign up via Mozo!

What you need to know: 
Pet Insurance Australia has consistently topped the Mozo Experts Choice Awards^ winners list for its exceptional value insurance. There is a choice of policy options including essential cover, comprehensive and major medical cover so that you can select an option based on your pet’s needs and your budget. There is an annual benefit limit of $6,000 for Essentials cover ($1,000 annual condition limit) and up to $15,145 on Major Medical cover. You’ll have a choice of excess and peace of mind knowing that your pet could be covered for both accidental injury and illness (some waiting periods and exclusions apply). And when you sign up today, you'll get the equivalent of two months shaved off your premium for the first year (T&Cs apply to all discounts).

Knose Pet Insurance*
  • Award-winning pet insurance cover
  • $25,000 annual benefit limit
  • Pet insurance PLUS pet care plan options
  • 5% discount with Mozo!

What you need to know:
A multi award-winner in the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards^, Knose Pet Insurance offers exceptional value to Aussie pet owners. Developed with the help of vets, Knose has kept its policy simple and easy to understand. There is a single Annual Benefit Limit of $25,000 with policyholders choosing their desired Benefit Percentage (70%, 80% or 90%) to cover that portion of Vet Costs of valid claims. Optional extras include Dental Illness, Alternative Therapies and Behavioural Problems. (waiting periods may apply). To be eligible for cover, your pet needs to be at least 6 weeks and less than 9 years when starting insurance. Knose also offers a pet car plan option which for a flat monthly fee can include flea, tick and worming medication, regular check-ups, vaccinations, nail clippings, and more. Plus, right now Knose is offering a 5% discount with Mozo. To get the discount either click the 'go to site' button above or enter the promo code: MOZO5 at the Knose checkout.

Budget Direct Budget Direct Pet Insurance *
  • Get 15% off your first year’s premium for policies purchased online
  • Additional 5% multipet discount
  • Cover for all orthopedic conditions (T&Cs and sub-limits apply)

What you need to know:
Budget Direct offers pet insurance for your dog or cat which covers them for both accidental injury or illness. You don’t have to worry about which Vet to take your pet if they get ill or injured, you can take your pet to any qualified and registered vet in Australia. Budget Direct covers all orthopedic conditions but sub limits and exclusions do apply so be sure you read the PDS thoroughly. The policy covers up to 80% of the cost of eligible vet expenses, up to a $12,000 annual cover limit (sub-limits apply). Some waiting periods do apply and if you need to make a claim, for every unrelated condition there is a $100 excess. For further treatments for a related condition during the same period of cover there is no excess. By signing up online you’ll get a 15% discount on your first year’s premium and if you own multiple pets, you’ll receive a 5% discount for each of them when insuring them at the same time (Ts&Cs apply to all discounts).

More Pet Insurance options

  • 1300 Insurance* - Accident only cover. Covers your pets in the event of an accident, like motor accidents, spider or snake bites or electrocution. Cover for up to 75% of vet bills, up to $10,000 every year. $0 excess on claim. Option to use the services of any vet in Australia.Up to $500 emergency boarding for your pet if you are hospitalised.
  • RAC*- Accident and Illness cover. Provides cover for cats and dogs. Key features include: $12,000 annual benefit limit, Cover for up to 80% of eligible vet costs. Emergency boarding up to $1,000.
  • Bupa* - Ultimate Policy. A high annual benefit of $20,000, a high benefit percentage of 80% and the ability to vary your excess. Option of adding dental illness cover and routine care cover for procedures like worming and vaccinations.

*Terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits may apply to any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. These terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits could affect the level of benefits and cover available under any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. Please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and the Target Market Determination on the provider's website for further information before making any decisions about an insurance product.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards

How does pet insurance work?

It can vary depending on the insurance policy and the provider the policy is with. So, for the most accurate understanding of how pet insurance policy works, it’s important that you carefully read the product disclosure statement (PDS).

That being said, the way pet insurance generally works in Australia is you’d first take out a policy with your chosen insurance provider which you’d pay either a monthly or annual premium on. Then if your pet gets injured or ill (not from a pre-existing condition), you’d seek medical treatment from a licensed vet.

Depending on your policy and provider you would then be required to pay the full amount to the vet directly and make a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement. This can potentially be as much as 85% of the total cost (or up to $20,000 per year), based on current numbers from several popular providers.

What types of pet insurance are there?

There are different types of pet insurance available, although the most common types are cat insurance and dog insurance. It’s important to carefully consider both your pet’s needs and your own financial situation when choosing. Here are some of the different types available:

What types of pet insurance are there?

Accident-only insurance:

Accident-only insurance covers vet costs incurred when your four-legged friend’s involved in an accident. Injuries from car accidents, fights with other animals, burns or snake bites are typically covered under this policy type. However, be sure to read the PDS as an accident-only policy doesn’t cover all accidents.

Accident illness insurance:

This type of insurance covers your cat or dog for various kinds of accidents and illnesses. Covered illnesses usually include cancer, infectious diseases, hereditary illnesses and skin conditions; however, this will depend on your policy and insurance provider.

Be aware that most insurance companies won’t provide cover for pre-existing medical conditions (conditions that your pet already had before being insured), so remember to double-check the PDS just to be sure.

Comprehensive insurance:

A comprehensive pet insurance policy covers your furry-friend for accidents, illness, preventative care, as well as some routine check-ups such as vaccinations and worming, for example.

Optional extra with home contents insurance:

If you have a home and contents insurance policy, then your provider might offer pet insurance as an optional extra. Just remember to check the PDS first before opting in, just in case you’re better off with a more comprehensive stand-alone pet insurance policy.

What animals are covered under pet insurance?

You’ll find that most pet insurance policies usually only provide cover for cats and dogs. So if you have a pet rabbit, hamster, or another type of animal then you’ll need to first check whether your potential provider offers coverage for them.

Some insurance providers will offer special pet insurance policies for other animals - for example, you might be able to insure your pet rabbit under an ‘exotic pet’ policy. Although be aware that not all insurance providers will offer one.

What does pet insurance cover?

This depends on which insurance provider you go with and which policy/cover type you choose. Think about car insurance: you can go for third-party cover, which only covers the other car if you’re involved in an accident, or comprehensive car insurance, which covers both vehicles involved.

Well, pet insurance is similar in that there are different levels of cover available. So, you’ll usually find that a basic policy will offer less coverage than what a more comprehensive policy might provide. As always, remember to check the PDS to determine what is and isn’t covered as it can vary between policy types and providers.

What doesn’t pet insurance cover?*

  • It varies between policies and provider, but here are some of the more common pet insurance exclusions:
  • Pre-existing conditions: So, conditions that your pet showed symptoms of or was diagnosed with prior to you getting insurance.
  • Bilateral conditions: This refers to pre-existing conditions that impact a body part which has two sides, for example, the eyes (left eye and right eye) or ears (left ear and right ear).
  • Elective treatments: Such as de-sexing or orthodonticsTreatment for a disease with a known vaccine
  • Treatment for an illness that has occurred during the mandatory waiting period
  • Vaccinations preventative treatments: Unless your policy includes routine cover, then things like vaccinations or flea and tick treatments may not be covered
  • Conditions that stem from a behavioural issue
  • Conditions that stem from breeding or pregnancy
  • Grooming and cosmetic surgery
  • Pet training
  • Pet food or supplements
  • Dental diseases: Most pet insurance providers won’t cover any dental procedures, however, some may offer additional dental cover.
  • Organ transplants or artificial limb or prosthetics surgery

Keep in mind that some exclusions might only be temporary while others a flat-out no-go, so always read the fine print just to be sure.

How much does pet insurance cost?

There are a lot of factors that can determine the cost of pet insurance. This can include the type of pet you own – cat insurance can often be cheaper than dog insurance – and other factors like the size and age of your pet, the type of cover you choose and whether you add any optional extras to your policy.

Your pet's breed also plays a part in the price of your insurance premium. This is usually because different breeds have different health concerns that are common to them, or might be predisposed to certain risky behaviours. Mozo's 2021 Pet Insurance Report details the different insurance costs of dog breeds, showing Bullmastiffs as the price leaders and terriers as more affordable dogs to insure.

Average cost of pet insurance according to your dogs breed.
Graphic created for the Mozo Pet Insurance Report 2021. Among the cheaper dogs to insure per year are Border Collies, Schnauzers, Pomeranians, Poodles, West Highland White Terriers and Australian Shepherds. At the other end of the price spectrum are Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Great Danes and Dobermans. Whippits, Dachshunds and Pugs are in the middle.

How to find the best pet insurance

Still not sure which pet insurance provider to go with? Luckily our research experts thoroughly analysed multiple policies for the 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards. Check out some of the major winners below.

Graphic showing award-winning pet insurance provider logos in 2021

After winning across multiple categories in the Mozo Experts Choice Awards, these pet insurance providers scooped up the biggest prizes:

  • Knose for Pet Insurance Provider of the Year 2021
  • RACQ for Queensland’s Best Pet Insurance
  • RAC for Western Australia’s Best Pet Insurance

Knose stood out for the value and quality of its pet insurance plan. Plus, as it is available Australia-wide, it also received the top gong for Pet Insurance Provider of the Year. RACQ and RAC were deemed to be standout performers in their respective states.

Those were the overall winners. If you’re looking for something more specific, we reviewed a number of other policies on their value and quality. If you'd like a full breakdown of all the winners across different categories and more info on how we chose these policies, check out the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance methodology report.

Or, for more details on the big winners, read up on the best pet insurance in Australia in 2021.


Is pet insurance worth it?

As the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you ever think insurance is a waste of money, stop and consider the alternative. It's not something we like to think about, but what would you do if your beloved animal got sick or hurt and you couldn't afford to get them the help they needed?

Well, the right pet insurance policy can help give you some peace of mind.

How do I compare pet insurance policies?

Before choosing a pet insurance policy, it's vital to read the PDS to gain a full understanding of inclusions, exclusions, cost and any other terms and conditions involved. This way you'll be better placed to pick the best option for both you and your pet

Here are some of the things to keep in mind:

Budget: When picking a policy, make sure to first assess your income and budget to determine how much you can afford to spend. Not only will this give you insight into which type of cover you should go for, but it will show you whether a monthly or annual premium will suit you better.

Waiting periods: There's usually a set waiting period between your visit to the vet and when you can make a claim. Waiting periods can vary for different types of treatments, so be sure to read up on this in the PDS - it could be a deciding factor as to which policy you go for.

Pre-existing conditions: If your cat or dog has any pre-existing medical conditions then it's super important to disclose this with the insurance company before you take out a policy to ensure transparency and confirm whether your pet will be covered for their illness. Remember to carefully read the PDS to check whether your pet's pre-existing condition will be covered too.

Benefit caps: Make sure you check the PDS on your pet insurance policy to find out what the annual limit is on claims.

Pet breed: Certain illnesses, health risks and character traits are more common among particular breeds of animal. This means that depending on the breed of your pet, insurance might be more expensive or unavailable to them.

Pet age: Most pet insurance providers won't cover pets over the age of eight, so you'll want to get your furry friend insured while they're young. By the same token, some insurance companies will increase your premium as your pet gets older and as they become more of a health risk. So remember to check this before signing up.

What if my pet has a pre-existing condition?

If your pet has a pre-existing medical condition that is not covered by pet insurance, then one option is to purchase an accident-only policy just in case you need to claim on something that is covered.

Alternatively, you might choose to not get pet insurance and open a separate savings account instead that's dedicated to emergency pet expenses and vet bills.

Just be sure to regularly deposit money into the account or set up an automatic monthly or fortnightly debit (depending on when you get paid) so that there's always money there if you need to help your pet.

How do I make a pet insurance claim?

The way you make a claim on your pet insurance policy will depend on your insurance company. Nowadays, though, most insurance claims are done online. This will usually involve you uploading any receipts or other relevant documentation online for your insurance provider to assess.

Keep in mind that if this is your first claim you may be required to provide additional documentation - so check with your insurance provider first.

How do I renew my pet insurance policy?

When you sign up to a pet insurance policy, the policy usually renews automatically each year unless you cancel your policy.

Can you get pet insurance for multiple pets at once?

You sure can! If you've got more than one furry friend running around at home then you'll be happy to know many insurance providers allow cover for multiple pets. You might even score a multi-policy discount with some insurance providers.