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Pet insurance statistics3

7.1% of dog owners in Australia have pet insurance

3.8% of cat owners in Australia have pet insurance

Common Accident and Illness Claims*

Accident or illnessAverage Claim Amount
FY 2019
Multiple fractures$2,066.31
Tick paralysis$1,156.87
Snake bite$2,133.31
Ear infection$883.38
Urinary tract infection$814.49

* PetSure claims data from June 2018 – July 2019. Amounts include GST.

Some of those costs are very expensive for what you might expect to be a standard check-up and medication. The right pet insurance can cover a portion of such costs.

We all know the saying “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. Having the right pet insurance in place may significantly reduce the out-of-pocket expenses for any illness or injury covered by that policy.

What is the purpose of pet insurance?

The purpose of pet insurance is to minimise the overall cost of veterinary expenses to you in the event your dog or cat is injured or becomes ill. Essentially, it helps ensure you aren’t caught out financially should the unexpected happen.

As shown in the tables above, the cost of common pet injuries and illnesses can often be more expensive than expected. And those figures don’t include the price of initial consultations with the vet and the cost of additional and ongoing medications while your pet is recuperating.

There are a range of pet insurance providers on the market, meaning you can compare several different policies and then choose the one that best aligns with your lifestyle, your dog or cat breed and any particular issues that may arise in the future.

But it’s important to note that not all pet insurance policies are created equal. Do your research and choose a provider who is familiar with animal injuries and illnesses and understands the needs — and sometimes unpredictable costs — associated with pet ownership.

The RSPCA, for example, has been a leading advocate for the continued health and wellbeing of all animals around Australia — big or small, furry or scaly. That’s why we offer pet insurance policies for your cat or dog that take into account some of the unique needs of Australian pet owners, with four levels of cover to choose from.

If you only need basic cover, you can take out RSCPA General Accident & Illness Cover and claim up to $11,000 yearly for eligible vet bills (a $2,000 per condition limit applies). But if you prefer comprehensive coverage, you can take out our top level RSPCA Ultimate Plus Accident & Illness Cover and claim up to $20,000 yearly for eligible vet bills, and have the option of a routine care add-on.

What is the average cost of owning a pet vs the average cost of pet insurance over their lifetime?

There’s a lot to consider when determining the cost of owning a pet over the course of its life and then comparing it to the cost of pet insurance.

In terms of the average cost of ownership, ASIC’s MoneySmart details4 that:

  • Dogs, on average, cost $1,475 per year.
  • Cats, on average, cost $1,029 per year.
  • Aussies spend $12.2 billion on pet products and services every year.
  • Food is the biggest cost for pet owners: $622/year for dog owners; $576/year for cat owners.

MoneySmart also states that vet care is the second-highest annual cost for dog and cat owners, after food expenses4. And if you’re unfortunate to have a pet that contracts a serious or chronic illness, you could be forced to make a tough call on whether to spend significant amounts of money on treating the condition. Pet insurance can help by limiting the impact to you financially when situations like this arise.

Learn more about the responsibilities of being a pet owner.

How can insurance reduce pet costs?

RSPCA pet insurance can help reduce your pet costs by reimbursing you up to 80% of eligible vet costs in the unfortunate event that your pet gets sick or injured. While not all policyholders will claim on their pet insurance, pet insurance is there to ensure you have protection against some of the costs of eligible vet expenses should the unexpected happen.

Why is pet insurance important for Australian pet owners?

Pet insurance is important for Australian owners for a variety of reasons. Not only are dogs and cats susceptible to common ailments as well as unexpected injuries from road vehicles and other animals, but there are threats in this country that other pet owners around the world don’t have to endure.

Australian pet owners also have to contend with a range of additional risks to their pets such as (depending on where you live), risks from native wildlife. These can include:

  • Venomous snakes and spiders;
  • Poisonous critters in your backyard like frogs;
  • Lizards;
  • Kangaroos; and
  • Common insects like fleas and ticks

You can use the RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase to read about additional risks in your household and backyard to help make your pet’s environment as safe as possible.

In terms of other basic risks, your dog or cat may contract an ailment such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, hip dysplasia and more.

Note: RSPCA Pet Insurance will have sub-limits, and in some cases, annual condition limits — plus any pre-existing conditions your pet has may not be covered. For more information please refer to the relevant Policy Booklet.

Does pet insurance provide cover if my pet needs surgery?

Many pets around Australia have to undergo surgery at some point in their lives, and the cost of consultations, procedures, medication and recuperation expenses can all add up.

A pet insurance policy can cover a portion of your pet’s surgery costs if it’s an eligible illness or injury — as long as it is not a pre-existing condition or an exclusion.

It’s important to check your pet insurance provider’s relevant Policy Booklet so you know what is and isn’t covered.

If you already have a pet insurance policy, you may be covered for a portion of your eligible vet expenses after surgery. However, if your pet requires surgery and you don’t already have a policy, you may not be able to get cover for it. For more information please refer to the relevant Policy Booklet.

It’s also important to speak with your provider to understand any necessary waiting periods. For example: Accidental injury cover typically starts from 11:59pm on the day your policy commences and covers you for a range of specified accidental injuries.

There is usually a 30-day waiting period for any illness conditions, and cruciate conditions typically have a six-month waiting period. With some insurance providers however, like RSPCA Pet Insurance, you may apply to waive the cruciate ligament waiting period — so speak to your provider to discuss your options.

Should I consider getting pet insurance for my dog?

Considering that dogs are the most common pet in Australia1, many owners choose to take out pet insurance to cover against common injuries that may occur at the park or near busy roads.

The right pet insurance policy can protect your dog against a portion of the costs associated with vet bills due to injury from accidents like dog attacks and car accidents. You can also choose a policy that includes illness coverage. This option means that you may be covered should your dog fall ill to any one of the most common sicknesses inherent in canines.

How can senior Australians benefit from pet insurance?

Research shows that senior Australians who own a pet are more likely to lead healthier and happier lives5. The Baker Medical Research Institution in Melbourne studied seniors with pets over a three-year period and found that they had “lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels” – even accounting for unique personal factors like weight, diet, and whether or not they smoke.

The same study found that the elderly who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia improved their verbal communications when participating in animal-assisted therapy sessions6.

Because many seniors keep pets for company, having the appropriate level of pet insurance can protect them financially in case the unexpected happens and may be something worth considering.

So why is pet insurance important?

Pet insurance provides the peace of mind that your pet can get the best possible care and attention should they suffer a covered illness or accident. After all, you want the best for your dog or cat, and sometimes vet bills can really add up.

By paying a monthly or fortnightly premium for a pet insurance policy, you can rest easy knowing your pet – and your wallet – is better protected should the unexpected occur.

  1. Pet Owners and the Rise of the Fur BabyVet Voice
  2. Each new policy purchased on or after 02/03/2024 is entitled to one month free in your first year of cover (the first month). All quotes provided automatically include this offer. Terms and conditions apply.
  3. Over 600,000 Pet Owners Have Pet InsuranceRoy Morgan
  4. The Cost of a PetAustralian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
  5. The Elderly and Their Beloved PetsGoldage
  6. Pet Ownership and Risk Factors for Cardiovascular DiseaseNCBI