Pet Insurance: What you need to know

Pet Insurance: What you need to know

Pet insurance provides pet parents with peace of mind when faced with large or unexpected vet bills. It ensures that our furry family members can receive the best possible medical or surgical care irrespective of the cost.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is akin to human health insurance. There are varying levels of cover from basic ‘accident’ plans that cover unexpected accidents only (e.g., broken bones), all the way up to ‘comprehensive’ plans that cover everything from extensive medical investigations, surgery, rehabilitation, cancer treatment and more.

How do I choose a provider?

Choosing a pet insurance provider is a personal decision, and many factors will influence what you choose, such as the age and breed of your pet, the level of cover you want, and your own financial position. Most pet insurance providers have full details of their available policies online, so we recommend doing some research and obtaining a quote from at least 2 providers prior to signing up. If you have specific concerns or questions, you can contact all of these companies online or by phone.

What Pet Insurance providers are there?

(Information correct at October 2023)

There are several pet insurance providers available. This list contains the most commonly used ones and is provided in alphabetical order. The cost and level of cover may vary based on your individual situation. We recommend obtaining detailed quotes from at least two insurers before committing to a policy.


AA Pet Insurance:

Cove Pet Insurance:


PD Pet Insurance:

PetCover (Previously Pet Plan):

Southern Cross Pet Insurance:

SPCA Pet Insurance:

Tower Pet Insurance:

The Warehouse Pet Insurance:

How much does it cost and how do I pay?

The cost will vary depending on the level of cover you choose – basic ‘accident’ plans will be the cheaper option (but will not cover any illness or disease) whilst ‘comprehensive’ plans will be more expensive but cover a much wider range of conditions and, in some cases, preventive care. Some policies will have a fixed excess that you agree to at the time of signing up, while with others the excess is a percentage of the claimable amount. Payments are made either in a lump sum paid once a year, or in monthly instalments. Many providers will offer a free period of cover for puppies and kittens.

When should I take out Pet Insurance?

We recommend all pets are insured as soon as they are welcomed into your home or while they are still young, to ensure they are covered for accidents or emergencies straight away. Most companies will offer some level of free cover for puppies and kittens while you decide on what policy or level of over is the best fit for you. This will also reduce the chance of ‘pre-existing conditions’ being excluded from your policy. Young pets in particular are great at getting into mischief, and unfortunately this can lead to unexpected and sometimes expensive trips to the vet, so it’s best to organise pet insurance cover as a priority. Many providers will also have a ‘stand down’ period which is the amount of time that must pass before you are able to make a claim. 

How do I make a claim?

The process will differ slightly between providers, but the usual process is to submit a completed claim form along with the relevant medical records (provided to you by the veterinary clinic) and invoice(s). Payment will usually still need to be made in full to the veterinary clinic at the time of treatment, but your pet insurance provider will reimburse the agreed amount to you directly usually within 1-3 weeks.

What about older pets?

Many providers will exclude pre-existing conditions from their policies, but this does not mean taking out pet insurance for an older pet isn’t worthwhile. It will give you piece of mind that any new conditions will be covered, as well as accidents and emergencies that no one can predict. 

What effect does breed have on coverage and premiums?

Most pet insurance in New Zealand covers cats and dogs only, with only one or two providers covering exotic pets. Insurers deal with each cat and dog on a breed-by-breed basis. While the breed of cat will usually not have influence on your premium, the breed of your dog can significantly alter the amount.

Some providers will categorise certain breeds of cats and dogs as ‘high risk’ or simply more expensive to care for. All pet owners should seek advice on their particular breed of pet with any potential insurance provider, but especially those with brachycephalic (short-faced) pets, as you may find the level of cover is not as inclusive as you may need. Congenital and hereditary conditions are excluded from many policies.

What about desexing?

Desexed pets will generally have lower premiums than non-desexed pets. This is because desexing lowers the risk of some preventable illnesses, such as testicular and ovarian cancers, as well as pregnancy complications and injuries sustained whilst ‘roaming’ for a mate.

Will anyone insure my exotic pet (not a cat or dog)?

Unfortunately, pet insurance options for exotic pets are limited in New Zealand. A small number of providers will cover rabbits, but there are currently no options for other small mammals, birds, or reptiles. Rabbit owners may find the plans available are not as comprehensive as the cat and dog options, but it will still provide some peace of mind. We encourage all pet owners, but especially those with exotic pets who are unable to insure them, to always keep money aside for unexpected vet bills.

Pet insurance is there to alleviate the financial stress when deciding what medical and surgical treatment you can afford for your beloved pet. Vet treatments can be expensive at times, as they are not subsidised like human health care, and here at Animates Vetcare we strongly recommend pet insurance for all pet parents.

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