Before you get excited (or not), I don't offer Pet Insurance, however I have received many questions about it. So I thought I would offer some thoughts to consider for your independent pet insurance research.
Australians are a nation of animal lovers. According to the Australian Companion Animal Council, we have one of the highest incidences of pet - ownership in the world!
Dogs and cats are our favourites; around 36% of Australian households own a dog, and 23% own a cat. We're familiar with the companionship pets bring, and the social interaction they foster, but there are other benefits too:
- Lowered blood pressure and cholesterol;
- Increased physical activity;
- Strengthened immune system and reduced incidence of allergies and
- Children learn responsibility, empathy and respect.
When considering a pet, you expect costs like food, bedding, the annual vet visit and so forth, but there are other costs you may not have thought about.
Let's start at the beginning. Those purchasing a pet from breeders, could pay anywhere from $100's to $1,000's. Additionally, there are de-sexing, vaccination and microchipping costs.
Conversely, there are fewer surprises from rescued cats and dogs. Shelters are overflowing with abandoned pets seeking a second chance and adoptions cost around $200 (puppies or kittens) or anything from $150 (adult dogs / cats). De- sexing, vaccinations and microchipping are included in the adoption fee.
But that's not the end of it. How much for example will your pet grow and can your weekly grocery budget expand to feed another hungry family member? Standard dog food can cost around $2 per 700g tin. A large dog may require more than one tin a day in addition to dry food and treats.
In most councils, pets must be registered - at a cost. Then you need to think about fencing. Pets must be restricted to your property meaning ensuring your boundaries are securely fenced; cat owners may need to invest in a cat safe enclosure.
Regularly exercising your pet and providing toys to keep them mentally stimulated will assist in preventing costly property damage through boredom or escape attempts. Or if work commitments get in the way of exercising your pet, you may have to consider a local pet walker or pet day care options - which attract fees.
Ongoing health care can be pricey too. According to moneysmart.gov.au, health care estimates start around $3,000 excluding unexpected problems.
Pet insurance policies are widely available and offer cover from $50 per month. As with any insurance, choose wisely. Carefully read the policy document checking for:
- Benefits and limits;
- Eligibility / age limits;
- Pre - existing conditions;
- Excess options and
- Waiting periods / discounts.
Depending on your pet's circumstances, you might opt to regularly contribute to a dedicated account instead, ensuring there is money available when needed.
Reduce costs by keeping your pet healthy and happy through diet, exercise, training and play.
Pet care while you are on holidays is an additional cost. Dog boarding kennels charge from about $40 per day (cats about $20). Alternatively a pet sitter staying in your home could charge anything from $30 per night.
In recent times household expenses have been attracting more scrutiny than ever from financial institutions. Lenders are increasingly antsy about approving loan applications without seeing a full household budget.
When looking to borrow or renegotiate an existing loan, you must know your position. Your financial adviser will help you work through your income and expenses to determine whether a new furry family member will fit your budget.
Pet ownership is a long term financial obligation. But there is no denying its rewards. With pet ownership of 62%, the majority of Australian households would agree.