Veterinarians call for more owners to insure their pets

Tuesday , 11 September 2018 by Campbell Gibson

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is calling for more owners to insure their pets so they have more options for treatment and care should their pet get sick or injured.

That’s why the NZVA is partnering with Southern Cross Pet Insurance in the hope of increasing awareness of the benefits of pet insurance for cats and dogs and how it can result in better outcomes for animals.

New Zealand has the second highest rate of pet ownership in the world and is home to nearly two million cats and dogs, but pet insurance rates are low compared to other developed nations, such as the UK.

There are no subsidies for animal health and, in some cases, medical and surgical care for pets can cost thousands of dollars. For example, at just 10 months old, one Labrador puppy insured by Southern Cross Pet Insurance has already undergone more than $4,000 worth of treatment for elbow dysplasia, which causes pain and limping. Through their policy, the owner has been able to claim back $3,227.

NZVA Chief Executive Mark Ward says costs such as these could leave some owners with limited options for treatment and care.

“Kiwis love their pets and want them to have a good quality of life. There’s nothing worse for an owner and their veterinarian than having to choose treatment options based on finances rather than having access to the preferred treatment. In some instances, that may mean having to choose euthanasia for a loved family pet when treatment was an option if the cost could be covered. That’s a terrible decision to have to make for the pet, the owner, and the veterinarian and their support staff,” he says.

“We want pet owners to have the choice of getting the right treatment, should something go wrong for their animal.”

He adds that the partnership will enable the association to arm its members with resources so veterinarians can have informed discussions with their clients about pet insurance in general.

“We chose to partner with Southern Cross because our values align, they listen to feedback and advice from veterinarians, and their policies are market-leading. There is no expectation for our members to sell pet insurance or give advice on what policies are best,” he says.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance General Manager Anthony McPhail says pet insurance is still in its infancy in New Zealand, although owners of cats and dogs are becoming more aware about its benefits.

“In the past year, the number of pet lives we insured grew by 28% to more than 27,000, so it’s clear that Kiwis are beginning to see how pet insurance can improve their animals’ lives. Increasing the awareness and coverage of pet insurance in New Zealand will improve veterinarians’ ability to offer animals the treatment their patients’ need,” he says.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance has also partnered with the SPCA as a sponsor since 2015.