Coles launches pet insurance with a twist
Exclusive: Coles is entering the pet insurance game for the first time today, vowing to offer shorter waiting periods and pre-pay vets directly for customers' appointments.
The supermarket giant is launching its assault on its rivals, which will leave customers with just the excess to pay on the day of their vet visit.
The new policy options, obtained by News Corp, show the waiting period for claiming bills will be 21 days compared to the standard 30 days offered by other pet insurers.
It will also give customers a year to make a claim.
Excess is $200 across both basic and premium cover with Coles' basic policy covering up to $10,000 and its premium policy covering up to $12,000.
Like most policies the age and breed of pets determines the annual cost but those who claim less will be rewarded with a discount when the policy is renewed.
Existing Flybuys customers who have another Coles financial services product (home, car insurance), can also earn extra points.
However, unlike other insurers, dental procedures are not included.
Coles partnered with Guild Insurance, which is backed by the Australian Vet Association, after asking customers what their major concern was with pet insurance.
Coles Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson told News Corp shoppers said the size of their vet bill was their biggest worry and they found "hidden nasties" in a vet bill.
"Our main point of difference with pet insurance is that we pay approved scheduled vet treatments directly to the vet, meaning that our customers are not left with the entire vet bill," she said.
"This is a unique offering that you won't find at major competitors.
"Aussies also told us they wanted shorter waiting periods, guaranteed lifetime cover for their pets and up to 100 per cent of their vet bills covered.
"So we have taken every step to ensure that both our Basic and Premium products feature these benefits."
Canstar.com.au Group Research Manager Mitchell Watson told News Corp a policy that offers good value is one that is affordable and has a high likelihood of paying a claim.
"Generally Australians can claim back between 60 to 100 per cent of their vet bill up to an average of $25,000 per year," he said.
"Before a claim can be made, a certain waiting period may need to be served. For example the average waiting period for an illness claim is 27 days.
"During this time other claims may be able to be made but any claims relating to illness may not be covered.
"The waiting period for a cruciate ligament procedure is around six months."
By comparison, Mr Watson said the amount of time people have to make a claim will vary among insurers and on average they will require a claim to be submitted within 164 days but this can be as low as 90 days.
He also warned the cost of insurance will generally increase as the pet ages and is potentially more likely to need vet assistance.
Coles' move comes as part of a bigger plan for it to take on the pet food market with more than 55 new food products for dogs and cats including wet, dry and treats being stocked in stores nationally from pet food brands Woofin' Good and Purr.
They are also planning to roll out pet treat bars across the country in some of their stores.
Originally published as Coles launches pet insurance with a twist