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Boronia

Australian Pet Insurer Urged To Drop Premium Bills After Death Of Anim

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Boronia   

  • Australian pet insurer urged to drop premium bills after death of animals
    Choice asks Australia's second largest pet insurer to stop forcing owners to pay premiums up to a year after a pet has died
  • Helen Davidson
    theguardian.com, Saturday 8 November 2014 00.01 AEST

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Pet owners should not have to pay insurance premiums up to a year after their pets have died, consumer group Choice says. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP Australia's second largest pet insurer, Petplan, is being urged to change a policy which forces customers to continue to pay premiums for up to a year after their pet has died.

Consumer advocacy group Choice on Saturday launched a campaign for the company, backed by insurer Allianz, to follow in the footsteps of its biggest rival, Petsure.

Petsure amended its own vet insurance policy in April this year after consumer backlash.

Ross McLeod, a 72-year-old retiree from Sydney, is still paying about $100 a month in insurance premiums on two of his dogs which died this year. Lochen, 13 and Skye, six, died unexpectedly of cancer within three months of each other.

"It was really sad," Macleod told Guardian Australia. "It's a vulnerable period, they were our babies.

"We notified [Petplan] in both cases about the dogs having died and then we rang them when we saw we were still getting billed by direct debit."

"They said 'well actually it's in the policy that you have to pay for the rest of the year'. We didn't take it any further at that stage because it was a fairly traumatic time and there didn't seem much point."

He said it was an "objectionable policy" and had he realised what it entailed he and his wife Selvi would have gone with another provider.

"If it was a human there would be a huge outrage if a health insurance company was still asking for money after the person had died," said Macleod.

Monika Hooker, 49, found herself in a similar situation when her British bulldog, Cookie, passed away in August this year.

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Monica Hooker's British bulldog Cookie died in August but she is still paying pet insurance premiums. Photograph: Monica Hooker Cookie had racked up numerous vet bills shortly before he died, so Hooker called Petplan to check that they wouldn't cancel the policy before she could put in claims for them. The woman on the phone told her that would be fine, and she could cancel the policy after and receive a refund on premiums, Hooker told Guardian Australia.

"Even their employees don't understand the policy," she said. "When I got the cheque back and sent an email saying Cookie's passed away … they sent one back saying they can't cancel the policy."

The former insurance worker has since cancelled Petplan insurance on her two other dogs. "You expect an insurance policy to make sense. How can you insure a dog that doesn't exist? Cookie couldn't claim anymore."

Choice's head of media, Tom Godfrey, said: "We continue to receive complaints from distraught pet owners who have been forced to pay premiums for the remainder of their policy period, even in cases where they made a claim but their pet passed away.

"Your family wouldn't expect to pay your health insurance premiums if you passed away so why should pet owners be forced to pay premiums after the death of the family pet?"

Choice is calling on the company to add the phrase "other than the death of your pet" to a clause which states if a client who has made a claim cancels a policy "for whatever reason" they must pay the remaining premium for the period of insurance and Petplan will offer no refunds.

Petplan has been contacted for comment.

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teekay   

Sorry, but this is ridiculous. You are buying a year's insurance and choosing to pay monthly. Of course you have to pay the whole premium if you claim. It's the same for car insurance, house insurance, pretty much any insurance, I would have thought.

There's plenty of other things to moan about with Petplan but not this.

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teekay   

Yes, I do have a bee in my bonnet about Pet Insurance :laugh:

So, I've just had a look at Petsure's PDS (which is Hollards of course) and found this on page 7 of the PDS::

6.5 If you cancel your policy after a claim has been made the remainder of the annual premium is payable immediately upon cancellation notwithstanding the fact that you may have elected to pay your premiums monthly. All or portion of the outstanding annual premium due may be deducted from any claim payment owed to you or, alternatively, charged to your nominated bank/credir card account.

and again:

10.2 When premiums are paid monthly, claims are paid on the strict understanding and agreement by you that the remaining premium for that policy year will be collected

So not sure what Choice is talking about :mad

Edited by teekay

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If you haven't made a claim then petplan will refund it. If you have made a claim, then of course you need to keep paying. You made a 12month commitment to them and petplan have honoured your claim based on that commitment.

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redangel   

I dont see the issue.... say I pay my years fees up front and make claims...they pay the same fee but in monthly installments and make claims. All fair. The insured dog/s die during the financial year...of course the balance of the premium has to be paid! Method of payment are different but agreed cost is the same. Despite not paying upfront the company I assume has paid all claims on that formula. If they want to avoid this- pay up the arrears in a lump sum and move on.

Edited by redangel

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korbin13   

I pay my house and car insurance yearly, as well as health insurance, but if I change insurers half way through the year, I get a refund for the balance of the year.

So if you pay a whole year of pet insurance and the animal dies, you get nothing?

ETA: this includes making claims, I got paid out for damage to my house and the insurer sucked. I got my claim approved, moved insurers, got a refund for the balance of the year. Haven't done it on health insurance though.

Edited by korbin13

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Rebanne   

Sorry, but this is ridiculous. You are buying a year's insurance and choosing to pay monthly. Of course you have to pay the whole premium if you claim. It's the same for car insurance, house insurance, pretty much any insurance, I would have thought.

There's plenty of other things to moan about with Petplan but not this.

Agree totally, you claim you have to pay the policy out

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ness   

No different to a mobile phone "plan" either. If you break your phone before your plan is up you still have to pay out for the full length of the plan.

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Just noticed this...

Important update about our dog & cat policies

At Petplan, we are constantly looking at ways to improve our customer experience and the insurance products we offer. We understand the passion our customers, veterinarians, breeders and the pet community at large have for their pets, because all of our staff are pet owners too!

In light of recent concerns raised by customers that have been highlighted in some sections of the media, Petplan have reviewed a clause in our policy wording. In future, we will not require payment of ongoing monthly premium instalments in the policy year following the death of a pet where a claim has been paid for veterinary costs and/or other medical expenses.

Moving forward, we will continue to offer our customers the most comprehensive pet insurance products in Australia, and are steadfast in our commitment to promoting positive pet health and animal welfare in all our endeavours.

Kind regards,

Doug Ford (QPIB)

Dip Fin Services (Broking)

Managing Director

Petplan Australasia Pty Ltd

W: www.petplan.com.au

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I have been one of those people who had the unfortunate situation of my dog passing away 2 weeks after the policy rolled over (I will stop short of saying the vet actually killed my dog but thats a whole different story). They tried to keep charging me but I just told the credit card company what was happening and they stopped the payments to the insurer. Never heard anything else from them. My home phone, mobile, health insurance are all monthly and can be swapped at any time (after an initial set period) so dont see why dog insurance cant be the same. Its not like home insurance where you normally still have the house.

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teekay   

I have been one of those people who had the unfortunate situation of my dog passing away 2 weeks after the policy rolled over (I will stop short of saying the vet actually killed my dog but thats a whole different story). They tried to keep charging me but I just told the credit card company what was happening and they stopped the payments to the insurer. Never heard anything else from them. My home phone, mobile, health insurance are all monthly and can be swapped at any time (after an initial set period) so dont see why dog insurance cant be the same. Its not like home insurance where you normally still have the house.

What about car insurance if your car is stolen?

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