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Pet FAQs

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance provides cover for veterinary fees for injuries and illness. That includes veterinary consultations, specialist care, surgery, diagnostic and post-operative treatment, imaging, prescription medicines and drugs. For full details on Countdown Pet Insurance accident and illness cover, refer to the product policy wording and Quick Cover Guide.

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How is my premium calculated?

Your premium is calculated when your policy begins, and at each policy anniversary (and if you alter your cover). The premium is calculated based on a number of factors, including the risks associated with your pet and the plan you’ve chosen.

For dogs, your premium is calculated using your pets age, breed and plan. There are a number of reasons why some breeds cost more than others, such as genetic pre-disposition, activity levels, even the size of the dog. For cats, your premium is calculated using your pet’s age and plan, not breed.

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What is not covered?

You should refer to the policy wording for full details of all exclusions, but here is a brief summary of a sample of situations where you will not be covered. You will not be covered if the claim results from:

  • a pre-existing condition (known or not), including conditions that develop during the stand down period, unless specifically agreed when applying for cover
  • any illness in the first 21 days or cruciate ligament claims in the first 90 days
  • maltreatment of your pet or failure to protect your pet
  • some infectious diseases (e.g. flu, distemper, calicvirus, herpes, feline leukaemia, etc.)
  • treatment related to elective procedures, cosmetic, congenital conditions, breeding or psychiatric care
  • organ transplant, joint replacement
  • pandemic diseases or failure to vaccinate
  • euthanasia (voluntary or related to exclusions)

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What is a congenital condition?

Congenital anomalies or defects which are present at birth and for which your pet had either:

  • signs or symptoms of the condition prior to your start date of insurance (or the end of the stand down period)
  • signs or symptoms of the condition as determined by us.

Some clinical signs of congenital conditions won't necessarily be apparent until the pet is older.

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Which congenital conditions or developmental defects aren't covered?


Patent ductus arteriousus; Pulmonic stenosis; Aortic stenosis (subaortic stenosis); Tetralogy of Fallot; Atrial septal defect; Ventricular septal defect; Persistent right aortic arch.


Congenital Portosystemic shunt - single shunt; Hepatic microvascular dysplasia (Portal vein hypoplasia); Malocclusion (misalignment of teeth); Under/ over shot jaw; Cleft palate; Atresia ani.


Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (collagen disorders); Excessive skin folds; Dermoid Sinus; Alopecia (since birth).


Brachycephalic airway syndrome: elongated soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules, stenotic nares, laryngeal collapse, hypoplastic trachea; Situs inversus; Pectus excavatum.


Renal aplasia, Ectopic ureter; Persistent penile frenulum; Hypospadia; Deformity of the os penis; Penile hypoplasia; Hermaphroditism; Vestibulovaginal stenosis; Persistent urachus; Pelvic bladder.


Persistent hyperplastic primary viteous; Retinal dysplasia (retinal folds); Collie eye anomaly; Entropion; Trichiasis; Distichiasis; Ectropion; Ectopic cilia; Persistent pupillary membrane.


Caudal occipital malformation syndrome (COMS); Congenital Cerebellar ataxia; Spina bifida; Spinal dysraphism; Congenital deafness.


Kinked or cork screw tail Dwarfism; Umbilical Hernia; Inguinal hernias; Pinnal malformations.

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Does Countdown Pet Insurance cover the costs of my pet’s vaccinations or 

On Countdown Pet Insurance, you can claim back up to $25 for a vaccination or health check. You also have the option to purchase routine care extra, which allows you to claim up to $75 per treatment (up to a total of $150 each year) for day to day treatments, such as vaccinations and de-sexing.

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Does the plan cover inherited conditions?

Yes, Countdown Pet Insurance provides cover for qualifying inherited conditions. These are genetic conditions passed down through the bloodlines from parents and grandparents to their offspring.

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How do I make a claim?

Administration of Pet Insurance policies and claims is handled by Southern Cross Pet Insurance. Here is a summary of how to claim:

  • Download and complete a claim form
  • Attach:
    • the original itemised tax receipt(s) and evidence that payment has been made
    • vet history records (these are vet notes for the vet visit being claimed which include details of diagnosis and treatment).
  • Send it to: Southern Cross Pet Insurance, Private Bag 3240, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240

With Countdown Pet Insurance your vet won’t have to complete and sign any claim forms. And we aim to pay claims as quickly as possible!

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What happens once I have returned the claim form?

Once you submit your insurance claim form, we will assess your claim as quickly as possible and let you know if we need any additional information. If you have any questions give us a call on 0800 800 836.

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What payment options are available?

You can pay for your cover by Direct Debit, Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. Premiums can be paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually.

When paying by direct debit you’ll receive a 2.5% discount. If you’d like to pay by direct debit call us on 0800 800 836.

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Can I cancel my policy?

If you are not entirely satisfied with your policy and want to cancel it, you can do this by calling us on 0800 800 836.

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Can I reduce or increase my cover?

Reductions and increases can be done at renewal time, but you should contact us to discuss the implications for your cover. Any plan changes done at a time other than renewal require you to cancel your policy and start a fresh policy. This means that there will be no cover for any conditions existing at the date of your reduction or increase.

Pets over 6 years of age will not qualify for accidental injury and illness cover where cover with us has not been continuous (for example if there has been a break, lapse or change in the level of cover).

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What if I delete the email with all my documents?

If you accidentally delete the email, just call us on 0800 800 836 and we can re-send the email.

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How do I make a complaint?

If you have a complaint we are happy to discuss it. Please call us on 0800 800 836, or email us on info@southerncrosspet.co.nz. Our Customer Service team will do their best to resolve your issue straight away. However, if they can't sort out the issue, you can contact our Member Relations Manager. For more information on our complaints procedure please click here.

Also, Southern Cross Pet Insurance is a member of the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) scheme, a free, independent service which can help settle any dispute you are unable to resolve with us.

Any dispute or action relating to your policy will be determined in accordance with New Zealand law.

IFSO contact details

Post: P O Box 10 845, Wellington 6143 
Phone: 0800 888 202 
Email: info@ifso.nz 
Website: www.ifso.nz

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Who arranges this insurance?

The Insurance is underwritten by Southern Cross Benefits Limited (trading as Southern Cross Pet Insurance). Only Southern Cross Pet Insurance can approve and accept your policy and will be responsible for the administration, all claims and other matters relating to your policy.

Woolworths New Zealand Limited (Countdown) and Cigna do not guarantee the obligations of the insurer/underwriter, Southern Cross Pet Insurance, and will not be liable if Southern Cross Pet Insurance refuses to pay a claim.

Countdown and Cigna may receive a commission while your policy remains in force.

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Who is Southern Cross Pet Insurance?

Southern Cross Pet Insurance is the trading name for Southern Cross Benefits Limited’s pet insurance business. Southern Cross Benefits Limited is the insurer of this policy.

Southern Cross Benefits Limited has an A (Strong) financial strength rating given by Standard & Poor’s (Australia) Pty Limited.

The rating scale is:

AAA (Extremely Strong)

AA (Very Strong)

A (Strong)

BBB (Good)

BB (Marginal)

B (Weak)

CCC (Very Weak)

CC (Extremely Weak)

SD or D (Selective Default or Default)

R (Regulatory Action)

NR (Not Rated)



Ratings from ‘AA’ to ‘CCC’ may be modified by the addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories. Full details of the rating scale are available at www.standardandpoors.com. Standard & Poor’s is an approved rating agency under the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010.

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Who is Cigna?

Countdown Insurance is backed and promoted by Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand Limited (Cigna).

Cigna New Zealand is a leading specialist provider of insurance products and services including travel insurance, life insurance, identity theft protection, funeral insurance, income protection insurance, accidental death insurance and serious illness insurance.

We’ve been operating in New Zealand for nearly a century, and now protect more than 295,000 New Zealanders with our insurance policies.

Cigna New Zealand is part of Cigna Corporation, a Fortune 500 insurance company and one of the world's largest publicly owned companies.

A copy of Cigna's latest financial statements is available on request.

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Countdown Insurance
is backed by Cigna Life
Insurance New Zealand

Cigna is a leading specialist provider of insurance products and services with over 90 years of insurance experience.