The value of health insurance for your pet

There is a well-known quote that goes as follows: “He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

It is unclear who said this, but it does sound a bit like this person had pet health insurance in mind when he said it. After all, what better way is there to be worthy of his devotion than making sure he is cared for when he is feeling his worst?

Thanks to advances in medical care and nutrition, pets are generally healthier these days. But will you be prepared if the unforeseen happens? Pet health insurance is also fantastic to fall back on during those times when your pet might look a bit ill, but the potential costs are keeping you from taking him to the vet.

There are a variety of pet insurance funds available in South Africa. Taking some time to research will greatly assist you in finding a fund that will suit both your pet and your pocket. There are usually between two and five different plans including a mortality cover or accidental injury cover. This tends to be the cheapest of all the plans and will cover your pet if he gets injured by accident. Should he get sick, this option will not cover him. The remaining options cover most things and are not that much more expensive than the accidental injury plan.

How does it work?

Premiums differ between the various pet medical insurers on the market, and can be paid monthly or as one annual payment. They are either standardised or calculated based on the level of cover you choose. Just like with some human health insurance plans, in some cases pre-existing medical conditions can be excluded as well as breed-specific genetic diseases. Some pet health insurance plans allow you to cover second and more pets on discounted rates.

Take note of how claims work when you sign up for your plan. Many pet health policies require the owner to cover the veterinarian’s account and then afterwards submit a claim to the insurer. They will then compensate you after calculating which payments are not covered by the scheme.

Having been established in 2007 already and serving a pet client base of more than 11,000 pets, Medipet is an example of pet health insurance that offers complete cover without exclusions for breed or hereditary conditions. They do not, however, cover pregnancy, grooming, elective procedures, pre-existing conditions, food (unless prescribed by your vet to clear up a medical condition) or routine care. The exclusions keep your premiums low.

With Medipet you can take your pet to any registered vet in the country, and claiming is as simple as completing a claim form and attaching the vet bills, and your claim will be processed within 15 working days.

Something to think about

It’s easy to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but the fact is that accidents can happen in a heartbeat – to anyone. Insurance is often a lot of money to spend ‘just in case’, but when something does go wrong, you will be endlessly relieved that you do have it. When it comes to your pets, the premiums are in most cases much less than other kinds of insurance. Is it really too much to ask for a beloved animal who would risk his life for you? The decision is yours.

Is it worth it?

This is of course a highly personal question and the answer will depend on the circumstances of the pet owner. It is, however, also true that your pet is part of your family, and it is your responsibility to make sure that he does not have to endure any suffering.

Yes, if something goes wrong medical expenses can go through the roof. Health insurance for pets is generally cheaper than the same for humans, and considering that, it is definitely worth it to be covered. If the worst does happen, money will be one less thing to worry about.

Checklist

  • Ensure that you fully understand what will and won’t be covered on your chosen plan.
  • Some pet insurance plans are age-dependent. Make sure you know from which age your pet will be covered and if an older pet qualifies for cover.
  • Time to read through your policy. Don’t be shy to ask if there is anything you don’t understand.
  • Check whether certain illnesses are excluded.
  • Make yourself familiar with excess amounts that you may need to pay per claim.
  • Find out whether there is a waiting period after the commencement date of your policy.