Is Pet Insurance Right For You?

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Humans began the process of domesticating wolves into dogs approximately 14 000 years ago, while the house cat, has been around for at least 4 000 years. Initially these animals were bred to help us, today it’s up to us to feed and take care of our furry friends.

The problem is the price tag attached to many pet medical procedures. Pet insurance is becoming a more popular option for pet owners so they can afford to take care of their pet when catastrophe hits.

The advances made in veterinary science and medical technology mean that our pets are living much longer than they ever have before, and can be protected from many of the diseases that prey on animals.

According to veterinary surgeon, Dr Conrad Prins in an article on Health24*, veterinary medicine can now offer pets a similar standard of care to what humans receive.

The trouble is that often cost is a major factor and the animal needs to be euthanized which can be devastating for the pet owner, and an unpleasant task for the vet.

What does pet insurance entail?

There are a few options available, compare them before making a decision. Two of the leading pet insurance options are MediPet-SA and Petsure, the Hollard option.

With Petsure you can insure your dogs and cats for accidental injury cover only, at only R105 per month for a dog and R95 per month for a cat.

To cover your dog or cat for injury and disease will between R150 per month to R200 per month depending on the product, this option is available through any of the pet insurance options.

At MediPet-SA the package is slightly cheaper if you pay an annual fee, which is the monthly fee multiplied by ten rather than by twelve.

Coverage for cats is cheaper than for dogs. Within the various products the following is generally covered:

  • Accidental injury
  • Illness, although not hereditary or pre-existing illness
  • Operations, with some exceptions (see next paragraph)
  • Kennels, catteries and pet sitters
  • Sometimes contribute toward advertising and rewards when pets go missing
  • Some offer a death insurance

What is not covered?

It is important to note a number of procedures that are generally not covered by pet insurance:

  • Routine care like check ups or vaccinations
  • Pregnancy and related treatment or procedures: to be noted by breeders
  • Grooming
  • Hereditary or congenital defects like hip dysplasia
  • Preventable diseases like cat flu or worms
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Behavioural treatment
  • Special or prescription foods

Deciding if pet insurance is right for you

Ultimately the decision should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

*References: Health24: http://www.health24.com/medical/Focus_centres/777-2268-2552-2587,62326.asp

Image of adopted dogCase 1: Anxious Gimli

Michelle Simon adopted a dog from a rescue shelter a few years ago, and while she loves Gimli with all her heart, he is a dog with problems.

A history of abuse means Gimli lives with various fears and anxieties that make him unpredictable and prone to attack if pushed in a corner. A poor diet as a puppy means Gimli suffers from arthritis and hip dysplasia.

He needs to visit the vet around twice a year on top of his routine check ups and vaccinations. Michelle doesn’t believe that pet insurance will make a difference.

“I pay about R700 per visit to the vet, which is either equal to, or less than what I would pay for his veterinary bills anyway, but with insurance I would have to pay the excess, also, because Gimli suffers from congenital disease the insurance would not even cover everything so I would be paying vets bills along with a monthly fee.”

If pet insurance paid for pet behavioural therapy Michelle might consider it.

“Gimli has had a lot of problems over the years, it was difficult to go for walks because of his fears. We have overcome most of them, but had I been able to afford it I would definitely have taken him for behavioural therapy, just to make life easier for him.”

Image of Basset hound Case 2: Basset Bella

For Bryn van Vuuren pet insurance makes perfect sense.

Earlier this year, his excitable Basset Hound, Bella, ate a rock, and ended up in surgery to remove the rock and repair the internal damage caused. The whole process cost Bryn R4 000.

Had Bryn taken out pet insurance he would have saved a substantial amount of money, R1 650 for the year’s cover, and then R200 excess for the procedure means Bryn could have paid less than half of what he did end up paying.

Over to you

Do you think your pet needs insurance? Comment to let me know.

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About Author

Natalie Simon is a freelance writer and journalism student. She holds an Honours degree in Political Studies from Wits University and UCT. She writes for a wide variety of websites, on topics as varied as financial management and animal conservation.