Seven tips for purchasing pet insurance

Seven tips for purchasing pet insurance

These tips will help you choose the right cover for your furbaby.

Pet Insurance tips

Owning a pet is a joy in this age of stress and anxiety: there is (almost) nothing better than coming home after a long day in the office to the happy greeting of a beloved pet. Not so beloved, however, are the increasing and seemingly exorbitant costs of proper veterinary care. 

A simple spay of a single cat can cost over R1,000, depending on your veterinarian, not to mention the cost of vaccinations, deworming, treating illnesses, and emergency care. These rising costs have inspired a slew of pet health insurance products available in South Africa. 

Pet insurance policies are more straightforward than health plans for humans: they usually only cover emergency treatment, illness, and health maintenance. The policies also differ from company to company and sometimes even pet, with many being limited to only supporting the health of cats and dogs.

Many insurance companies have jumped on the pet insurance bandwagon, such as Hollard, OnePlan, and Petsure, but how do you know which plan is best for you? 

Follow these seven tips:

1. Be wary of age restrictions. Many pet insurance providers only provide cover up until a certain age, which means you’ll not be saving any money on those end-of-life issues, including euthanasia.

2. Watch out for the limit on vet fee coverage. Benefits are paid according to the South African Veterinary Council Guideline of Fees, which may not cover your actual vet costs.

3. Prepare to have your pet microchipped or tattooed as this may serve as your pet’s medical aid card. The upside to this is that you may be allowed to use any licenced veterinarian in South Africa.

4. There are generally three levels of care you can apply for: only for accidents; for accidents and illness; and for both of these with the addition of routine care. If your pet suffers from recurring conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, ensure you have lifetime cover, or you might not be able to claim for the same condition in the future.

5. Remember you need to pay the vet first and then submit your invoices to claim from your insurer, meaning you may not be entirely refunded.

6. Be aware of exclusions: some plans may pay for illness and emergency care, as well as preventative care, but not for pre-existing, congenital, or behavioural conditions, or elective procedures.

7. Do your research, and always remember that any insurance is really for your peace of mind.

How much can you expect to pay? Premiums for dogs are slightly higher than for cats. Insuring one dog will cost an average of R180 a month, while insuring one cat will cost around R170 per month, depending on your level of care. The premium decreases with every pet added on.

Now the question is: how important is your furbaby to you?

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