Guiding consumers since 2009

A guide to pet insurance

By Staff Writer
People seldom consider what insurance, if any, to take out on their pets. For some this may even be a ridiculous thought, but for many people, their pets are a member of the family, and they want to do what they can to look after them.

But for those wanting to take out insurance on their furry friends, where do you start, and what is included and excluded in the policy?

Why do people take out pet insurance?

Louise Beevers, director at MediPet dog and cat veterinary insurance, explains: “Responsible pet owners take out pet insurance to help cover their pet’s veterinary expenses arising as result of an accident, sickness, illness or injury.”

Contrary to what some people may think, there are actually several pet insurers, some specialising in specific animals, while others offer insurance to a broader selection of pets.

MediPet

“Medipet is a specialist pet insurance broker and we only offer cover for dogs and cats,” explained Beevers.

Medipet offers customers three different insurance policies. Depending on the policy you choose, your pet will be covered for all accidents, illnesses and emergencies.

“These can range from, but are not limited to, broken bones, upset stomachs, ear infections, skin infections, ruptured ligaments, spinal injuries, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, behavioural issues to name but a few,” reveals Beevers.

Before you take out a policy, your dog or cat will be evaluated on an individual basis, and provided that there are no pre-existing conditions, which will be excluded from the cover, you can pick the option that best suits your needs and wants.

Beevers explains: “There are terms and conditions applicable to all policies and a veterinary history may be obtained from your Vet to establish any pre-existing conditions prior to inception of the policy. There is a 30 day no claims period and a further 30 day 50% co-payment period. All claims are subjected to an excess payment of R200 or 10% whichever is the greater.”

Option 1:Beevers notes that this covers “all accidents, illnesses and emergencies, and is available from eight weeks of age.”

Option 2:“[This option] covers all accidents, illnesses and emergencies, as well as dental cover, a contribution towards specifically prescribed veterinary diets and condolence pay out if your pet should pass away. Option 2 is also available from eight weeks of age,” reveals Beevers.

Accident only policy:For people just wanting to cover their pets in the case of an accident, there is a policy specifically for them. Beevers states: “This covers accidents only and is offered as an alternative to pets that are only joining Medipet after the age of eight years.”

Beevers highlights that once a pet has been signed onto a policy, they are covered for life, provided that all premiums are paid and that the requirements set in the policy are adhered to.

If your pet has a pre-existing condition when applying for insurance, Beevers states that the existing condition will not be covered, however, any future accidents, illnesses and emergencies will be covered by the policy.

Beevers adds: “Medipet covers the cost of euthanasia if due to an illness or an accident, where it is advised to be in the best interest of the pet.”

“In this day and age having your pets insured for those unforeseen veterinary expenses is vital. Costs can escalate so quickly especially with an illness, injury or an accident when diagnostic tests are necessary in coming to a diagnosis – because our pets can’t talk we need to assess through different tests what is actually wrong with them.

“With Medipet you can rest assured that your pet can receive the best veterinary care while you don’t have to worry about the expense. You can go to any vet of your choice when you are insured with Medipet,” says Beevers.

To apply for a Medipet policy, visit the website and sign-up online.

Rogz Pet Insurance

Rogz, a well-known and international brand of pet products and accessories, also offers customers the option to take out pet insurance. It is important to note that while your pet does not need a microchip for you to take out pet insurance, it is a requirement that your pet be chipped in order to claim against the policy.

Option A – accident cover: This option does not have an upper age limit for joining, unlike the other two options that are offered. You have an annual benefit limit of R7 000, with a R2 500 limit per claim. The Rogz website states that the accidents covered include:

·         An accident involving a motor vehicle,
·         An accident resulting in a fracture or broken bone, joint dislocation or a torn ligament,
·         An accident resulting in a burn or caused by electrocution,
·         An injury caused by a fall from an elevated position,
·         An injury as the result of another animal,
·         An accident resulting in lacerations, abrasions or wounds,
·         The swallowing of a foreign object requiring surgical or endoscopic removal, and
·         A snake bit or an allergic reaction to an insect bit.

Option B – accident and illness cover: To be eligible for applying for this option, your pet has to be between eight weeks and eight years of age, however, once covered, your pet is covered for life. You have an annual benefit limit of R30 000.

Option C – accident, illness and routine care:As with option B, the age limit for applying for this policy is between eight weeks and eight years. You also have annual benefit cover of R30 000, and are covered for accidental injury, illness and routine and preventative care. You can claim up to R550 per year on costs relating to routine and preventative care, including:

·         Annual vaccinations,
·         Deworming,
·         Tick and flea control,
·         Dental scaling/polishing (procedure only), and
·         Sterilization.

Each of the policies covers 100% of the tariff rate, which is based on the South African Veterinary Council Guideline of Fees. There is also R200 excess per claim, however, an excess of R300 will be applicable for pets that are younger than 13 months at the time of treatment.

For all of the pet insurance options, you get a multi-pet discount of 10% for the second and subsequent pets that join the policy. You also have a 14 day money back guarantee.

However, the website explains: “You may return your policy to us within 14 (fourteen) days of the start date of your cover. This date is shown on your Certificate of Insurance.”

There is a one calendar month waiting period from the start date of your policy before you can start to make claims against the policy. Furthermore, there is also a six month waiting period for cruciate ligament claims.

“This six month waiting period may be waived if we receive within 14 days of examining your pet, written certification from your vet that they have examined your pet on or after the policy start date and found no signs or evidence of cruciate ligament conditions,” adds the website.

All of the policies also offer emergency boarding, in the event that something happens to the pet’s owner. This costs up to R55 per day.

For more information on Rogz Pet Insurance, click here.

Hollard Pet Insurance (Petsure)

Hollard offers two different categories of pet insurance, one for dogs and cat, and another for horses.

Hollard Pet Insurance offers three options for insuring your dog or cat.

Plan 100: This policy covers 100% of the Petsure tariff and covers accidents and illness. The monthly premiums are R220 for a dog, and R180 for a cat.

You have a maximum claim limit of R40 000 for the year, including hospitalisation, medication, X-rays and consultations. In addition, the policy also covers boarding or cattery fees of up to R950 per annum, with a limit of R70 per day if the owner of the pet is hospitalised for more than four days.

Owners are responsible for paying an excess of “15% of the applicable benefit with a minimum of R150 per claim thereafter benefits are paid at 100% of PetSure's Tariff Rate,” according to the website.

Plan 80: This policy also covers accidents and illness, however, only 80% of the Petsure tariff is covered. The monthly premium for dogs is R185, while for cats it is R160 per month.

With the Plan 80, you have a maximum claim limit of R32 000 per annum. Furthermore, there is an annual limit of R690 for boarding or cattery fees if the owner is hospitalised for more than four days. There is a maximum limit of R70 per day on boarding fees.

As with the Plan 100, there is an excess of “15% of the applicable benefit with a minimum of R150 per claim, thereafter benefits are paid at 80% of PetSure's Tariff Rate.”

Accidental Injury Cover: This option covers accidents only. There is a monthly premium of R120 for dogs, and R110 for cats.

Accidental injury cover has an annual claim limit of R7 000, with a limit of R2 750 per accident. As with the two options above, owners are responsible for a 15% excess payment with a minimum of R150 per claim, after which the “benefits are paid at 100% of PetSure's Tariff Rate.”

The policy also covers boarding or cattery fees up to R690 per annum, with a limit of R70 per day, if the owner is hospitalised for more than four days.

Routine Care Option: For this policy, both dogs and cats have a monthly premium of R50, with an annual benefit limit of R700. There is no excess deductible on these claims.

You can claim against any of the following treatments if they are carried out by a registered veterinarian:

·         Annual vaccinations,
·         Deworming drugs,
·         Flea control drugs,
·         Dental scaling or polishing, and
·         Sterilisation.

You can add this to your Plan 100 or Plan 80 policy that you have taken out, however, it cannot be added to the accidental injury cover.

Hollard Pet Insurance also offers a multi pet discount for all options except the routine care option. Owners with two to three pets insured receive a 10% discount on all pets. If you have four to five pets insured, you get a 15% discount on all pets. For people with six or more pets insured, you get a 20% discount on all pets.

PetSure Equine Medical Insurance: Hollard Pet Insurance also offers insurance for your horse, which covers veterinary fees up to R40 000 per annum for any unexpected or unforeseen illnesses or accidents.

There is a monthly premium of R530 and routine care is included in the policy as an added benefit.

As with the dog and cat insurance, you are responsible for an excess of “15% of the applicable benefit with a minimum of R150 per claim. Thereafter benefits are paid at 100% of the benefit schedule.”

In addition, there is an annual limit of R1 100 on benefits for any procedures carried out that are listed in the PetSure Equine Benefit Schedule. To access the PetSure Equine Benefit Schedule, click here.

For more information on Hollard Pet Insurance, click here.

Exotic pet insurance

There are also insurers who look after pets that are considered to be exotic. For more information on classifying an exotic pet, click here.

Exotic pets can include lizards and birds, which your average vet is not used to dealing with, and which are not native to your country.

However, other animals that may fall into this category are those which would not normally be classed as a pet, such as wild animals, whether or not they are indigenous to your country.

For example, Aon South Africa, together with ONE Financial Services Holdings, offers Rhino Insurance. One of the conditions of insuring the rhino is that the animal receives a horn treatment that is provided by the Rhino Rescue Project, which makes the rhino horn toxic to humans.

Peter Darroll, marketing manager at ONE Financial Services Holdings, said: “A typical rhino is worth about R250 000. Insurance would cost about R8 750 a year on this value, at a rate of between three and five percent. Standard insurance cover excludes cover against death by poaching.”

The cost to treat the rhino horn is dependent upon the location, as well as how many rhino are being treated at one time.
The ONE Financial Services Holdings website states that the cover does not extend to the horn or tusks of the animal.

Tips for picking a pet insurer

Beevers notes that there are several pet insurers out there. However, she adds that it is important for people to know exactly what their pet is covered for.

“There are several pet insurance companies, however they vary dramatically and a lot of them have maximum sub-limits which Medipet does not. Not all pet insurance companies have fully comprehensive cover so reading the small print and phoning around is advised. Remember cheaper does not necessarily mean better.”
 
All costs accurate as of 4 March 2015.
 

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