What is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, but what is it and why should you consider it?
Pet insurance is a product that covers your pet’s medical expenses when they need to be treated for illness or injury. They’re available as either an annual policy or a monthly payment plan and can give you peace of mind for those times when things don’t go as planned.
According to the Association of Pet Insurers, pet insurance is an important part of veterinary care. In fact, many pet owners say they would not have been able to afford the huge veterinary bills for treatment without having taken out a policy first.
The cost of an individual’s policy will depend on a number of factors. First, it’s important to understand that there are two different types of pet insurance: Accident only and Comprehensive.
Accident Only Pet Insurance will cover any accidental injury. This type of policy will only pay out where there has been accidental injury to your pet. As well as paying for vet fees, it will also cover any other costs associated with the accident, such as vet bills or any medications.
The monthly cost for accident-only policies ranges from R55 to R300 depending on the kind of pet and the level of cover you choose. Some companies offer three levels of cover: Bronze, Silver and Gold. The higher your cover, the higher your monthly premium will be.
Comprehensive Pet Insurance covers all accidents or illness including for example: trip and falls, surgery, dental treatment and injury from unknown causes. This type of policy pays well over the estimated amount you need to pay for treatment and can help tremendously with covering all the extra costs needed after an accident. Some of the more common related expenses that are covered by a comprehensive policy include:
- Cataracts (an eye condition)
- Ear infections (a common problem in noise-sensitive breeds like Shih Tzu’s and West Highland Whites)
- Fleas and ticks (common problems with indoor cats and dogs)
- Heartworm, which is a parasite that affects the lungs and heart of dogs. It can be treated, but it will require a number of appointments with your vet. Without an accident only policy, these treatments would be extremely expensive. The monthly cost for these treatments can range from R310 to R1350 depending on your vet.
- Diabetes, a common disease in cats that can lead to expensive complications if not treated early. Diabetes treatments are often prescribed by a vet on an ongoing basis which will cost between R48 and R638 per month for a cat depending on the frequency of treatment.
It is important to note, however, that some companies have a waiting period before you can claim on the policy, which means that any accident or illness that happens within this time will not be covered.
The monthly costs for comprehensive pet insurance policies varies from R230 to R850 depending on your pet’s medical history and the level of cover you choose to include.
It’s easy to get started with pet insurance. You can just fill out a single form with the BetterMoney Insurance Comparison Engine and we will provide dozens of instant quotes for comparison.
Is Pet Insurance the same as Pet Medical Aid?
It’s common for pet owners to be confused about the differences between pet insurance and pet Medical Aid. Pet insurance and Pet
Medical Aid are both the same product in terms of the South African market. The confusion primarily stems from the fact that Pet Medical Aid has been around longer as a term, and because it's a more widely accepted term. Pet insurance or PetMedical Aid are all essentially the same products.
Comparing Pet in Insurance Companies in South Africa
A lot of South Africans don’t have pet insurance, and we realise this is a major problem. This means that when their pets get sick, they have to spend huge amounts on vet bills – out of pocket. If you can’t afford it, your pet will probably be put to sleep because you can’t afford the treatment! And going without any form of pet cover is a terrible idea; something like 90% of households in SA own at least one animal.
In order to provide a more visual guide we’ve compiled this list for some of the top things you need to consider when comparing pet insurance cover providers.
- Annual Limit: This refers to the maximum amount for which a pet owner can be compensated from their insurance company for treatment costs that are incurred throughout the year, if and when the insured has not exceeded the limit.
- Out-of-pocket expense limit: This refers to the maximum amount of money that a pet owner can be compensated for treatment costs incurred in one year, if and when the insured has exceeded the Annual Limit.
- Deductible amount: This is a fixed amount of money that you can incur for your pet’s treatment without having to make a claim on your insurance policy, depending on what kind of insurance policy it is (see below). The ‘deductible amount’ may increase with age or weight of your pet.
- Prescription coverage plans: This refers to the maximum amount of the prescription that can be covered each year, depending on whether you have a plan or are only covered for veterinary fees
- Surge protection plan (covering emergency visits): This refers to plans that cover emergency hospital visits for your pet, in the event of an accident or illness when they are not being treated in their own home
The ‘surge’ in this instance mostly refers to how much an insurance company is prepared to pay you if they have to cover a policyholder’s costs in the event of their pet’s illness/injury requiring treatment.
- In-hospital/out-patient plans: A daily or weekly cap (a limit on how much can be charged to an insurance company) is placed on the number of times a pet owner can visit their vet in a year.
- Claim limits per year: The average annual amount that insurance companies pay to policyholders per year for treatment of their pet, regardless of how many times they visit the vet.
- Option Benefits: These are perks your pet insurance policy may offer – additional benefits (in addition to those listed above), including allowing you to claim for alternative therapies, and even ‘alternative medicines’.
Cheap Pet Insurance Providers in South Africa
DotSure Pet Insurance is a South African pet insurance company that aims to provide the best protection for your furry friends. The company provides a variety of cover types including Accident, Cancer, and Chronic Illness and Preventative Care. They also offer optional benefits like grooming, alternative medicines and treatments, and board and lodging.
MediPet is a South African pet insurance company that provides various cover types for accidents, cancer, chronic illness, preventative care and prescription medication. They also provide optional benefits like grooming, alternative medications and treatments, board & lodging to name a few. MediPet makes sure that your dog has the best chance of living a healthy life by providing cover for vaccinations as well as flea prevention to help prevent illnesses that can be harmful or even fatal to your dog’s health in the future.
One Plan Pet Insurance
One Plan is a pet insurance company that offers a range of cover types including Accident, Cancer, Chronic Illness and Preventative Care. One Plan also covers the cost of your dog’s vaccinations, flea control and registration fees. If your dog becomes lost and is found you can even claim to cover the costs of advertising for your pet. And finally, if you have an Emotional Support Animal you can also claim to cover its veterinary fees too.
OutSurance Pet Cover
OutSurance Pet Cover is a South African pet insurance company that provides a range of cover types as long as you have either a dog or a cat. They provide cover for accidents, cancer, chronic illness and preventative care, but if your pet is injured in an accident or if you have a dog or cat that has specific health issues then they may be covered for these things too. OutSurance Pet Cover provides optional benefits such as grooming, board & lodging, alternative medicines and treatments, or even emotional support animals so that your pet can be well taken care of at all times.
Checkers Pet Insurance
Checkers Pet Insurance is another pet cover product in South Africa that provides cover for dogs and cats. It has a range of cover types including Accident, Cancer, Chronic Illness and Preventative Care, Alternative Medicine, Dental Treatment, Emergency Hospitalisation/Surgery and Surgical Treatment. They also provide optional benefits such as Board & Lodging. They have optional benefits like Grooming and Alternative Medicines for both veterinary treatments or alternative treatments.