Pet insurance is essentially medical insurance for pets. It may not be as comprehensive as a medical aid which most South Africans know but pet insurance does offer significant accident and illness benefits to ensure that you can afford private vet care. Pet insurance or pet cover is a short term insurance product that has become popular in South Africa over the past 15 years. There are now many different pet insurance providers offering various plans. However, the basic financial cover is the same across most insurers and their plans. Pet insurance pays when your pet is injured or ill with higher plans offering you extras like kennel fees in emergency situations.

Are all animals covered under pet insurance?

There is no hard and fast rule as to which creature should or should not be considered a pet. It is entirely up to you but dogs and cats are the most common pets. Some insurers will only cover cats and dogs while others may extend to other mammals and even reptiles. It is important to get clarity from the pet insurer before you sign up for cover.

Whether you were gifted a pet, purchased a puppy or kitten from breeder or opted for a rescue, your pet deserves the best quality care and pet insurance provides you with that luxury. Some pet insurance plans do not insure a specific pet but all the pets in your household who are registered under your name. This may even extend beyond cats and dogs. Age limits on pet insurance can mean that some of your fur kids will not be covered. Always discuss the age factor with your pet insurer and read the fine print.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance is a short term insurance policy that pays for veterinary bills. Only bills for essential treatment, be it due to an injury or illness, are covered. Some pet insurance plans may also cover vaccinations and routine check ups. Non-essential vet costs are usually not included within pet insurance benefits. However, higher plans may include extras like kennel fee cover if the pet owner is incapacitated for any reason and cannot care for the pet for a period of time.

Veterinary bills can be expensive, depending on the nature of the medical care. Some insurers will pay the vet directly while other pet insurers reimburse the pet owner directly. You will have to pay your veterinary bill, take your vet’s invoice and submit it to your insurer. The claim is then assessed and valid claims are paid to you. The reimbursement may not always be 100% of the veterinary bill. Some pet insurance plans have an excess which is similar to a medical aid co-payment.

The excess can vary from 10% to 25% of the vet’s bill. Depending on the plan, there may be a cap on the maximum cover on a single visit. It is important to consider all of these factors when purchasing pet insurance. Fortunately most insurers now have add-ons to cover your excess and higher plans have more extensive benefits which are usually adequate for most pet needs. It may cost a little more in monthly premiums but you will appreciate the benefits when you need to claim for your pet.