Finding the best pet medical aid in South Africa

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It might seem strange to be reading about pet medical aid on a financial blog; but have you ever considered the financial stress of a medical emergency for your pet? Even just “normal” visits to the vet can be expensive, so pet medical aid is certainly something worth thinking about.

Xena the princess warrior

Here is my kitty, Xena the Princess Warrior. I haven’t taken out any medical aid for her yet and I’ve been very lucky regarding expenses. But, there is a risk and it’s something worth considering when looking at things like my Emergency Fund or even my cash flow.

So before we look at what pet insurance providers there are in South Africa, and what they offer, let’s start off with a bit about what pet medical insurance is, how it works, and why you might want it.

A quick rundown on pet insurance

Pet medical insurance is no different to the medical aid that we all know and understand. You pay a monthly premium to an insurance company, and for that, you insure your pet against any veterinary costs that might arise as a result of an accident or illness. And like all medical aids, there are various options and lots of fine print to get through.

So, why would you want pet insurance?

Well, owning pets can be expensive if tragedy strikes. It’s not unheard of for urgent vet care to cost upward of R15,000. It might be far easier to stomach a R300 per month premium than forking out R15,000 out of nowhere. Whether or not you choose to take out pet medical insurance should be no different to taking out cover for yourself, in the sense that you’re looking to mitigate the risk of a sudden, unplanned, and expensive medical cost arising.

And then of course, there is price.

Price alone should not influence your decision for almost all financial products, but all else being equal, paying less for something does make complete sense. Not all insurance products are perfect substitutes and just because one is cheaper than another, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for your needs. It’s always best to compare and interrogate the characteristics of an insurance policy, find those that meet your needs, then find the cheapest from the remaining providers.

Why now – why pet insurance?

Well, like medical costs in general, veterinary costs are becoming more and more expensive and rising higher than general inflation, which then starts to create the need for products like this to exist, and for pet owners to start considering this risk.

The all-knowing table of enlightenment (in alphabetical order)

I decided after a bit of research to share the results with a table along with a brief run-down of each provider below the table.

You can click on the images to see a slightly larger version.

Dog insurance comparison table

Cat insurance comparison table

DogSure
DogSure seem to be the best beating other providers on 5 out of 8 categories. All-in-all, a comprehensive and market-leading product.

Dotsure
Dotsure (not “Dog” – I guess the domain was taken)
Dotsure have an interesting marketing strategy and they allow you to choose what premium you would like to pay. But, you will definitely get what you pay for. So, for this comparison I took their flagship product which costs R360 per month. Their excess is lower than the other providers, and other than that they appear to offer a comparable product to the other providers, but for Dogsure, who rank best when it comes to limitations on claiming both at an annual and individual claims basis.

Medipet
Medipet have been around for a while and were one of the earlier providers. Their product, while not the most expensive, is on the upper end of the cost spectrum. Their excess is higher, but you do have the comfort that you’re dealing with a company that has been around for a while.

Rogz
Rogz are more well-known for their range of pet products. Their product does not seem particularly compelling in terms of any one category.

Conclusion

If hedging your exposure to potentially large vet bills is something that appeals to you, then investigate if pet medical insurance is for you. It comes down to whether or not you could manage a R15,000 vet bill, and/or whether a relatively small monthly premium is something you’re prepared to pay.

The products themselves are quite simple and easy to understand and most of the fine print can be understood from the providers’ websites alone.

In so far as product providers fair, DogSure appear to currently offer the most compelling product in most categories. Like most insurance products, policy wording and terms get revised every year, so if you do go with one of the providers, best reassess your choice every year or two to see if the market has changed.

DISCLAIMER: Based on what I can find I’ve listed the top 5 Pet Insurance providers in alphabetical order and compared them on 8 of most important points when selecting cover for your pet. The information was obtained from the relevant providers websites and available policy wording at the time of my research. I’m no expert in the matter, so please do your own research.

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