It might seem strange to be reading about finding the best 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.
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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.
NB: Pet Insurance is like any other insurance in the sense that you need to shop around and try to negotiate as best you can. And you may as well look at your car insurance too while you’re about it! See how I’m saving on my insurance.
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. These are my own findings at the time of writing so as I always say on this blog, do your ow research! Costs, cover, options and all sorts of things change over time so what was good at some point is not necessarily good at another point. Don’t take this as advice but rather see it as a starting point for your own research and see the kinds of questions you should be asking.
You can click on the images to see a slightly larger version.
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. Have a look at why having an Emergency Fund is so important.
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.