Pet Insurance FAQ
Even if you’re a fairly healthy adult with no chronic illnesses or death-defying hobbies, the satisfaction of having your medical aid cover your hospital bills feels like you’ve somehow gamed life – and won. Now consider your fur babies, who flirt with danger at every turn. They lick first and ask questions later, or they get the zoomies straight into your glass door…
Ah, yes, our fur children are unpredictable little monsters, but we can’t help loving them anyway and including them in the family WhatsApp chat against their will. And because we want to give them the best of care, pet insurance has become a global trend. Here’s everything you need to know about it, from types of cover to the added benefits that help keep them in tip-top shape.
Okay, what exactly is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is almost like medical aid for your four-legged pals (though the conditions for payouts are different and it’s not backed by the same laws and prescribed minimum benefits). Think of pet insurance as a safety net for your bank balance. When your pet gets sick, needs a check-up or runs into a busy road to catch a rat, pet insurance will cover the vet’s bills (minus excess, of course).
What does pet insurance cover?
‘What doesn’t pet insurance cover?’ would be a better question. Basic plans pay out for accidents and illnesses (although they often exclude pre-existing conditions). More comprehensive plans will also cover routine care, like check-ups, vaccinations and deworming. The really bougie ones will spring for things like behavioural therapy, dental care, vet transport (aka a ‘pet taxi’) and even some grooming procedures. Most pet insurers will also foot the bill for a dignified farewell when it’s time for your friend to cross the rainbow bridge.
Just like with your medical aid, you’ll want to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best pet insurance benefits for what you’re paying. We’d suggest using a comparison site to find the best deal before you commit to a company. Now where did we see one of those sites...
What will it cost me?
Ah yes, the big ol’ money question. As with all insurance, there are a number of factors that affect what you’ll be paying. These include the type of pet you have, their age, whether they have pre-existing or chronic conditions, and the total number of pets you want to insure. Ballpark? You’re looking at R100 to R400 in monthly premiums.
What’s up with waiting periods?
First up, what is a waiting period? It’s a specific period of time that has to elapse before your insurance plan will begin to cover your bills (although there’s usually no waiting period for accident cover). This stops people from waiting around until their pet gets sick and only then trying to find someone to take care of the cost. Waiting periods differ depending on the kind of claim, the plan you’re on and the insurer you’re with, but they could be anything from 30 days to a few months. Always read the fine print!
Does my indoor pet really need insurance?
Yes, even your pet who you’re secretly jealous of because all they do is eat, sleep and live rent free in your home needs pet insurance. Sure, they’re less at risk than an outdoor cat or dog but they aren’t immune to danger. There’s plenty of trouble they can get into in the comfort of your home, like licking up detergent spills, chewing a pot plant you didn’t realise was toxic or taking an uncharacteristically clumsy tumble out of a window. With all that potential roguery, you’ll kick yourself for not planning ahead and insuring them, no matter how innocent they look curled up on the couch right now.
If my pet was sick before I got insurance, can I still get them covered?
You can insure your pet at almost any time – your policy just may not pay out for a pre-existing medical condition. A pre-existing condition is an illness or injury that your pet showed symptoms of prior to your signing up for pet insurance. Your insurer may enforce a waiting period before paying for treatment related to this condition, or they may exclude it completely from your cover.
We know what some of you are thinking: ‘I’ll just lie and say Rex is in perfect health.’ Not a good idea. That’s called fraud, and when you’re found out you won’t see any payouts (even for unrelated conditions or accidents) and you’ll probably struggle to find anyone to insure you in future. Honesty is literally part of the policy here.
Are my senior pets eligible for pet insurance?
Most insurers have age limits on their policies, since very young and senior pets come with a higher risk of racking up those vet’s bills. The industry average is a minimum of eight weeks old and a maximum of eight years, but double-check with the company you’re flirting with. This doesn’t mean that your senior pet is left in the lurch though: older pets may not be eligible for comprehensive cover and routine care, but you could still claim for accidents.
What are the best pet insurance plans right now?
What’s hot right now are plans that are tailored both to your pet and to your budget. With BetterCompare’s pet insurance comparison tool, you can take your pick from our range of incredible partners. Perhaps you need all the bells and whistles because your pups are long-lost cousins of the royal corgis, or maybe you just want the four-legged equivalent of a hospital plan because your pet is on the accident-prone side. We’ll help you find the plan that’s right for you, your fur baby and your wallet.
By comparing multiple insurers’ offers, you can get the most out of your pet insurance. Look out for money-saving features like multi-pet discounts, lowered premiums due to increased excess, discounts for pets under a certain age, or cheaper premiums if your pet is in great health.
Can I have multiple pet insurance policies?
There is no law against having multiple policies, but that doesn’t mean you get a triple or quadruple payday every time you’re faced with a vet’s bill. Insurers will simply apply limits to your payouts based on your portfolio of policies. You don’t want to get into a situation where your monthly premiums for all your policies end up being more expensive than what you’re being paid out. Plus with all the paperwork, your pet could end up paying the price for human legalities and mix-ups. One good, tailored policy is better than a whole lot of red tape.
How much will I save?
We hate to be vague, but the answer here is ‘probably quite a lot’. You could get lucky and have a pet that never gets sick or injured. Or they could have a misadventure tomorrow that lands you with R25k in vet’s bills during Janu-worry (oh dear). Do you want to roll the dice on that smushy little face’s future?
Will pet insurance cover spaying/neutering?
Yes, most pet insurers cover the sterilisation of cats and dogs, as this is highly recommended for your pet’s health.
Okay seriously… Is pet insurance really worth getting?
Owning a pet is about more than cuddles and poop duty. It also comes with the responsibility of lifetime care – and costs. Vet costs can become increasingly expensive as your pets get older or more adventurous, so pet insurance is the perfect way to make sure that you’re never stuck with a bill you can't budge. You never know what lies ahead for your pet’s health, so being in the driver's seat financially is the best decision that you can make. Seeing your pet happy and healthy? Purriceless
Tired of buying pet toys that just gather dust while they play with the box? Rather give them the gift of being covered on rainy days. We all wish our pets would outlive us instead of the other way around, but the next best thing is making sure they’re in tip-top health for all the years we have together – without you having to bear the brunt of gut-wrenching, unexpected medical costs.
You’re only three minutes away from getting the best care for your pets by comparing pet insurance quotes with us.
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