Nothing gets a pet parent moving faster than the sound of their beloved furry buddy retching in the middle of the night. Then comes the panicked visit to the vet, exams, tests, and evaluations, and probably a pretty pricey bill to take home. Having pet insurance can go a long way in keeping your bank account in check during such times.
Despite being a relatively new concept in India, pet insurance is pretty standard practice across the world. In fact, India has been insuring cattle, buffaloes, and even elephants. But now, for pet parents, insurance is provided for dogs, cats, exotic birds, and also to Indie breeds by various popular companies like New India Assurance, United India, Oriental, and Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.
Here’s a brief introduction to everything you need to know about pet insurance.
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is pretty similar to our health insurance. It covers a range of veterinary services from general consultations, nutritional counselling, medical and surgical interventions, emergency care, geriatric advice, and more. It also includes protection from losses by theft or accidents.
Why you need it
Your pet is just like another family member, and requires the same level of care at times, more. By providing them with insurance, you are ensuring that they get to live a quality life. Whether it’s a routine vaccination and deworming, a fracture from jumping off the couch or a chronic condition like kidney disease, pet insurance can go a long way in helping you save up on those veterinary bills. Based on your plan, they might even cover hospitalization charges pre- and post-surgery.
From a veterinarian's point of view, unexpected illnesses and accidents might require extensive diagnostics and consults for a definitive diagnosis. This is then followed up by treatments and/or surgeries over a long period of time. This sudden cost can be overwhelming for most people, placing them in a difficult situation. The inability to provide care for your pet might result in financial, mental, and emotional stress. So why not simply insure them?
Age of animals covered under pet insurance
Pups and kittens from just 8 weeks can be insured till around 8 years of age. But all this depends on the breed, size, and general health status of your fur baby.
What kinds of pet insurance policies are there?
Usually, these are limited by money (cover for a certain amount); limited by time (cover for the duration of an illness or injury only); accident-only insurance (covers sudden accidents); and lifetime Insurance (for the entire lifespan of your pet).
How much can pet insurance cost?
Pet insurance depends on a multitude of factors like age, size (small or large-sized), breed, and even the residence in which you live. The average costs incurred might be upwards of 5-6% depending on the breed, and the premium would increase as your pet ages.
Companies in India can cover up to around Rs. 10,000 (hospital costs) to Rs. 50,000 (surgeries). This would change as the pet ages, so do your research beforehand. In some cases, you can even customise your instance based on your requirements.
Are vaccinations covered?
While most do provide for annual vaccinations, it entirely depends on the company. Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions.
What are the third party damages in pet insurance?
While most pets are mild-mannered, some of us do have temperamental pets that react aggressively when poked and prodded. Biting, scratching, or any other hurt caused.
What do pet insurance policies not cover?
Most commonly, policies don’t include cosmetic treatments, grooming services, certain diseases like Leptospirosis, diagnosed pre-existing diseases, and dental treatments. Companies might not cover sterilization procedures – this needs to be checked with your insurance provider.
What are the other benefits of having pet insurance?
All such insurance is approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). So get in touch with your accountant for benefits. Pet insurance companies also cover when your pet has been stolen or gotten lost. A key point to remember for pedigreed dogs is that they would require a certificate from the Kennel Club of India on the pet’s heritage.
Certain companies also provide for funeral costs like cremation or burial when your pet passes away. They even cover situations like when the pet is put to sleep due to chronic illnesses or terminal diseases. In case of a sudden emergency, some companies even provide emergency pet minding cover for a caretaker or guardian, wherein the pet parent is provided an allowance when hospitalised.
Are there prerequisites to availing pet insurance?
Depending on the company, one usually needs to provide a health certificate from a veterinarian, vaccination records, and identification proof. Sometimes, diagnostic tests are requested to check for pre-existing diseases and conditions in older dogs.
Pet parents, or those thinking about bringing home a pet, often think of the inevitable financial strain of taking care of one. Getting a proper insurance plan for your pet's health needs will help.
Dr. Shantanu Kalambi is the chief veterinarian at Supertails, an e-commerce platform for pet care