Pet Insurance Cost: Is The Cheapest Plan The Best Option For You & Your Pet?
When it comes to insurance, it’s easy to go with the cheapest option instead of the most comprehensive. We explain the different forms of pet insurance cover and why it pays to choose quality insurance over cost.
I recently wrote an article on how to find a pet insurance plan that suits your budget and your pet’s healthcare needs. I briefly touched on why the cheapest pet insurance policy is rarely the best when it comes to quality cover, however, I wanted to dive a little deeper into this topic and explain how pet insurance pricing works, and more importantly, how the price you pay has a direct impact on the benefits included.
What is pet insurance?
The first thing we need to cover is what exactly pet insurance is. Now, without getting into too much detail, a good way to look at it is that this form of pet healthcare works in a similar way as health insurance for humans.
Responsible pet parents have pet insurance policies to help save them from both expected (check-ups and vet visits) and unexpected (accidents and illness) pet healthcare costs. In exchange for a monthly premium, your insurer will help cover the cost of vet bills.
Have a look at this blog on how much pet insurance can save you to get an idea on why pet insurance makes financial sense.
The costs of pet healthcare
It’s no secret that veterinary care is expensive. Apart from the basic costs of pet ownership (food, collars, leads, toys, bedding etc.) you also need to prepare for annual vet check-ups, which cost roughly R350 to R500 a time.
Vaccinations cost about R500 once a year and will be dependent on your pet and the specific vaccination. Then there are additional routine healthcare costs associated with tick and flea prevention, as well as deworming medication.
These costs might not seem too extravagant and you are likely to happily cover these out of your own pocket.
But then there are the costs of accidents and illness. What happens when your dog gets in a fight or falls from a height? What happens when your cat swallows something she shouldn’t have?
The average costs of common medical procedures for pets
Removing something your pet has swallowed can cost R5 000 to R11 000.
The costs of not vaccinating your pet against preventable diseases like feline enteritis or tick bite fever can quickly escalate to R20 000 or more. This will depend on the level of care required and the duration of nights spent in the hospital.
A number of large dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia (a common pet insurance claim). It can cost R7 000 for a femur head and neck extension. A complete hip replacement can cost anywhere in the region of R35 000 to R50 000.
If your pet is involved in an accident, an MRI scan costs between R9000 and R10 000. An X-ray is R3 000. This is not including treatment or surgery costs.
Choosing the right pet insurance plan
It starts to become clear as to just how expensive the costs of pet healthcare can be and how pet insurance can help protect you from these costs.
When it comes to choosing the right pet insurance plan, you need to pay attention to the terms and conditions outlined in the plan. Specifically the benefits, limits and excess. You need to know exactly what you are covered for, and more importantly, what you are not.
The list of benefits is what your insurer will cover you for. For example, vet visits and routine care are benefits on a number of pet plans. Not many insurers include these in the cost of your premium, but they will offer them as an add-on to your chosen plan.
Oneplan, however, includes these preventive care benefits in two of their pet healthcare plans.
A limit is a maximum amount your insurer will payout in the event of a claim. You will also have an annual limit which is the total rand value your insurer will payout during the course of a year. Cheaper pet insurance plans will have lower limits as a result of lower premiums.
These are events you cannot claim for. You need to pay special attention to what you are not covered for you in your policy wording document. Cheaper pet insurance plans often have more exclusions.
An excess is an amount you have to pay in for a claim. An insurer that caught my eye when researching excess amounts for pet insurers in South Africa was Oneplan. For as little as R40 a month, you can purchase the Oneplan Excess Buster. With this, all hospital excess fees are waived.
The final word
Choosing the right pet insurance plan is something that takes time and effort on your part. It’s advised that you never choose one based purely on price as this will result in disappointment when it comes time to claim.
Have a look at this article on finding the right plan for your budget and your pet.
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance Team