Your expert guide to cat health insurance: Why it matters, when to get it and what to look for
The lowdown on health insurance for your cat plus some expert tips you never knew you needed.
Pet insurance policies typically provide cover for vet fees when something goes wrong with Whiskers. In some cases, depending on your level of cover and chosen insurer, you might also have cover for day-to-day costs such as vet visits and routine care.
The aim of an affordable and reliable pet insurance provider is to provide you with peace of mind should something happen to your cat. Any pet parent who has witnessed the vet bills of pet emergencies first hand will know how helpful pet insurance can be, and better yet, a comprehensive pet insurance plan that covers vet visits and wellness care.
These days, there seem to be more pet insurance providers out there then we can count! Finding an insurer and a plan can be incredibly overwhelming and downright confusing. And who can blame you for feeling that way? From the fine print, legal lingo, and all the other things to take into consideration, finding the right provider and plan is no easy feat.
That’s why I have put together this simple yet effective guide to finding cat health insurance that meets your needs.
Why cat health insurance matters
Before we dive into the factors to consider before purchasing a pet insurance policy, let’s first cover why pet insurance for your cat is so important.
As much as cats are typically less of an insurance risk compared to their canine counterpart, they can still fall ill or land themselves in a bit of trouble when you (and your wallet) least expect it.
Unexpected AND expected vet fees are covered
Pet insurance helps pet parents to plan for the unexpected vet fees. Cat insurance plans can also help cover a range of other benefits such as wellness care (this typically includes vaccinations, sterilisation, dental care, tick and flea prevention and more), as well as vet visits and even scripted medication. In some cases, your insurer (Oneplan Pet Insurance covers costs such as these), may even go above and beyond and help cover emergency kennel costs and even euthanasia. All of which can be incredibly beneficial.
Although the cost of cat ownership may not seem like much, the moment something goes wrong and you are faced with a bill amounting to tens of thousands of rands, pet insurance can quite literally help save the day and eliminate any unnecessary financial stress. Allowing you to give your cat the quality care they deserve.
As well as this, the benefits of wellness care coverage are tenfold. Routine care helps prevent your cat from contracting any serious illnesses thanks to vaccinations. Regular check-ups also allow your vet to check and screen for any underlying health concerns before they develop into more serious (and more expensive) issues.
What to take into account before signing on the dotted line of a new policy
1. Insure the health of your cat as soon as you can
The sooner you purchase cat health insurance, the better. Your cat might be at peak health right now, but you never know when something might go wrong.
Older cats are prone to health risks and typically require more regular vet visits. By insuring the health of your cat now, you prevent any coverage exclusions being an issue later on down the line. Pre-existing conditions are typically excluded from cover when pet insurance is concerned, meaning any illnesses your cat shows symptoms of or is diagnosed with, will not be covered for your new insurer. However, there are some insurers, such as Oneplan, who do cover pre-existing conditions after a 12 month waiting period.
2. Make sure you read the fine print
Before you make the final decision, make sure you read all the terms and conditions to know EXACTLY what your cat is covered for and what is excluded from cover.
This will also depend on how comprehensive you want your plan to be. I often suggest that pet parents chat with their vet to get an idea of the level of cover their pet might need which will be dictated by their current state of health.
Having a more comprehensive plan is often the preferred route of pet insurance as this not only includes cover for accidents and illnesses but for vet visits and routine care too. The costs of these day-to-day vet consults can and will quickly start to add up. Which is why pet insurance can help shoulder these fees and even encourage you to more regularly visit your vet, thus, improving the health and wellbeing of your pet.
3. Get to know the details of your potential policy
Find out what age limits apply. Most pet insurance policies have a maximum age limit which is typically nine years. If your cat is older than this (or younger than 8 weeks) you cannot insure their health. Oneplan, however, recently updated their Accident Plan to not have any age limits that apply.
This is the number of days you have to wait before you can claim for certain events. Different benefits will have different waiting periods. For example, vet visits might have a waiting period of 30 days from the time you take out your policy. Whereas accidents do not usually have any waiting periods.
As previously mentioned, these are health issues that existed before you purchase your pet insurance policy. Most per insurers will not cover any costs associated with pre-existing conditions, with the exception of Oneplan Pet Insurance. Although this insurer has a waiting period of 12 months in place for pre-existing conditions, you can still claim for other events that are unrelated to these conditions during this period of time.
This is the amount of money you have to pay for a claim. This is typically a fixed percentage. Oneplan has a unique product known as an Excess Buster. For a small additional monthly fee, with this product, you can waive all hospital excess fees charged by them - potentially saving you thousands of rands in hospital bills.
Find out how easy it is to process a claim with your potential insurer and how long the reimbursement process will typically take. Oneplan Pet actually fronts you with cash before you see the vet using their Onecard. This transactional debit card is issued to each client when they become a part of the Oneplan family and is used to preload funds onto through the Oneplan App. Once the funds are loaded, you can simply swipe and pay for your vet visit using this card.
I hope this information has been helpful in guiding you to make an informed decision when choosing an insurer for your cat’s health.
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance Team