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Pet insurance and emergency care: What’s covered


Jade Poole from I write words

Pet insurance and emergency care

How does pet insurance work when my pet is facing a healthcare emergency?

Here’s the thing with our pets, they can’t communicate when something is wrong (no matter how much we wish they could). This means that it is our responsibility to know when something is wrong and they are in need of expert healthcare. Which is why it’s always a good idea to ensure your pet follows a strict routine care protocol for your vet to be able to detect and treat any health concerns before they develop into something serious and more expensive to treat. Regular vet visits and routine care help prevent conditions from progressing and increase your pet’s chances of recovering.

However, in some cases, the unexpected might strike and you have to rush your pet to the vet after business hours. Which means you are likely to turn to the help of a 24-hour animal clinic.

Emergency pet care and the case for pet insurance

In emergency situations, the consequences associated with cost of the vet bills tends to take a backseat as the health and survival of your precious pet is the main priority. However, when pet owners are faced with a vet bill of 5 figures or more, it starts to make sense as to why more and more canny pet parents are taking out insurance, and have the backing of vets across the country to support this financially-savvy decision.

Far too often vets are finding themselves euthanizing animals as their owners cannot afford to foot the bill (the reason why pet insurance was created).

Check this out: When should you take your pet to the vet? 6 basic warning signs to keep an eye out for

The reason for pet insurance

The majority of us belong to medical insurance or medical aid to ensure we are covered for the treatment of illnesses, doctor visits and hospitalisation which could cost us thousands of rands without some form of a medical scheme in place. Which prompts the legitimate question of: Should the same thinking be applied to the health of our cats and dogs? Allowing pet owners to give our pets the expert care they deserve when they need it most.

And the answer is a resounding yes!

In some cases, pet owners decide to purchase pet insurance plans that not only cover accidents and illnesses, but vet visits and routine care costs are also included as these day-to-day costs can and will quickly start to add up. Not to mention the positive benefits of having cover for routine care as this promotes responsible wellness and preventative care. But that’s a story for another day.

For the purpose of this blog, let’s dive into the facts of emergency vet care and pet insurance.

The cost of emergency vet care

It’s no secret that emergency vet care closely rivals the costs of emergency healthcare for humans. As veterinary care advances which allow our pets to lead longer and healthier lives, the costs of said care is increased as a result. Not to mention the staffing costs of after-hours pay. Whether your vet is called in for an after-hours emergency or you seek the help of a 24-hour vet, you have to remember that at the end of the day these practice’s have their own bills to pay.

What are the costs of emergency pet care?

Keep in mind that the costs of emergency pet care will vary depending on your vet’s practice and the level of care needed plus any medications, overnight stays and other facts taken into account to help your pet survive the accident or illness.

To give you an idea, let’s look at an example…

Fluffy steals a chicken kebab from your braai and swallows the whole thing, skewer and all.

You rush her to the vet for X-rays. Your vet does not find anything, so he performs a gastroscopy, followed by a CAT scan, revealing the location of the skewer. Fun fact - did you know that foreign body removal is one of the biggest pet insurance claims?

The surgery costs to remove the object amount to R12 000.

Does pet insurance cover emergency vet bills?

This will depend on your chosen pet insurer and plan.

The majority of pet insurers will help cover the costs of accidents and illnesses according to the limits outlined in your plan.

The nature of the claim will act as the determining factor as to which benefit your claim will fall under. For example, if your pet is hit by a car or swallows something he shouldn’t that needs to be removed immediately, this will be classified as an accident.

Illness refers to an unforeseen sickness such as kidney disease or a tumour.

Read this: How to prepare your pet for surgery: planning ahead makes all the difference

I chatted to the team over at Oneplan Pet Insurance who informed me that both accidents and illnesses are covered under hospital cover. All of Oneplan’s pet insurance plans include cover for accidents.

What is classified as an accident?

According to Oneplan, the following issues are typically classified as accidents:

  1. Burn or electrocution
  2. Motor vehicle accident
  3. Fall from an elevated surface/position
  4. Actions of another animal
  5. Embedded foreign object requiring surgical endoscopic removal
  6. Poisoning
  7. Near drowning

Or other incidents that result in:

  1. Traumatic ligament or tendon injury (please refer to “what you are not covered for”).
  2. Fractured bones
  3. Lacerations, abrasions, punctures or wounds
  4. The removal of gastric foreign bodies

When can I claim for pet emergencies?

There is no waiting period for accidents, meaning you can claim the moment you purchase a pet insurance plan. 

Waive in-hospital excess fees with Oneplan

All short-term insurance plans will include excess fees. This is the amount of money charged by your insurer for a claim, i.e. the amount you have to pay out of your own pocket when it comes time to claim.

With Oneplan’s Excess Buster, for an additional small monthly fee, you will not have to pay any in-hospital excess fees. Meaning you can save thousands of rands in medical bills

How to claim for pet hospital cover with Oneplan

To claim you must submit a fully completed claim form and attach a copy of the detailed account, medical evidence and/or any other information Oneplan may request.

Submit the information to for assessment and processing.

Oneplan may request a full twenty-four-month medical history for your pet to process your claim.

Check out this blog for more info on the topic.

It becomes pretty clear why having a pet insurance plan in place will give you peace of mind when it comes to the cost of emergency veterinary services, plus enable your pet to receive the care they need to save their life.

Until next time,

The Pet Insurance Team

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