Accident-Only Vs. Comprehensive Cover: The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Perfect Insurance Plan For You & Your Pet
What does it mean when a plan covers accidents only? Do you perhaps need comprehensive insurance instead? Get to know the ins-and-outs of each standard pet insurance plan. You’ll find out how to make the right move when it comes to choosing between accident only or comprehensive cover and discover how to pick a plan that caters to the healthcare needs of your pet.
With this simple breakdown, you’ll be an insurance guru in no time - all while still balancing your budget.
I'm sure by now you’ve heard pet insurance is a must-have, right? It can be a massive cost-saver and a little extra peace of mind is always plus. The only issue is that you, just like me when I first started looking for pet insurance, have absolutely no idea what you're looking for or where to find it. There’s an overwhelming variety of pet insurance providers to choose from and, even if you finally pick one, you're still stuck when it comes to which type of plan is right for you. Don’t worry about it. Make yourself a cup of tea, settle down and relax - I’m about to give you an all-you-need-to-know guide to finding the perfect pet cover.
Tackling the basics
Pet insurers typically offer multiple tiers of coverage. Try not to get too overwhelmed by the options. Most of the time it's actually a pretty standard tier of cover that’s been given a complicated name. Avoid the mistake of getting too tangled up in the technical stuff. You’ll catch on soon - I promise.
For now, just remember that the 2 most vital things you need to do before purchasing a pet insurance plan is to make sure you understand your pet’s healthcare needs and to ensure that you’re all clued-up when it comes to knowing exactly how your policy works. So let’s dive right in and clear the air about the different types of pet insurance plans and which specific benefits that you should be keeping an eye out for.
The major players: accident only vs comprehensive cover
It may seem like there are countless different plans and options which all seem to change names between every insurance provider. The good news is that the first plan I’m going to focus on has one name across the board - “Accident Only” pet insurance cover.
It’s easy to identify this plan at any insurer as every other type of plan usually falls into the comprehensive category. “Comprehensive cover” includes plans that fall under different names like “basic”, “silver” or “elite” plans, as well as similar variations offered by different insurers. Don’t let this confuse you. The bottom line is that these plans all tend to offer cover for large, unexpected costs due to either illness or accidents.
So what's the difference between accident only and comprehensive cover?
It’s actually just as straightforward as it sounds: accident only plans only cover unexpected costs and vet fees as a result of a sudden and unexpected injury (these plans typically do not include cover for day-to-day costs).
For example, if your dog is hit by a car and breaks their leg, an accident only plan will cover the medical costs (depending on the specified limits in your chosen plan - i.e. how much cover your plan includes for specific events).
Some people have even shared stories of paying up to R15 000 for fixing a torn ligament in the leg - so a decent accident plan to cover issues such as these can really save your wallet from a heavy blow.
However, if your dog's bones start wearing down due to a bone disorder (osteoporosis is a common issue in older dogs), unfortunately you will be left to shoulder the medical costs. Anything over and above accident cover - such as illness, routine vet visits, medication, dental care or even standard vaccinations - is only included under the comprehensive cover umbrella.
If you’re still not sure about what kind of cover you need, have a look at this 3-step guide to finding a pet insurance plan that is good enough for your pet & your budget for a little push in the right direction. It's an easy read and will give you some additional insight as to exactly what you should be looking for in order to meet the exact needs of your pet. So let's dive right in and assess all the good and the bad of each type of plan.
Digging into the details: accident-only pet insurance
What you’ll like
This is probably the most budget-friendly plan. If you're looking to save money now but still be covered for unexpected emergencies in the future, then accident only cover is for you. Because these plans only cover the basics, they tend to be much cheaper than comprehensive cover and, as long as the bill is due to an accident, it could save you thousands of Rands without the premiums breaking your budget each month.
What you won’t like
There’s always a catch to being cost-savvy. With this most basic level of cover, cheap premiums come at a price as your pet won't be covered when it comes to routine care, illnesses or other serious diseases. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the cost of dental care, vet bills and medication can stack up without any relief from insurance.
Everything you need to know about comprehensive cover
What you’ll like
Comprehensive cover will really give you your money's worth. From serious illnesses (such as kidney issues, diabetes or heart disease) to vet visits and routine care, each plan includes various benefits that will help you give your pet the optimal care.
Comprehensive pet insurance plans are perfect for a wide-range of shoppers due to the variety on offer and a never-ending list of plan-types and benefits. This means that it’s completely up to you to choose what you can afford and which services you want included in your plan.
For example, if you want your pet’s dental care covered, there's a whole range of plan types offered by different insurance providers that can accommodate your needs. If you’re looking for a plan that covers illness but not routine care, the right plan is just a click away.
What you won’t like
While figuring out the benefits of each plan is vital, it's just as essential to consider what pet insurance plans don’t cover. A lot of the time pet plans won’t automatically cover pre-existing conditions or hereditary diseases, and some won't even cover essentials like normal vet bills, annual check-ups and vaccinations.
If you want a plan that covers everything from routine checkups to expensive injuries due to accidents, then it's important to read the fine print. Believe me, there's nothing worse than being unprepared. The last thing any pet owner wants is to find themselves sitting with a sick pet at the vet and no way to pay for the treatment.
Another thing to be weary of is that comprehensive cover tends to get more expensive as more benefits are included in the plan. It’s important to do a full budget analysis and set a limit for how much you can afford to pay towards premiums each month.
A word of advice
If you’re looking to go the cheaper route, then accident only cover is the plan for you. The problem is you leave yourself really vulnerable to any unforeseen costs and your monthly budget might disappear after a single unexpected, health-related bump in the road (such as a serious illness).
My two cents on the subject is that it’s better to adjust your budget and put a little extra each month towards investing in the most affordable comprehensive plan. It’s definitely worth the additional peace of mind and you can rest easy knowing that your pet is taken care of, no matter what. Remember, whichever plan you decide on means that you’re making the smart decision and taking an active step toward better ensuring the health and wellbeing of your pet.
Who can give you the cover you need?
Now that you’ve picked a plan, you're only halfway there. There's still a huge range of pet insurers to choose from and it's hard to know where to start. Do a cost/benefit analysis to weigh up the benefits you’ll get from each insurer compared to the price they’re asking for each type of plan. I would also recommend getting a quote directly from the insurer - that way you know exactly what kind of premium you can expect each month.
My advice: consider an insurer like Oneplan who will give you a wide range of benefits at the best price. They also include cover for routine care and vet visits in most of their affordable comprehensive cover plans. I’ve had a great experience using the Oneplan app. Their claims process is a lot more streamlined and simple than trying to sort through piles of paper-documented claims. If you're looking for an easy-to-understand insurance plan that includes all the features you need, Oneplan is a great match for you. Plus, they are one of the few insurers who include cover for pre-existing conditions after a 12 month waiting period, which, in the grand scheme of things and considering the costs to treat expensive illnesses such as these, 12 months is not too long a time to wait. And what’s more, you can still claim for unrelated events during this waiting period (i.e. vaccinations, accidents etc.)
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to consider your options carefully and find the right cover that will make the most of your money and provide a service that is perfect for you and your pet.
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance Team