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Pet insurance is (almost) essential

New research shows the global pet insurance market is projected to reach $11,25 billion (R189,03bn) by 2026. With the market size standing at $6,05 billion (R101,66bn) in 2018, that’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8%. One of the most significant drivers in this exponential growth is a global uptake in pet adoptions.

According to David Roache, Managing Director of dotsure.co.za, this growing market trend is reflected in South Africa, 64% of households with dogs and more than 100 000 pets currently insured with dotsure.co.za, the first and only pet insurer in the country.

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and pet adoptions are once again open, animal shelters are reporting an increase in enquiries and adoptions. This is likely because many people are still working from home and socialising less on the weekends, experts say. In times of stress and uncertainty pets are a calming constant.

But brining a new pet into one’s home comes with the costs, and this is partly why September is dedicated to raising awareness about pet insurance and the value and peace of mind it brings. Pet parents pay a monthly premium factoring in the age and health of their pet. Following a vet visit pet parents will then submit an insurance claim and are reimbursed for a portion, or the full amount, of the visit (depending on their policy).

While a standard check-up generally costs around R400, these costs can skyrocket into the thousands for injured pets or those who develop conditions such as feline leukaemia, parvo, uterine infection or tick-bite fever.

Carren Nickloes of the Animal Anti-Cruelty League says not being able to afford vet care can have devastating results, particularly during the pandemic, as many pets are surrendered to animal shelters. So knowing a proper fit of products and services requires education on pet insurance.

“You wouldn’t think twice about paying for a comprehensive medical aid plan for you and your family, so why should providing for our furry family members be any different?” asks Roache.

“We know we’re just starting to see the local market begin to trust and understand this type of cover . . . Remember, until recently this was a relatively unknown offering with very few affordable options available.”

Most pet insurance plans cover accidents, illnesses and wellness checks, and in dotsure.co.za’s case third-party liability and hereditary treatment too. Over the past three years dotsure.co.za has paid out more than 45 000 claims – equalling millions of rands worth of vet bills.

When considering an insurance plan for your pet, Roache provides the following tips on what to consider:

Pet types that can be insured. Dogs and cats are the most commonly covered pets, and dotsure.co.za is the first and only insurance provider in South Africa to insure exotic pets.

Breeds with genetic markers for serious conditions may be charged a premium.

Cost of treatment for common ailments or conditions.

Excluded items such as pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, and so on.

Waiting period before your pet is covered.

Premiums, co-payments and ageing cost increases.

Pets getting sick or injured is a reality, and the future is impossible to predict. Ongoing advances in veterinary care mean there are more options than ever for a sick or injured pet, which come at a cost.

“We know pet parents have higher expectations for their pet’s health care and standard of living,” says Roache, “and the key is to receive treatment early and quickly, and have financial means to cover the cost.”

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