Everything you need to know about pet insurance
Updated: Jul 19
Roshan’s beloved Great Dane, Bailey, turned seven last year. Bailey has hip dysplasia, which is increasingly getting worse, requiring frequent visits to the vet. Roshan ends up spending a fortune on Bailey’s tests, treatments, and consultations. Of course, he doesn’t scrimp on any of Bailey’s needs.
Empathize with Roshan? Then pet insurance may be for you.
With an annual growth of 14%, India is the fastest-growing market for pet care in the world, says Petex India research
Indian banks have always offered cattle and livestock insurance to protect against loss of livelihood for villagers and rural farmers. However, in India, pet health insurance is now increasingly finding a footing with more people making the transition from being mere pet owners to pet parents.
A pet brings much joy, but the cost of looking after one can be expensive. Data from Statista estimates that dog food alone cost approximately Rs 8,000 per month in 2018. Even necessary routine annual checkups include obtaining vaccinations, rabies shots, tick prevention medicines, etc. which really rack up the bills.
Having life insurance helps you brace for the unpleasant and unexpected. Pet insurance does the same. And like insurance for humans, pet insurance, too, is approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) with different options for pet parents to choose from.
Currently, pet health insurance is offered by well-established firms like Bajaj Allianz, New India Insurance, United India Insurance, and Oriental Insurance and smaller private companies like Digit Insurance and Vetina Healthcare.
Let’s take a closer look at what pet insurance entails.
What type of pets are included in pet insurance?
Pet insurers lean heavily towards dogs and cats, who are the most popular pet choices. However, some do offer coverage for other friends from the animal kingdom, like birds and horses.
What’s the eligibility criteria?
Insurance plans depend on various factors like your pet’s age, breed, and potential health issues, among others. The biggest players in the pet insurance space cover a wide range of conditions.
The specifications for eligibility like age, breed, conditions, identification markers, and risk factors included vary from company to company. For instance, Oriental Insurance covers mostly dogs, including indigenous, crossbreeds, and other uncommon breeds like sheepdogs, hunting dogs etc. They cover dogs between 8 weeks to 8 years and require three specific identification marks – tattoos, nose print, and colour photos.
How does a pet insurance claim work?
The claim process is fairly similar to a regular healthcare policy. You’ll need to complete a claim form and submit documents like your pet’s vet bills, vaccination certificates, and hospital bills.
What are the important factors to know when choosing an insurance policy?
Pet insurance for older pets is not easy to get. All insurers have an age range within which your pet could be eligible for a policy, depending on other factors. If you have a young pet it’s advisable to buy a lifetime policy and be prepared for increased expenses as they grow older. Pets with pre-existing conditions will most likely be excluded.
Watch out for the fine print once you decide to go for a policy. Compare policies, comb the inclusions, confirm the coverage, and ask a million questions! You should get what you pay for.
Is pet insurance for you?
The honest answer is, it depends. The best way to find out is to have a chat with your vet. Gauge your pet’s health and fitness, know the limitations. Find out how much premium you will need to pay currently and how much it would increase as your pet grows older. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a balance between affordability and the need to know that your pet’s covered for all eventualities. The bottom line – choose what lets you sleep well at night.