Should you buy pet insurance?

India is likely to have 31 million pet dogs by 2023, according to Statista.

NEW DELHI: Pet insurance helps reduce the cost of a pet’s medical bills. However, these are a bit costly because they are still considered niche products.

While the pet market in India is growing, there has been a rise in diseases such as arthritis and diabetes among pets. These involve high treatment costs.

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In this piece, we take a look at whether one should buy insurance for pets.

When you buy pet insurance, the policy typically covers treatment costs related to specified diseases, surgeries, hospitalisation or death due to illnesses. Like regular health policies, these are also issued for a term of one year.

Normally domesticated dogs, which includes cross-bred, exotic breeds, pedigree and non-pedigree breeds, starting from age 3 months to 10 years, are covered.

Pet insurance policies offer lifetime cover, time-limited cover, and money-limit cover. The most common, lifetime cover protects the pet and its owners against critical or long-term illness or maybe chronic conditions. A time-limited pet policy offers financial protection for a select period after a pet has contracted an illness or suffered an injury. The money-limit cover takes care of medical expenses of pets. The policy is not time-bound, it can be used until the cash limit is reached. Add-ons that provide long-term care, mortality benefits, and protection against theft or loss, can also be availed.

The premium is normally higher than the human life morbidity rate. Besides, the quality of maintenance of pets in India is not on a par with global standards due to a lack of registration with Kennel Clubs, normal health conditions, hygiene factors, pedigree record, etc.

Kennel Clubs maintain recognised registry of pedigrees for purebreds and litters of dogs.

Pet insurance also exclude several common ailments and issues such as distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, etc., which can be covered only if the pet has been vaccinated against these by a registered veterinarian. Policy may also not cover an injury or illness arising out of neglect or unskilful handling of the pet or loss or injury due to war, foreign hostility, military upheaval, etc.

Should you buy?

Rakesh Goyal, director, Probus Insurance, said like health insurance covers medical expenses of people, pet insurance provides financial help towards unexpected treatment costs.

“Sometimes, the expenses for regular health checkups and surgery (if needed) can be huge, and this insurance ensures to offer the parent’s necessary financial support during such events. The best part about having pet insurance handy is that it does not discriminate between the pet’s age and breed and at the same time offers peace of mind,” said Goyal.

However, Prableen Bajpai, Founder, FinFix said, “Although a pet policy covers costs of a specific disease, injuries, surgery and hospitalisation, the three major recurring expenses–vaccines, medicines and veterinarian consultation–are not covered. Thus, there will always be many additional expenses even if one buys a pet insurance cover.”

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