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Is your pet insured?

Last updated on: July 30, 2009 09:06 IST
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Pets. For a lot of us pets are more than just domesticated animals. Pets are a part of our families, sharing the same love that is shared by the other members of the household.

Therefore, if the members of the family get insurance shouldn't the pets get insurance too? Most animal lovers would agree. But what is pet insurance?

Pet insurance takes care of the veterinary costs if the pet becomes ill or is injured in an accident. However, the insurance policy does not pay for routine or preventative treatment. Some policies also cover death, theft or if the pet is lost. A dog insurance policy can help you cover losses to a third party in case your pet accidentally bites them or destroys their property. 

How does it help?

The purpose of pet insurance is to mitigate the risk of incurring significant expense to treat ill or injured pets. As veterinary medicine is increasingly employing expensive medical techniques and drugs, and owners have higher expectations for their pets' health care and standard of living than previously, the market for pet insurance has increased.

Which animals can be covered?

In India, pet insurance largely means insurance for dogs and cats, and that too for pedigree dogs and cats. There is some special insurance available for horses. However, other countries have insurance covers available for exotic pets like chameleons and turtles.

What are the types of coverage available?

One can select different types of pet insurance policies, based on individual needs, pets and budgets. The following are the various types of pet insurance policies:

  • Lifetime cover: This policy covers expenses related to a pet contracting any long-term or chronic illness. The illnesses covered in this policy include arthritis, eczema or any other sickness that requires your pet to be treated by a vet for a long period of time. Under this type of policy, a policyholder is entitled to a specific sum of money every year. This maximum limit can be reset when the policy is renewed. This cover is especially available for pet insurance bought for dogs and cats.
  • Time-limited cover: Through this cover, pet owners receive financial protection for a specific period after a pet suffers an injury or contracts any disease that requires him/her to be treated by a vet. This cover is usually cheaper than the lifetime cover and is extremely popular among people who own crossbreed cats and are worried about incurring high treatment costs.
  • Money-limit cover: Through this cover, pet owners can receive monetary benefit for every condition that falls under the purview of pet insurance coverage. There is no time limit and a policyholder can claim for as long the money limit is not reached. This cover is generally costlier than the lifetime cover, but cheaper than the time-limited cover.

In India, pet insurance is not yet popular. One of the reasons is that insurance companies actively do not advertise such covers. Insurance companies do not promote pet insurance because identification of the pet/ pedigree has always been a problem.

However, if a pet owner seeks a cover and produces the necessary documents/certificate, insurance companies admit the proposal. Also, another reason for the unpopularity of such insurance is that a pet cover provides protection against death due to accident or disease, but does not cover the vet's bills.

In India, you can get your pet insured for any amount ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 50,000 depending on the breed and the insurance company. Also, most pet insurance policies in the country are dog oriented. This is also because many species of birds and animals are not allowed as pets in India. Insurance is mainly done for pedigreed dogs which are rare or valuable or both. 

Therefore, even though pet insurance is yet to catch up in India, it will surely pick up its pace in the coming years.

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