It’s a hot topic at the moment because everybody wants the best cover but the trick is finding the best plan or policy for their pets. Pet Insurance options have boomed recently and pet owners are flooded with information, what follows will hopefully help you navigate all the advertisements and offers to help you make a better choice and find a plan that adequately covers your pets and your wallet.
LIMITS: The maximum amount of money an insurance company would pay out to their client or pet owner for covered treatment. These limits can be applied per claim, or over a year period. Meaning, if you submit a claim for treatment that may involve a number of follow up visit, the insurer may only cover to a certain amount and then no more. Or, if you have previously submitted two unrelated claims early in the same year, a third claim might not be completely covered depending on your annual limit. Please make sure a policy’s limits or fund allocations for respective procedures or illnesses are realistic. Some insurers will cover procedures like a cruciate ligament surgery, which would normally cost upwards of R6500, but maximum amount allocated by some insurers is less than half that. Similarly, in the event of a motor vehicle accident, the maximum allocated amount would potentially only cover the initial assessment and x-rays.
EXCLUSIONS AND RESTRICTIONS: Exclusions would be the type of pet, breed or treatment an insurer will not cover, this will vary between insurance providers and possibly even policies. Treatments that the insurers choose not to cover could range between: procedures they might deem optional/elective, conditions that may be pre-existing and pets before or after a certain age. Breed exclusions are common as well as conditions that may be considered congenital or hereditary. Be sure to clarify whether or not chronic medication are covered.
EXCESS OR CO- PAYMENTS. Know what you pay per claim!
A claim excess or co-payment is a common feature among many insurers. This could range from a standard excess per claim to a percentage of the total account. Also, be sure to check if the number of claims in a year would drive up the premium rate. While you are on the topic, don’t be shy to ask how often you can expect a premium increase, or if there are any other factors that would affect your premium, like the afore mentioned number of claims, or even a specific diagnosis or chronic medication.
HOW ARE CLAIMS PAID?
Other than the cover you receive this may arguably be one of the most important product / policy stipulations. You as the owner are responsible for settling the account, as veterinary practices no longer allow accounts, but how long after a vet visit will you be reimbursed? Or, are you allocated a “spend amount” on a preloaded card, but if the veterinary bill is more than the preloaded amount, what then? Who is responsible for the balance?
DO A LITTLE DIGGING
Ask other pet owners what they have experienced with their respective insurers. Make sure the insurer is reputable. Does the insurer specialize in pet health; are they familiar with the medical needs of animals; or do they have a veterinarian on board? Or, quite simply, how do they set limits or access claims?
Finally, don’t be shy to ask if rates improve as your family grows, some insurers offer rate reductions per pet as more pets are included. If you have decided to invest in Pet Insurance, don’t drag your feet, register your pets early and make sure you are getting the most out of the policy.
The unique story of Jess.
Jess and Jake, two beautiful Cocker Spaniels, and their humans recently moved to George from the big city life to find a more serene lifestyle that George has to offer, unfortunately the settling in process was far from tranquil.
Jess, a 10-year-old, female, was the picture of health and happiness, never been sick a day in her life. Always bright and playful and her dad’s second shadow. Early in June Jess’s humans noticed a sudden onset of lethargy, loss of appetite and listlessness. After some investigation they found their way to VetCare and booked a consultation with Dr Ruth Truter. On presentation Jess displayed jaundice (a yellow discolouration of mucus membranes: gums, nostrils and eyes.), and pale mucus membranes.
It was decided to do a full blood panel to gather more information. Biochemistry was done to test Jess’ organ profile, to determine if they were functioning within their normal range, as well as a full blood count. This helped Dr Ruth determine the diagnosis of Primary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, meaning Jess’ own immune system was attacking her own red blood cells and destroying them.
FACT: Red blood cells transport oxygen to organs throughout the body, then transport carbon dioxide it to the lungs for you to exhale.
Consequently, Jess couldn’t go home for a few days. She had to undergo Immunosuppressive therapy as well as two blood transfusions. With blood bravely donated by Dr Elke Schwellnus’ own Border Collie, Katie who was generously compensated with treats.
Jess’s recovery progress was slow, which was expected, but to ensure there were no further underlying contributors to the condition Jess was referred to a specialist in Cape Town. Fortunately, nothing further was uncovered and Dr Ruth’s diagnosis was confirmed, allowing Jess to return home.
With lots of TLC from her humans and intermittent checkups at VetCare to ensure her blood count continues to climb, Jess is much better and continues to do well, almost back to her old self.
We at VetCare have always aimed to be a little ahead of the curve, going the extra mile for our clients and more importantly our patients, and we are hoping to spice it up even more over the next few months. Get excited, we have big plans! You can watch this space! In our new monthly newsletter, we aim to cover questions you may have about your pet’s health and wellbeing, as well as updates in the veterinary industry. Because you are part of the family, we would like you get involved, so if you have questions, big or small, special interests or even interesting stories from your pet’s life, let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include them in our editions.
You may think you know the friendly faces that run around VetCare and we hope you would consider us pleasant, useful and eager to help, but we would also like to more formally introduce ourselves over the next few editions. Find out where Dr Elke has disintegrated to and how she is sporting her new super fit body. Why Margi goes mad for a spaniel, or better yet how to actually pronounce her full name correctly. Where Juandre gets his artistic talents from? Who the new faces are at reception and in hospital? After this series of introduction, you may even be able to tell the difference between Dr Ruth and Louise at reception. We have big dreams for VetCare and look forward to growing the practice as well as what we are able to offer our clients, with regards to both treatment and service.