Home >Money >Personal Finance >Should you buy your furry friend a health insurance cover?
So far, insurers offered coverage for pets under lifestyle plans and would mostly pay only for death or disability of the pet. Photo: Hindustan Times
So far, insurers offered coverage for pets under lifestyle plans and would mostly pay only for death or disability of the pet. Photo: Hindustan Times

Should you buy your furry friend a health insurance cover?

  • Bajaj Allianz General Insurance recently launched a pet dog insurance policy, the first such cover in India

To cater to the healthcare expenses of pet dogs, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd recently launched a pet dog insurance policy, the first such cover in India. So far, insurers offered coverage for pets under lifestyle plans and would mostly pay only for death or disability of the pet.

“A pet policy has been a long time coming. In India, pets have become popular in the last few years, but even more so after covid-19 set in. Pet parents must definitely insure their pets because regular health checkups and surgery expenses could be huge," said Shweta Jain, CEO and founder, Investography, a financial planning firm.

We tell you what the policy covers and whether it’s worth buying.

Features

The policy covers pets of indigenous origin, cross-bred and exotic breeds. The minimum entry age is three months but the maximum entry age is capped depending on the breed.

Your pet dog should be vaccinated at the time of policy purchase. Also, all necessary vaccinations will have to be administered during the policy period to ensure settlement of claims.

The policy comes with a 30-day waiting period, which means no illnesses will be covered till 30 days of buying the policy. “If the dog is over the age of four years and the insured opts to not get a medical test of the dog done before policy issuance, the waiting period is up to 90 days," said T.A. Ramalingam, chief technical officer, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

Apart from the two mandatory covers of surgery expenses and hospitalization, there are seven optional covers—mortality benefit, terminal diseases, long-term care, OPD, third-party liability and theft or straying covers.

In case of surgeries, the policy comes with mandatory 10% co-pay, the percentage of the claim amount that has to be borne by the insured, in this case the pet owner. “Co-pay is usually used to avoid customers opting for surgeries or treatments they would have avoided if they did not have the cover. By including the customer in the overall share of loss incurred, such moral hazards are avoided," said Mahavir Chopra, founder, Beshak.org, an independent research platform for retail customers.

The surgery expenses cover shall pay up to 50,000 in a year and will also cover expenses incurred due to fractures. Under the hospitalization cover, the maximum liability is capped at 10,000 in a year. Further, 2,500 will be admissible per hospitalization day and 24 hours hospitalization is mandatory.

In case of the optional OPD cover, there is a deductible of 10%. The policy will bear the expenses after you’ve paid 10% of the expenses.

Third-party liability cover shall indemnify you only if you are legally liable to pay for bodily injury, property damage or death of a third party. In case of permanent theft or straying of the pet, the insurer will pay the sum insured if no recovery is made after 45 days despite appropriate attempts to trace the dog.

Unless it can be categorized as an injury, dental treatment will not be covered. Claims arising from skin-related treatments will not be admissible, neither will expenses incurred due to spaying covered.

Premiums

The product has two plans. Plan A does not cover kidney failure, cataract surgeries and terminal diseases under certain conditions. Plan B offers all these covers and, therefore, comes at a higher cost.

For a medium-sized breed such as Pitbull or Bulldog which is 7-10 years of age, the surgery expenses and hospitalization cover costs 1,264 under Plan A and 1,455 to 1,582 under Plan B.

“Pet dogs that are micro-chip-tagged will be eligible for a 5% discount on premiums. However, micro-chipping is not mandatory," said Ramalingam.

Mint take

While the product is affordable and offers various optional covers, there are a few drawbacks in terms of coverage.

A human OPD cover pays for medicines and vaccines, but this pet dog insurance policy doesn’t. “The majority of the expenses usually are on vaccines which are quite expensive. My dog has an autoimmune disorder and also gets warts on the skin which requires regular medication and vaccines, but such costs are not covered. The vet’s consultation charges also aren’t covered. Other than that, the product is quite affordable," said Priya Sunder, director and co-founder, PeakAlpha Investments.

Not all the optional covers may be of use, especially because making a claim may not be easy given the number of exclusions. “Avoid paying for certain risks that are unnecessary because it could mean wastage of money," said Jain. Chopra said it is a reasonably priced product.

Owners who have pets and are concerned about large healthcare expenses may find this product useful.

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