If you own a pet, a visit to the vet is inevitable because pets, just like children, get sick and get into incidents which result in them injuring themselves.
Research by a pet insurance company in the UK shows that each year, one out of every two pets requires veterinary treatment following an injury, illness or accident. The study also found that 12% of cats and dogs under the age of three suffer from medical conditions which can recur or cause illness later in life.
Pets, like their owners, are also living longer these days due to improved healthcare and treatments. While it’s reassuring to know that your pet might live to a ripe old age if you look after it well, an aging pet is often hit with health complications such as arthritis, kidney and heart problems, and cancer.
“Until you’ve been faced with a veterinary bill following unexpected treatment for your sick or injured pet, you may dismiss the idea of pet insurance. But pet insurance, which is becoming more popular in South Africa as veterinary costs continue to climb, is one way of managing your risk and ensuring that you can pay for the care your pet needs,” says hippo.co.za’s general manager, Amanda Thomas.
An average visit to the vet can cost anywhere between R180 and R250. If your pet requires hospitalisation, you will incur additional accommodation and medicine costs, which can vary according to the species and size of your pet, and the type of treatment or therapy administered. Just three days in doggie hospital can cost in the region of R1 100 for a small breed – and that’s at a regular facility. Specialist facilities with 24-hour monitoring will cost much more than that. Just as with humans, the cost of surgery and other medical procedures varies and can run into thousands of rands, depending on what’s required. Then there’s routine care and sterilisation, which also costs money. For instance, neutering a dog can cost around R500 while spaying costs around R700.
“Yes, you can try and save for the unexpected. However, if your dog or cat gets sick or injured next week, you might not have enough money saved and you’ll face the fear of not being able to afford the necessary medical care for your beloved pet,” says Thomas.
Pet insurance works in a similar way to medical aid for humans as it covers accidents and illnesses. Depending on the type of plan you choose, pet insurance covers unforeseen illness, accidental injury, emergency kenneling, routine care and sterilisation. The more comprehensive the level of cover, the more it will cost.
hippo.co.za can help you find the best pet insurance for your needs.