Pet Insurance Has Become A “Must-have” For All Pet Owners
Canine Zone|August - September 2019
With the high cost of good veterinary care, having a pet insurance has become vitally important. We researched the best pet medical cover options in South Africa.

Medical care for our dogs or cats can be expensive, and surgery, cancer treatment or a trauma case can set you back thousands. Having pet insurance can help mitigate these costs – and maybe even help save your pet’s life.

Veterinarian Johan van Zyl says that pet insurance makes his job much easier. “I can run all the tests that I need to give a more accurate and timely diagnosis, and I can do whatever it takes to help the pet,” he says. This means faster treatment for your pet, as well as more options for treatment. Pet medical insurance will give you total peace of mind knowing that you’ll be able to care for your four-legged family member if he or she becomes ill.

DOES HAVING PET INSURANCE REALLY MAKE FINANCIAL SENSE?

The global pet insurance market was valued at US$ 3.2 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach US$ 7.1 billion by the end of 2023, flourishing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4% during the forecast period. According to the South African Veterinary Association guideline fee schedule, which is issued annually, 2018 saw a 15% increase in these suggested veterinary fees, with a 10% increase the year before. Veterinarian Dr Ingrid de Wet says the prices charged by veterinary practices are determined by many variables. Equipment alone for an average veterinary practice costs about R1 million and is equivalent to what you’d find in many hospitals. Their medicine and consumables bills can be as high as R250,000 to R300,000 a month, and these costs are constantly increasing because most of their drugs are imported and dependent on the Rand-Dollar exchange rate.

It’s very clear that the cost of owning a pet can have a big impact on your budget. Sterilisation and deworming can cost up to R2,500. A round of vaccinations approx. R500, and a three-month course for flea and tick control approx. another R500. Fixing a broken leg can cost up to R15,000, cataract surgery about R20,000, and x-rays R6,000 per year. If your dog or cat gets out of the yard, for example, and is hit by a car, it could cost up to R40,000 in vet bills to save their life. As a result, many South Africans choose to put their ailing pets to sleep rather than pay for expensive treatments, experts say. Though “economic euthanasia” isn’t tracked in South Africa, experts say that in America, two-thirds of the pets put to sleep every week are euthanised for economic reasons.

Pet ownership is on the rise in South Africa due to the growing number of single professionals, empty-nesters, couples who delay having children and families who need additional guard dogs. In 2016, there were an estimated 9.2 million dogs living in SA households, ranking South Africa the ninth highest in the world. In a still-struggling economy with the rising cost of owning and caring for pets, pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with dog and cat owners in South Africa, as some pet policies provide up to R53,000 in cover annually.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PET INSURANCE

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