Medical insurance for pets in India has been catching up. The most recent player to join the game is Bajaj Allianz General Insurance that launched a pet dog insurance policy covering pet dogs over their lifetime from age 3 months to 10 years.
Taking care of pets is a responsibility and their treatments can be expensive if health complications develop. Sometimes, pet parents are left with no choice but to lose their beloved animals on failing to cover the huge unplanned expenditure.
Even some routine healthcare expenses like vaccination, deworming, tick treatment can cost somewhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per annum.
Treatment for major illness such as cancer or heart disease can cost lakhs.
Understanding the needs of modern-day pet owners, especially those who own rare and foreign breeds, many insurance players offer pet insurance in India.
Pet insurance policies in India
Both private and public insurance policy players do offer pet insurance but they can be specific to the type of pet.
Those provided by public sector insurers like New India Assurance, National Insurance and Oriental Insurance are more like "animal/bird" policies. These cover animals like dogs, cats, horse, rabbits, horse, pigs and other livestock. However, diseases such as rabies and distemper are typically excluded.
Private insurance covers have dog insurance covering all kinds of dogs including exotic dogs, from 8-week olds to 8-year-olds. It covers death due to accident, illness, poisoning, permanent disability, liability of third-party injury or property damage. There are also insurance add-on benefits that can cover lost or stolen dogs, breeding risk, amongst others.
The risks covered under a dog insurance plan vary from insurer to insurer. For example, Bajaj Allianz's recent product is exclusively for dogs. It covers treatment of any injury/surgery or mortality resulting from any accident from the moment of policy issuance, without any waiting period. It also covers the legal liability of pet owner in case of any third-party bodily injury, death or property damage because of the pet dog including the legal costs for defending the claim.
Digit Insurance's policy also covers only dogs and gives protection against major illness, accidental injury and third party covers.
Insurance companies usually bear 80 percent of the sum insured (market value certified by a veterinary doctor) and 20 percent is borne by the pet owner. The currently available policies cover replacement costs, but not regular care related expenses, largely due to the lack of a big market, and also an organised network of healthcare providers.
It is possible that as the market for the product grows, insurance players will also cover doctor visits, surgeries, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, third party covers, discounted services to pet spas, routine expenses whether or not hospitalized.
Buying the insurance requires filling a proposal form and submitting veterinary health certificate providing unique identification of the pet.
While purchasing a pet insurance policy look into the details, know all the exclusions and the claim process.