Pet paw-tection

New Delhi Jan 14 For every parent, their children’s health and well-being is one of the foremost priorities. While we are witnessing a rapid growth in the number of people insuring themselves and their loved ones in India, there is another interesting trend that’s emerging. It’s about pet parents insuring their pets. The movement is fuelled by the behaviour shift from being a “pet owner” to being a “pet parent” and considering how pets bring happiness to a home with their unconditional affection and companionship, it’s undoubtedly an appreciable shift. Pet parents today want to make sure that if anything goes wrong with their pets health, they should be in a situation to manage finances so that their pets can avail the best possible treatment and live a healthier life.

Although in its nascent stages, growth opportunities for the pet insurance segment are endless. One of the major reasons is the exponential increase in the number of pets across the country. This is evident in the report titled ‘India Pet Food Market Forecast and Opportunities 2019,’ which has estimated the worth of Indian pet care market at USD 1.22 billion. With an annual CAGR of 35 per cent, Indian pet care market is the fastest growing industry globally.

Soaring medical costs are also among the major reasons behind a rise in the demand for pet insurance policies. Since around 85 per cent of the pets in India are dogs, most of the insurance policies cater to them. Other pets that can be insured includes sheep, fish, elephants, horses, and siamese cats.

As per the current regulations by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) that approves these plans, there are three major types of pet insurance covers that can be availed — lifetime cover, time-limited cover, and money-limited cover. While lifetime cover caters to all the expenses related to long-term or chronic illnesses like arthritis and eczema along with entitling pet parents to a specific sum of money every year, time-limited covers are usually cheaper and provide financial protection for a specific period, thereby coming in handy during an injury or a sudden disease. Money-limited covers, on the other hand, have no specific time limit and provide monetary benefit for every condition that falls under the purview of pet insurance coverage.

There are several benefits associated with pet insurance, which has made availing it a necessity among pet parents in recent times. Firstly, the premium to be paid is very low, varying between 3-5 per cent of the amount insured, depending upon factors such as health condition and market value. Additionally, depending upon the nature of the policy scheme, these cover issues including treatment expenses, illnesses contracted while the policy is in effect, accident while travelling, loss or theft, accidental poisoning, and incapacitation. Furthermore, certain schemes also cover accidental death and any liabilities such as when a pet attacks or damages a third party or property. Permanent total disablement also gets covered in certain cases, although one may not get a 100 per cent claim for the same.

Since every coin has a flipside, there are some cons that lead to a hesitation among pet parents. First — while pet insurance policies can be bought online, the formalities require physical presence of pets and their parents, followed by an extensive process. It begins with a health certification from a qualified veterinarian so as to ascertain whether the pet is suffering from any ailment before issuing of the insurance policy. Further, a detailed pedigree record and a kennel club record need to be submitted along with the health certificate. Dogs are also required to be suitably identified by breed, age, nose print, and tattooing, in order to have a certificate issued.

Moreover, these policies do not cover death due to rabies, viral hepatitis, distemper, leptospirosis, viral enteritis. The exclusions also include injuries or illnesses arising out of unskillful handling or those that were contracted prior to taking the policy.

While there are both pros and cons to it, pet insurance acts as a safety net for the pet and helps in getting them immediate medical attention and protection without having to shell out a huge amount of money unexpectedly. Moreover, availing pet insurance is the least that can be done in return of the unconditional love that they give us. Therefore, with an increasing awareness and consideration among the pet parent community, pet insurance has become a steadily flourishing segment in the Indian pet care industry.