Two vetenarians looking at a scan of a dog

Veterinary treatment costs for pets are on a sharp climb

  • R43 400 for a tibial plateau levelling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery.
  • R16 725 to treat a severe ear infection that eventually required surgery.
  • R39 200 for a shoulder surgery.
  • R37 866 for cruciate ligament surgery.
  • R40 682 for joint-related surgery.
  • R39 000 for IVDD back surgery.
  • R35 821 for surgery following a dog attack.

These are just some of the claims paid by GENRIC Pet Insurance during the period 2021–2023, which demonstrates that the claims costs for veterinary treatment are well within the realm of private healthcare costs for people, and warrants a much closer look in terms of your personal financial planning.

“If you’re a pet owner, then you need to cover them for the costs of veterinary healthcare in the same way that you approach your healthcare financial planning with a health insurance solution. With veterinary treatment costs on the rise, driven by costly technology advancements as well as an alarming shortage of veterinary doctors and nurses in South Africa, having pet medical insurance in a health crisis is an absolute must,” explains Alfred Wilsenach, divisional manager: Underwriting at GENRIC Insurance Company.

“If things do go wrong and your pet gets sick or injured, would you be able to pay out R40k of your savings or income for a lifesaving treatment? Without cover, many pet owners may be forced into serious debt, or having to make an untenable decision because they cannot afford a big upfront cost for treatment. In many instances, vets require at least a 50% upfront payment before any emergency treatment will commence.”

Pet insurance is a financial planning essential for every pet owner, not only for emergency and unexpected treatments but also managing costs of routine care such as vaccinations and so on. This is especially the case where people have multiple pets and where veterinary expenses can quickly ratchet up to very substantial amounts.

“When you consider that a claim for the R43k TPLO surgery would be equivalent to around nine years of pet insurance premium payments, the value and peace of mind provided is immeasurable in an environment where few pet owners can afford such a major financial knock,” adds Wilsenach.

What to look out for when evaluating pet insurance options

Not all pet insurance benefits are the same, and there are many important terms and conditions that you need to consider and understand before you take up the cover. GENRIC provides some important factors to consider when evaluating your pet insurance options:

  • Check for payment caps and limits – Check if the policy places a cap on what it will pay for in respect of specific treatments and what the total cap is that it’ll pay in a year, per pet.
  • Can you choose your vet? – Check if the policy allows you to choose to take your pet to any registered veterinarian; that way, you can take your pet to your usual trusted vet, or if necessary, any specialist or emergency after-hours practice if needed.
  • Check if you get discounted premium rates for multiple pets – This really helps with those many vet visits, vaccinations and any unexpected treatment costs.
  • Check for age limits on the policies – With GENRIC Pet Insurance, there’s no age limit to the cover provided as long as cover is incepted before the maximum entry pet age of 9 years. Your pet gets to enjoy the best treatment and care, even in their golden years.
  • Check if the policy contains a specific exclusion for pre-existing conditions – A pre-existing condition means it was a condition apparent in your pet before you took out the policy. In most instances, policies will exclude pre-existing conditions from cover, which is why it is so important to have cover in place while your pet is healthy.
  • Hereditary, breed, size or condition restrictions – Check if the policy excludes hereditary conditions, breed, size or condition restrictions. For example, a policy may exclude cover for a back condition typical of great Danes, which really defeats the point of having the cover. GENRIC Pet Insurance does not apply exclusions to any hereditary or breed-specific conditions, as long as these conditions do not exist at the time of the inception of the policy.
  • Understand exactly what you are covered for – For example, an accident-only plan will cover treatment of injuries after a mishap such as a car accident or poisoning, but won’t provide any cover if your pet takes ill or suffers an injury unrelated to an accident.

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