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Is it worth getting pet insurance for your dog?

Is it worth getting pet insurance for your dog?
PHOTO: Unsplash

You might or might now be a new pet owner but you're wondering if you should get pet insurance for your dog.

You have heard many things about pet insurance: the coverage is not comprehensive enough, the scope of eligibility is extremely limited, or that the price is simply not worth it.

But is that really true? Read on to find out everything you need to know about pet insurance in Singapore including the good, the bad and who should get them.

Why pet insurance for your dog is worth it

Pet insurance covers high costs of pet care

Medical costs for dogs have been soaring recently. These only increase as your fur kid grows and faces health problems associated with old age.

The table below shows some of the current costs associated with some of the most common procedures for dogs.

Medical procedure Cost
Standard consult $40-$70 depending on the day (i.e. public holiday), time (near closing hours), and duration of consult
House calls $300-$450 depending on day, time, and location
Vaccinations $40-$110 depending on vaccination
De-ticking $300-$450 depending on dog size
Ear surgery $550-$650 per ear depending on presence of tumors
Eye surgery $650-$950 depending on severity
Bone fractures $1,900-$4,000 depending on severity and location, excludes IV drip, antibiotics and painkillers
Lab tests $80-$550 depending on the type of lab test needed (i.e. urine analysis, biopsy, etc.)
Pyometra surgery and anesthesia $1,900-$4,000 depending on severity and location, excludes IV drip, antibiotics and painkillers
Teeth scaling and anesthesia $250-$300 depending on severity and location, excludes IV drip, antibiotics and painkillers. Additional S$20 for each tooth removed
Tumor removal and anesthesia $350-$600 depending on dog size and number and location of tumors, excludes IV drip, antibiotics and painkillers

The table above is based on Toa Payoh Vets 2020 to 2021 prices. The actual costs of your local clinic may differ. As mentioned before, this number is slated to increase in the future, with some pet owners citing a price hike of about 20 per cent in the last couple of years.

Pet insurance provides coverage for most of the medical treatments mentioned above. To illustrate, here are some of the benefits Liberty's standard pet insurance plan provides.

Coverage Coverage limit
Death due to accidental injury $1,000
Vet expenses due to accidental injury $500
Loss due to reported theft $300
Vet expenses for non-surgical treatment $500
Vet expenses for surgical treatment $1,500
Third party liability arising from owning insured pet $100,000
Accident to teeth and gums due to accidental injury Price currently unavailable

Do note that coverage provided may differ significantly from one provider to another. We always recommend doing your research across different providers.

Flexible and quick

Most pet insurance providers are not affiliated with clinics and provide you with sufficient coverage regardless of which clinic you seek treatment from. This way, you can entrust your beloved dog to a clinic of your choice without worrying about the costs.

Additionally, claiming pet insurance is extremely simple. You are required to pay upfront during treatment. After that, you simply need to fill out an insurance form and supply the relevant documents. These claims can be made via the internet, or even through phone apps.

If there is a pre-approved agreement between insurer and veterinarian, this already quick process will become even faster.

Factors to be prepared for

You might be determined to get pet insurance for your beloved dog after hearing all the good things. But before you take that step, you should also be prepared for some potential hurdles involved in getting pet insurance in Singapore.

High premiums and costs

Pet insurance premiums cost approximately $75 to $750 annually depending on the type of plan and provider you choose.

Furthermore, there may be additional requirements that could add on the costs. For instance, some insurers require your dog to have a microchip and you might have to foot this bill yourself.

Deductibles and co-payments also hike up the price you have to pay for pet insurance.

Deductibles are a fixed expense that need to be paid before you make any claim on a policy. These may range from $50 to $500. Typically, a plan with lower premiums is going to have a higher deductible.

Plan Annual premium Deductible
Liberty PetCare: Standard Plan $350 Up to $500
AON Happy Tails Fur $284 $250
AIA PawSafe: Basic Plan $79 Up to $1,000
CIMB My Paw Pal: Basic Plan $75 Up to $1,000,000

Co-payments or co-insurance is how much you split the cost with the insurer. These come in percentages and are usually pretty low but do increase expenses on your end.

Strict eligibility criteria

One very important thing to note is that pet insurance providers usually have extremely strict criteria. This is undoubtedly the highest barrier to obtaining insurance for your dog.

Below is a list of some of the most common restrictions placed on pet insurance.

  1. Pets typically must be older than eight weeks but younger than seven years old
  2. Pets may not be working dogs (i.e. guide dog or guard dog)
  3. Pre-existing or hereditary medical conditions will not be covered
  4. Certain dog breeds will not be covered under. Namely:
  • Mastiffs
  • Bull terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Pit Bull
  • American Pit Bull
  • Argentina Dog
  • Canary Dog
  • American Bulldog
  • Wolfdogs
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd & related breeds (e.g. Belgian Shepherd)
  • Mixed dogs of aforementioned breeds

Limited providers

As of 2022, there are few main players in the pet insurance field: AIA, Liberty, AON and CIMB. The table below compares some of their key features.

Processor Annual premium Coverage Breeds eligible Co-insurance Age requirements
Liberty PetCare: Standard Plan $350 Medical and accident coverage All breeds covered 50 per cent for non-surgical bills and 30 per cent for surgical bills eight weeks to 13 years
AON Happy Tails Fur $284 Accident coverage (Medical coverage available as an add-on) Exceptions for certain breeds 30 per cent for accidental bill 12 weeks to seven years (over seven years will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
AIA PawSafe: Basic Plan $79 Only accident coverage Exceptions for certain breeds Up to 25 per cent depending on claim Three months to seven years
CIMB My Paw Pal: Basic Plan $75 Lifetime medical and accident coverage Not currently available 20 per cent to 40 per cent depending on claim Four months to nine years

While the companies offer a range of services and products, some customers may feel like there is limited choice and that they are unable to find a plan that best suits their dog’s specific needs.

Who should get their dog insured

Factor You should get insured if
Breed Coverage Your dog breed is covered by your desired provider.
Hereditary illnesses Your dog is susceptible to illnesses and your insurance provider covers these medical costs.
Accident-prone Your dog has a hyper temperament and is prone to accidents.
Financial situation You can afford the premium of your desired provider for the long haul.
Pet age Your pet falls within the age requirements of your provider. The younger the better
Vet recommendations Your vet recommends pet insurance for your dog.

Bottom line

While it has its limitations, pet insurance also has significant benefits: providing good coverage and offsetting expensive treatments in a fast and flexible way.

We would highly recommend pet insurance to anyone who is eligible and can afford it to avoid unexpected costs that you might not be able to pay for.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.

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