Getting pet insurance for our pets should always be a priority as a pet owner. Pet insurance is our financial back up for our dogs and cats, and we are sure you have experienced many ‘surprises’ at times of claiming. Here at PetHealthCare we are passionate about animals and their health, it felt only natural to want to also become a marketer for such an important product.
The question we have been thinking about a lot lately is: “Which Pet Insurance products are available in South Africa and how do you know which one is really going to suite your needs?” Is the one that we market really the best or are there others that rival it? Having taken on this mission to find out the truth, we embarked on an anonymous quest to rate them on product vs price vs service offering.
Take a look at what the top Pet Insurance brands in South Africa had to offer when we applied as someone looking for pet insurance for our 5 year old dog and cat: (Note, all information noted was retrieved by a recorded phone call or email communication to the various organisations).
Each of these companies received an email from us requesting information. Only one of them responded to the email questions, and the rest replied with various links to follow and .pdf documents to read (information that most of us already have access to via their websites). None of them offered a phone call if I had any questions. So it was – to start with – tons of reading that we had to do before we could make an educated decision. This alone was rather frustrating. So in order to get the job done, we decided to give them all a phone call and follow our research up with reading their documents. While each and every person was professional with their conduct, it was frustrating for them to constantly be referring us to their email or website for ‘all the information’. Even for an experienced person it was extremely confusing at times to really understand all the product offerings. It will be interesting to find out exactly how it must feel for someone who is a first time enquirer.
The following Pet Insurance Products are all only cover for dogs and cats. Horses are not included in these reviews and as far as we know there is not a product in South Africa that covers other animals.
We started our research here, and since then it seems that Plan 100 and Plan 80 might have been replaced by another Hollard Product. Pet 99 is still on their marketing website.
Key to this PetSure product is that it offers affordable cover, but has a R5000 per year limit and breed related exclusions apply. Limited accidental cover is about the best benefit you will get out of this product.
Dotsure focuses on the large pay-out values regarding their 3rd party claims, and it was almost as if this is used as a selling point. What stood out for us here is limit per claim and the accident cover is limited to R10 000 for the year. Excess is low, but the premiums are not, compared to most other products. Be careful if you have a pure breed with this one as most of these conditions are excluded in the cover.
Medipet is a popular product, it has been on the market for a long time and has built up a great brand in the industry. They are underwritten by RENASA, so you can rest assured that you are in good hands. We were not too impressed with the hidden R12 extra charged on top of the quoted rates, as most underwriting companies have experts on board to help with pet related questions. Having said that, it is a great service offering. If you have a pure breed, you might have to wait 6 - 12 months for congenital related cover, but sometimes it could be excluded completely. Their annual cover limit is average and the excess is 15% per claim.
OnePlan's extensive marketing gets thumbs up, and they have a cool phone app that comes with the product. We did not download it, but it sounds cool to say the least. Here we are dealing with a very expensive product and high excess, the highest of all that we reviewed. They do however offer an excess buster product at R40 extra per policy holder. Annual limits apply and a good selling point is the OnePlan Card. The card comes with extra fees and charges that will bring down the amount that you are covered for, so keep an eye on these transaction charges. Multiple pet discounts do apply.
PawPaw has two options, full cover and hospital cover and a one page policy plan. It was very easy to read and understand this product. It clearly states that no alternative therapies are covered, but could be considered by veterinary recommendation. Routine care is excluded, which is a trade-off for the unlimited annual cover and affordable premiums. The unlimited annual cover and no breed related exclusions is a big win for this product. Sadly the Accident Only cover is only applicable to pets that are over 8 years old. If you want to have the benefits of the Full cover for life, one needs to sign up before your pet turns eight. Pet Underwriting Management Agency (P-UMA) are always professional and claims are paid out as soon as within 48 hours, depending on how comprehensive the claims are completed.
The Regal brand is a wonderful alternative health brand on the market. Regal pet health insurance is underwritten by Hollard and comes with the PetSure Tariff, which is not disclosed. The product monthly premium is based on a pets breed and age, so you once again are not sure how to compare apples to apples. They are the only product that charges a R40 script levy. The excess is good at 10%, but be careful if you have a pure breed as congenital and breed related illnesses are excluded.
Rogz is a brand most pet owners in South Africa have fallen in love with. Sadly we are not too impressed with the Rogz pet insurance cover. This product is marketed as 100% cover, but at the Petsure Tariff, which once again, since we dont know what this is, nobody knows really what they are covered for until such time that you claim. This product has annual limits and breed related exclusions, so make sure you read your policy clearly to understand the cover you are signing up for.
- The cheapest pet insurance product is generally the worst cover you can get.
- The most expensive is not necessarily the best either.
- Service levels were average to low, with only one person friendly and keen to help with completing an application form. This person knew his product well but had little knowledge of his competitors, this being said from the way he was saying things like ‘we are the only ones that…’ etc.
- Whilst we are an agent for PawPaw, we still endeavoured to get the information from a source that had no idea that we were investigating pet insurance. PawPaw was the only one that actually completed the form that we emailed to them.
- Keep in mind that Routine Care is never covered in full and if a product says it covers routine care, make sure you have read the fine print.
What did we least like about our findings?
The rather unpleasant part of our research was the fact that all of the PetSure (Hollard) products were underwritten according to the PetSure Tariff, which we quote “they cannot disclose”. Meaning that you will never ever know what you get paid out before claiming. Having Routine care is not high on our priority list, but congenital exclusions are a big one that must be taken into consideration if you own a pure breed pet.
Which pet insurance product did we like the most?
The product which is the easiest to understand, has unlimited cover, no breed related exclusions, good monthly premium and low excess is PawPaw Pet Insurance Full Cover and a close second is MediPet Accident Cover, because comparing all the benefits of all the products, here a pet can join at any age.
Why should one be careful to move to another pet insurance product?
We suggest that you never just move from one insurer to another, especially if your pet already has pre-existing conditions or is over the maximum age entry limit. You might move to a 'better' product, but the benefits might be excluded due to the age or any history your pet might have. Be rather careful should you ever wish to do so and you are welcome to contact us for advice on whether it is good to move over to another insurance product for an existing pet. New pets can be on any cover that you wish to choose.
What is the best product on the market?
Each product is unique and one or two could fit your requirements just perfectly. There is no product that can fit all. In general, there is most certainly something in each product that would be of benefit to each pet.
Keep in mind the following:
- Are congenital and hereditary conditions (like cancer, hip dysplasia, heart defects, eye cataracts or diabetes) covered?
- How does the reimbursement get calculated (based on the actual vet bill, a benefit schedule or usual and custom rates)?
- Are there any limits applied (per incident, per year, age or over the pet's lifetime); and
- Is there an annual contract that determines anything diagnosed in the previous year of coverage which could be considered pre-existing for the next year?
- Last but not least: Routine Care: This is part of owning a pet, all pets need routine care (Vacinations, Dental and spaying / neutering, etc). If a product does say it covers Routine Care, what you will get back in your pocket for this insurance cover? It's a great selling tool, but are you really enjoying the full benefit of the 'benefit'?
Make sure you understand your personal needs and those of your pet, and then move forward with your search for the perfect pet insurance for your dog or cat.