Let’s gear up for 2023 together: The complete set of Q & A about pet insurance
We asked you, the vets and vet nurses of South Africa, what you want to know about pet insurance, and here it is! The second part of your (many) questions answered.
If you missed the first part check it out here.
Do pet insurance companies offer lifetime policies or only monthly policies?
Pet insurance is short-term insurance and because it is based on risk, it is managed on an annual or monthly basis. There are no lifetime pet insurance policies in South Africa.
Once the pet is on pet insurance, however, they are covered for the entirety of its life, as long as the monthly or annual premium is paid. They will not be kicked off a plan once they age or have more conditions.
MediPet does not insure the value of the pet, so if an owner has spent a lot of money on their pet and wants to cover the pet in case of loss/death, we do not offer that type of cover – only pet medical insurance for dogs and cats.
What fine print should we warn our clients about?
There are lots of questions that need to be asked before your client makes a call and signs on the dotted line. Not only must they ask the right questions, but they need to understand what they are getting before they need to claim when disaster strikes. We personally call every new member and comb through their cover with them and answer any questions when they join. It’s not about sales, sales, sales with MediPet.
As a vet, you cannot be expected to understand every insurance company’s policies and be able to compare them for every unique client’s needs. Will sub-limits be charged? Are common-breed or hereditary conditions covered? What about congenital conditions? Is dental care taken from the general plan’s annual maximum or can it be claimed out of routine care?
There are many things that may affect their choice. Please review the list of questions that you can equip your clients with when they are choosing the right cover for pets.
It is most important to understand that it is insurance and not medical aid. Expectations change once someone understands that. As every pet owner is responsible for day-to-day costs, we are there for those large, unforeseen bills that you cannot self-insure against or have in your savings.
What is a sub-limit buster?
Some insurance companies have this and the owners have to take it out additionally, otherwise, they only cover a certain amount per item on the invoice. That severely restricts the amount the owner can actually claim back. It is stated on the pamphlet but a lot of owners just weren’t aware.
The question you should ask here is, what is a sub-limit? And more importantly, do you have to have them? Sub-limits are limits within a cover. There are some insurers for the purpose of limiting risk and cover for the insurer. It is a way some insurers make their products seem cheaper when in reality pet owners are getting less coverage but don’t realise until they need to claim. Then it’s too late to switch. So, how do sub-limits affect you, the vet? The insurer will separate line items on your invoice and limit how much can be claimed for each treatment. Such as the number of radiographs or the amount per year allowed to be claimed.
Are sub-limits covered by the insurance company?
The pet insurance company may only pay a set amount (sub-limit) for radiographs. Same with vet visits, medication, blood work etc. They may even have a limit on a condition. These cause huge disappointment as pet owners expect to be covered for the advertised total amount, but the sub-limits cut what they are actually paid out, drastically. Also, it limits what treatments the owner can afford (by self-funding), and therefore what the vet can perform. They are not about what the pet needs medically, but what insurers deem allowable for that cheaper premium. And remember, with all but one insurer (MediPet), this is non-vet people making these decisions!
So, if your clients are having to add a sub-limit buster to their chosen plan, the cost is actually more than what they expected to pay and it would have probably been worth their while to get more comprehensive insurance from the get-go. MediPet, again, is different as we have no sub-limits on any of our plans! This is what genuine insurance is all about.
Do we have to sign insurance claim forms for every claim?
Not with MediPet! Your clients can go online and submit their claims by themselves. You will also see our claim forms do not request a veterinarian’s signature. We have an in-house team of vets and vet nurses who assess and calculate every single claim Most of us are still practising, and we will only reach out to you if really necessary.
How detailed should quotes for pre-approvals be? How do we streamline this from our side to get them back from you straight away?
We will happily provide you with pre-approval before treatment or surgery should you request this. It is, however, not mandatory with MediPet in order to pay out a claim to your clients (or to your practice). The more detail you can give us the better, so a pro-forma invoice or quote with detailed line items will give you the best idea of what exactly will be paid out in advance. Certain items or services may be covered under different benefits like supplements or holistic treatments. These excesses may vary from the rest of the claimable items. So in short, more information from you helps us help you.
Why do you not cover other species like birds, rabbits and other exotic pets?
We are specialists in our field of dog and cat veterinary insurance. We don’t want to dilute our offer but having said that, never say never…