Vets with pets: Our unique insurance needs

Published by LocumBaseVETS on

We have seen a lot of things go wrong with pets…it’s the nature of our job. So when we are at home at the end of a rather long day, and one of our own suddenly has a non-weightbearing lameness, the wheels can start spinning, as our minds go into overdrive. I don’t know about you but the first thing I think of when one of my goldies starts limping is “OH NO! CRUCIATE!” Followed by, “Where am I going to get R35 000 to pay for a specialist to do it?” I can’t do that op myself, and even with a friends and family discount, I am still in major trouble.

Most of the time, I give a once-off dose of Meloxicam, and the next morning they are fine, but the dread still sits there. Seriously though, what would I do if it was a cruciate? Or if that mild bloat turned into a GDV? Or that little dark lump was actually a Melanoma? As our access to better treatment improves, the costs of these increase too.

“But you are a vet,” they say. “You can just treat your own animals. It must be so nice to be able to afford veterinary care, food, tick and flea treatment, and all those things normal pet-owners have to pay out of their own pockets” they say. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our pets often end up getting the short-dated dewormers, or slightly expired food. But even so,
veterinary medical treatment is very expensive, even if you just end up charging for materials. And in all honesty, 24 hour care and specialist treatment is not accessible to all of us, so we would end up referring. Plus, many vets are not so keen on working on their own pets – we have all felt that heartache.

So, here is what my thought process was when I was looking for insurance cover for my own pets:
We are mainly wanting to cover the big, life-threatening conditions. The ones where if we don’t
have access to that huge amount of cash in our savings for big surgeries and expensive treatments,  even ongoing, we would either have to leave the animal in pain (which is not an option), or PTS…which is a heart-breaking alternative!

When choosing between the various providers, I asked myself some key questions:

  • We know that getting a pet comes with responsibilities like sterilisation, routine tick and flea treatment, vaccinations, deworming and more, so routine care savings are a nice-to-have but not part of normal insurance cover.
  • Also, cover for those small day-to-day costs, like a bee sting here and there, meds for a mild otitis or a small wound are also usually an added extra, but not the primary reason for getting short-term insurance.
  • What really matters is looking at the genuine cover for when those big things happen and your pet needs cataract surgery, for example, you will look back and say “Woah, I really couldn’t have saved for this, even if I had put my premiums into a savings account for 10 years…”

To be honest, it shouldn’t only be us vets who get insurance, or even approach pet insurance this way. Our clients should shift their mind-set from a “pet medical aid” to an “insurance” one, too. When anyone acquires a pet, they should understand that with this pet, comes responsibilities. Small issues here and there should be expected. It’s the big, unforeseen expenses that we absolutely couldn’t plan or prepare for…that is the reason pet insurance exists. Small, repeated claims could end up raising our monthly premiums, while using the insurance the way it is meant to be used, will keep everyone’s monthly premiums low, and will allow more to be covered when it needs to be. Remember, there is no medical aid for pets.

Last thing to think about is making sure that you are with an insurer who doesn’t decide how you should treat your own pet. I chose MediPet, as they’re the ones with an internal vet team,
calculating every single claim. They put the pets’ interest first. Cover without sub-limits means YOU, the vet, decide on what treatments that pet needs to ensure recovery from a substantial incident or illness.
So, if you’re not covered, do it already. It only takes 2 minutes here.

Categories: Pet Insurance