Pets and Insurance

As Farmers we tend to be surrounded by animals

. For some of us these are the commodities we go to a lot of trouble to improve, increase, raise and finally trade. They are our source of income and pride and joy and we insure them in terms of our normal asset insurance programme.

The problem arises when these animals are, proverbially, given names and become pets!

Pets in any household are endearing and become such an integral part of the family that any thought of them being lost, dying or having a life-threatening illness can be quite traumatic. Yet we often forget about them when we start looking at risk management and our insurance portfolio.

Whilst it may seem a bit preposterous to insure your cat, dog or pony, the reality is that the costs they can incur at your local vet can be prohibitive and downright scary. The obvious solution is to look at possible insurance products that are available in the market and shop around much as you would do with a medical aid, life insurance and short-term insurance products and product providers.

There are several products available in the insurance market to insure pets. Typically, these are aimed at dogs and cats and tailored to make provision for various levels of cover allowing you to choose how comprehensively you want to do it.

For obvious reasons insurers will seldom insure animals younger than 8 weeks or older than 8 years. There are products that will allow you to have no upper or lower age limit, but these are underwritten specifically and may have terms and conditions and limitations around cover for things such as dental care.

Much like a medical aid policy these policies are based on varying levels of cover. The cover could be for basic accidental injury, expand to include illness and even routine and dental care. Depending on the level of cover you opt for the price will obviously increase or decrease. The cover, like a medical aid, will have a monetary value linked to the treatment required and you will be reimbursed accordingly or the service provider paid.

Along the same lines, and especially in the agricultural sector, horses are often pets but can also be quite substantial investments. A horse is an interesting investment to insure as it is both
a living animal and possession.

For many people their horse is much more than an investment. The extra-ordinary upside of investing in a horse is that the asset is a living, breathing thing of beauty. The reality is that these living, breathing assets can get sick, or hurt, or need surgery and, in the worst-case scenario, they can die. The costs of owning and taking care of a horse can be onerous and it makes financial sense to ensure the unforeseen and unplanned expenses are covered. Horses are used for different applications and these can vary from stud to pleasure and competitive riding. At the upper end of the scale horses are often imported by serious owners and these animals must be kept in quarantine overseas awaiting being imported into South Africa.

It is common to start with a basic mortality policy (cover in the event of death), and then customize your insurance package to suit you and your horse’s particular needs.

Options will vary from insurer to insurer but you would typically be able to extend your policy to cover financial loss due to death as a result of an accident, illness, disease or theft – including death while in transit or eventualities where a registered vet may have to euthanase for humane reasons.

There are other options available such as:
Loss of use cover – when the horse becomes totally and permanently incapable of being ridden,
Cover for foals even when the mare is still pregnant,
Critical care covering veterinary costs associated with in-hospital procedures,
Liability cover,
Personal accident cover for the rider/handler/groom
Vet expenses for illness or injury
Cover for the tack
Cover for the horsebox

The value of the animal and level of cover you choose will be the determining factor when it comes to price and this could vary from insurer to insurer.

As always the right thing to do would be to speak to your financial advisor and let him or her get comparative quotes from the various insurers based on your specific requirements as no two clients or circumstances are the same and, if nothing else, your dog deserves his own bespoke policy.

Andries Wiese- 

Head of Agriculture  Hollard South Africa

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