UAE - Demand for pet insurance is on the rise in the UAE but pet owners say premiums are high.
Pet insurance is a relatively new concept in the UAE, hence there are limited policies and options available in the market.
Pet parents and industry executives strongly advise owners to insure their pets due to high veterinary costs.
According to insurancemarket.ae, pet insurance premiums generally range between Dh1,000 and Dh5,000, depending on the breed and size of the pet. The veterinary fee is covered up to D30,000 under the existing insurance plans that are offered by the local insurers.
Currently, insurers in the UAE offer coverage for dogs and cats only and costs of treatment for the former are usually higher than for the latter, hence, the insurance cost is also higher on the side for the canines.
Dubai-resident Jeswin Monteiro, who owns a French bulldog and husky, has also not insured her pets, blaming high premiums.
“I am checking rates with multiple insurance companies. For puppies, rates are on the lower side around Dh1,000 but for [older dogs], it’s around Dh3,500 per year, which is quite a lot,” she said, adding that people don’t insure their pets because they are not sure whether such high rates are justified or not.
“With regard to dogs, people don’t take insurance when they are young because there are no major conditions, generally. Later on, when the pet ages, risk factors are more and even vet bills are quite a lot here. At that point, if we take insurance, it will be very costly,” Monteiro added.
She believes that pet insurance is necessary because veterinary bills are really high.
Dubai-based dog parent Mangal Suvarnan’s nine-year-old Labrador Retriever does not have medical insurance either.
"Ideally our family dog Whisku could do with insurance as he is older. Dogs of his age are more susceptible to illnesses. However, pet insurance is very expensive for older dogs." Whisku has already suffered from urinary issues when the family adopted him nearly five years ago.
“He's on a special diet for his condition. However, pre-existing conditions are not covered under insurance policies. If he falls ill with urinary crystals again, we would have to pay for it anyway. Our priority is to keep him healthy by providing him nutritious food and exercise,” he said.
“The bottom line is that insurance policies are very useful if a pet gets any kind of life-threatening disease,” he added.
Costs can go through roof
Hitesh Motwani, chief marketing officer at InsuranceMarket.ae, said pet insurance is a relatively newer product which was reintroduced in the UAE last year.
“The demand is rising as overall veterinary fees are on the rise too and having insurance is a no-brainer for pet owners. Being a pet owner myself, I feel it is important to have insurance to protect yourself from unforeseen expenses. It takes care of most of the veterinary fees – excluding pre-existing conditions – and also covers any accidental injuries to the pet. As we know these costs can go through the roof so it is best to have a pet cover.”
Sanjeev Anand, general manager, business development at Al Sayegh Insurance Brokers, said a recent rise of distemper cases prompted a number of individuals to think about taking pet insurance as treatments and veterinary care can be expensive. “Pet owners are slowly becoming more aware of their pets’ needs as we have observed an increase in the number of inquiries.”
He advised owners to insure their pets sooner rather than at the time of need because policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions.
Anand says veterinary care is necessary in cases of accidents and illnesses that cannot be predicted, where pets require emergency treatment.
“Number of pets are put to sleep or left on the street because their owners can't afford often very costly treatments. Pet insurance is a must, just like medical insurance, as it protects the owner against unexpected vet bills to provide treatment and care for the furry member of the family."
What’s covered and what’s not
Pet insurance policies usually cover veterinary fees, death compensation, liabilities caused by the pet and rewards to find a lost pet, said Hitesh Motwani, chief marketing officer at InsuranceMarket.ae.
However, it can vary, hence, pet owners should read the fine details when buying the policy.
Pre-existing conditions that exist prior to the purchase of policy are strictly not covered. Elective treatments like spaying/neutering aren't covered as well.
Insurance also covers pet liability which an owner may need due to any damage caused by the pet.
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