Health and insurance have become the new buzzwords in Covid times. And, while, so far, health insurance was limited to only us humans, an insurance company has gone a step further and taken under their insurance umbrella our furry friends as well. Yes, you read it right. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance has launched an insurance policy that covers pet dogs over their lifetime from age three months to 10 years. So far, it is India’s only retail comprehensive pet insurance offering for dogs. According to a statement by the company, this policy provides comprehensive coverage to domesticated dogs of indigenous origin, pedigree, non-pedigree, cross-bred and also exotic breeds over the lifetime of the dog.
The move has been a welcome one as pet care is a huge responsibility. Speaking about the benefits of having an insurance, Dr Dhokrikar, a Pune-based veterinarian says, “Having a pet is similar to having a child. One has to take the same amount of care irrespective of the breed of the dog. Pet care is expensive and at times there might be some last-minute complications, which most of the times are expensive. The pet parent has to shell out huge amounts of money. If there is an insurance cover for your pet, it is a win-win situation for the pet and the pet-parent. I think they should go for it!”
Statistically speaking, the population of pet dogs in India amounted for around 19.5 million in the year 2018. The population was forecast to reach over 31 million by the end of year 2023. With growing awareness about local breeds and care for dogs in general, such schemes will surely have a vast number of takers. “Health insurance schemes like these are going to be more helpful to pet parents in the interior parts of the country or in cities which do not fall into a mega city category,” points out Pranav Kulkarni. A pet parent to a nine-year-old Labrador, Kulkarni hails from Karad, Satara district. Explaining his point, Kulkarni says, “Dogs are prone to illness at some point of time or even at times they are victims of some virus or disease. Now, if that dog is in the interior parts of the country where resources are less and needs to be brought to a bigger city, such insurance can be helpful in reducing the expenses.”
Kulkarni is determined to go for the scheme even if his pet is one year from the exit age of the policy. “I have already spent a large amount on the cataract surgery of my dog. Dog is precious as a family member, so can’t risk anything here,” he adds.
Though introduction of such offers might be looked as a welcome move, there are a few points that pet parents need to carefully look into before opting for such schemes. Nagpur-based Dr Makrand Dixit has been a veterinarian for a long time and has probably seen it all. “The main thing that needs to be read in the policy are the exclusions and the terms which cannot be claimed. At times, one might just take up the insurance for the sake of it. There are also times where the scheme is claimed just for the mortality benefit. Though these numbers are less, we have to be cautious. I would request dog owners not to avail the policy just for the sake of it,” urges the senior vet.
But, not all are lucky. Amol Khare, a VP in a private company, wishes such a policy was available earlier. Dog lover Khare has been a pet parent for a lifetime now. “I lost my Husky recently and had to shell out huge funds for the treatments. Fortunately, I have my Weimaraner female who is fit and fine. However, I will go for the insurance scheme after studying it. There had been another company who had come up with a scheme a few years back. It later, unfortunately went for a toss. I won’t take any risk with my pet. The best part, however, is that this scheme is going to help the local breed’s along with the exotic ones. The only thing that worries me is the valuation of the dogs related to the mortality benefits.”
However, having said that, a scheme like this, if availed via proper consultation, will be will cover expenses related to illnesses, injuries, liability and wellness, thus easing the pockets of pet parents for sure. And, will surely prove to be a game-changer when it comes to health cover for pet dogs and hopefully will include cats as well in future.