Whatsapp, especially the groups in it, gives you a never-before insight into people’s lives and pastimes. Amid isolating COVID restrictions, these groups have been the congregating points where movie recommendations abound and cooking and yoga conversations roll by regularly.
A conversation some time ago made me pause. A friend had an ailing pet dog and he suffered with it through its final losing fight with cancer. He found ample support among the group members as he cremated it in tears.
As pet parents will tell you, pets are family. Pet ownership in India has increased during the past two years of unbelievable isolation, confinement and distress. And pets have been attributed with shoring up the sanity and safety of their human parents. Pet-upkeep facilities such as food, grooming and medical care are quite widely prevalent and even pet spas and hotels are coming up in cities.
With the costs associated with maintaining a pet and, of course, the contingencies, pet insurance can’t be far behind and correctly so. Several general insurance companies offer comprehensive insurance coverage for your household pet, typically for pet dogs and cats while pet-bird insurance is also available. Ranging from protection from theft and medical-care costs, pet insurance policies offer intuitive covers including third-party liability.
Different companies offer covers to pets in varying age bands from a few weeks to a few years. The breed, size and age of the pet dictates the premium rate as does its health history, vaccinations and the like. You can choose the sum insured (SI) for the policy and if you want to cover a pedigree dog for its purchase or market value, you need a certificate from the Kennel Club of India.
The main cover is for the costs of hospitalization and surgery with typical exclusions. Terminal illness cover is a benefit cover that pays a lump sum if your pet contracts one of the listed terminal illnesses such as cancer or kidney failure. A mortality-benefit cover pays you the sum insured if your pet passes away due to illness, accident or other specified causes. A benefit payment for cremation / burial expenses can also be part of this cover.
Out-patient treatment and long-term care covers are also available, covers that are actually not available or very difficult to get for humans.
Some companies offer add-on covers like forfeiture of entry fee for dog shows when the pet is unable to participate due to injury or illness. A valuable cover, certain to become a requisite in the future, is the third-party liability cover. Accidents involving your pet resulting in damage to third-party property, injury or death is covered under this for SIs ranging from ₹5 to ₹10 lakh and above.
The policy kicks in only when the compensation is awarded through the court, but we have been reading about victims filing cases against pet owners and some of you may have experienced risky and hair-raising situations in your own gated communities and apartment complexes.
And, while we are talking about building societies and third-party liability, remember that your residents’ association has to cover itself against third-party liability for its lifts and this is a legal requirement in many states following tragic accidents.
All covers come with pre-requisite documentation and exclusions which you should read through and understand comprehensively.
Having done that, an optimum pet-insurance cover is highly advisable to protect the well-being and upkeep of your best friend and, by extension, your own interests.
(The writer is a business journalist specializing in insurance & corporate history)