Your pets are precious family members and you want them to live long happy and healthy lives. To make sure they get medical help when they need it, you’ve invested in pet medical aid. What you might not know is that often, medical aid won’t fully cover their treatment (and your costs) should your pet need an operation or need emergency care. So, supplementing your pet medical aid with the right pet insurance can keep this from happening. 


Here’s what you need to know about the difference between pet medical aid and pet insurance and why First for Women’s pet insurance cover can suit you (and your furry friend’s) needs.


Why do people buy insurance for their pets?

Many people don’t realise just how much emergency pet care costs can escalate. Even with careful training and attention, accidents do happen. It can take seconds for a curious puppy to swallow a stray piece of Lego or a dropped chicken bone. Foreign object removal (one of the most common and costly veterinary procedures) can end up costing you thousands of rands.


Even if you’ve diligently paid your pet medical aid every month, you could find that it doesn’t cover such an extensive or complex procedure. And if you simply don’t have the money to spare, you might have to make a heartbreaking decision on behalf of your pet. People buy pet insurance* for their pets for extra peace of mind. It gives them the reassurance that, should the unexpected occur to their pet, their treatment won’t rake up a massive bill. 


Pet medical aid vs insurance: what’s the difference? 

Although they’re often referred to interchangeably, pet medical aid and pet insurance are distinct products with different types of coverage. 

What is pet medical aid and what does it cover?

Generally speaking, pet medical aid helps cover the day to day costs of having a pet. This can include scheduled appointments for planned procedures, such as having your pet spayed, getting their teeth cleaned or taking them for an annual check-up. It can also cover minor but common health issues your pet might face, such as a worm infestation or a minor accident. Many pet medical aids offer additional benefits like coverage for behavioural training or emergency boarding should you go on holiday or be temporarily unable to care for them.

The coverage you get from your pet medical aid will differ according to the level of coverage you’re paying for and what the insurer offers. Depending on your coverage, it might not cover hereditary diseases that are common in your breed of pet. It also might not cover any personal liability claims. This would cover you financially should your pet injure another pet or person or damage someone’s property or belongings.


What is pet insurance and what does it cover?

Depending on your level of coverage, pet insurance covers all or some of the larger costs of your pet’s medical treatment. It can limit its cover to accidental and emergency procedures (such as your pet getting hit by a car or swallowing a nail) to more comprehensive coverage (treating them for cancer and other major diseases). 


You can think of your pet insurance as an emergency fund that kicks in when you need it the most and that you generally won’t rely on to keep your pet well on a daily basis. Unlike medical aid, pet insurance takes into account that the circumstances for you using your insurance can differ dramatically from how you use your pet medical aid. It’s why in many cases, a waiting period won’t apply to you or you won’t need to pay an excess. 


Important Differences Between Pet Medical Aid And Pet Insurance

Pet medical aid and pet insurance products are administered differently. Understanding this is important as it can inform the coverage you receive. 

Pet medical aids operate similarly to human medical aid schemes as they both aren’t permitted to operate at a profit. On the other hand, pet insurance is governed by short term insurance laws and underwritten by insurance companies, allowing it to make a profit. This matters, as it means that there are no prescribed minimum benefits medical aids must cover at all levels. 

To make sure you enjoy the full benefits from your pet insurance or pet medical aid, you need to clearly understand what each product offers. A number of factors can affect this, such as how exotic your pet is, how old they are, and if they have any pre-existing conditions. This will influence what exclusions or inclusions apply so that you can rest assured that your coverage will be more than sufficient.

What you can expect to pay for pet insurance in South Africa?

Pet insurance prices vary dramatically in South Africa, with the average coming in at R250 to R300 a month. However, this depends on the coverage being provided. For example, First for Women’s Fur Baby Basic entry-level plan covers accidents and major surgeries for just R100 per dog or cat, per month. It’s a good choice for older pets who might not qualify for or need comprehensive coverage. Alternatively, the Premium Paws plan costs R550 per dog and R320 per cat. This plan offers higher value coverage than the entry-level plan and also covers diagnostics and scans.


Get a pet insurance quote from First for Women

Pet insurance might seem to offer similar benefits to your existing pet medical aid, but it could be a lifesaver should you be faced with a health or medical emergency. Check pet insurance costs, or apply online for a free pet insurance quote



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