As any new pet owner will find out, owning a pet dog or cat (or hamster/fish/ any other pet) is a heavy responsibility. As much as we love our fur kids and pets, the resources and support available for our pets is not as readily available as that for humans. This can mean panicked emergency calls to the vet when your fur baby has any incidents (from vomiting, sudden limping, seizure, or to accidents).
As a new pet owner who recently brought my cat to the vet and incurred a $300 bill to have an expert examine some suspicious lumps, I know vet visits can be expensive. So, does it make sense to buy pet insurance for our pet dog or cat?
Pet Insurance In Singapore Only Covers Dogs (And Cats)
If your pet bird, rabbit, hamster (or any pet that falls outside of the canine and feline variety), you are outside of the coverage of the current pet insurance providers. Most pet insurances cover dogs and some cover cats (often at a lower coverage).
Here are the main 4 pet insurance providers in Singapore:
|AON HappyTails/ NTUC Income||PetCare by Liberty Insurance||AIA Paw Safe||CIMB My Paw Pal/ Sompo|
|Pets Covered||Dogs and Cats||Dogs and Cats||Dogs||Dogs and Cats|
|Eligible Age||16 weeks and below 9 years old||8 weeks old and not more than 9
|3 months to 7 years old||12 weeks old and not more than 7 years old|
|Accident Coverage||Surgical treatment of any sicknesses, injury or accident including post-surgical follow-up. Specified hereditary and congenital conditions and cancer treatment are also covered.||Accidental death: $1,000/ $2,000/ $3,000
Accidental injury: $500/ $750/ $3,000
|Accidental death: $1,000 or purchase price, whichever is lower.
Vet fees due to accident: up to $1,000.
Cremation or burial expenses due to death by accident: up to $250.
|Accidental death: $1,500.
Medical expenses due to accident: up to $1,500 per year. Minimum medical claims of $100.
Cremation or burial expenses due to death by accident: up to $300
|Illness Coverage||Non-surgical: $500/ $750/ $3,000
Surgical: $1,000/ $2,000/ $10,000
1. Medical expenses due to illnesses: up to $1,500 (inclusive of basic plan). Minimum medical claims of $100.
2. Cremation or burial expenses due to death by illness: up to $300 (inclusive of basic plan)
|Theft||N.A.||$300/ $500/ $1,000 (for dogs only)||$1,000 or purchase price, whichever is lower.||Option A: up to $1,500|
|Third-Party Liability||Dogs: $100,000/ $250,000/ $500,000
|$100,000/ $250,000/ $500,000||Up to $1,000,000||Up to $250,000|
|Deductible||$250||$50 for accidental injury, $500 for third-party liability||$150 for vet fees, $250 for loss due to theft, $1,000 for third-party liability||N.A.|
|Co-Insurance||20% if enrolled before age 4
30% if enrolled before age 7
40% if enrolled before age 9
|50% for non-surgical treatment, 30% for surgical treatment||N.A.||N.A.|
|Annual Limit||Dogs: $3,500/ $7,500 /$12,500
|No Claim Discount||Up to 15%||Up to 15%||N.A.||N.A.|
|Annual Premium||By quote. For a 3-year-old poodle: $425.62/ $516,83/ $608.04.
For a 3-year-old cat: $320.93
|$350/ $450/ $750||$79.49 (including GST) for microchipped dogs, $84.58 for non-microchipped dogs||$87.74 (including GST) for basic,
$32.10 (including GST) for Option A (not available for cats),
S$321.00 (including GST) for Option B
Additionally, not all breeds can be insured. For example, breeds like Mastiffs and Bull Terriers may be excluded by some insurers. Working pets or pets used for breeding purposes may also be excluded.
Some insurers also set a limit for the number of insured pets per household which may not be suitable for multi-pet households.
Pet Insurance Usually Requires Co-Insurance And Deductible
Most of the insurance coverage available has co-insurance and deductible requirements. This may limit your ability to claim. If the deductible component is high, you may end up still paying out of pocket for your pet’s treatment.
For example, if the deductible for vet fees is $150 but your eligible vet visit only costs $120, you would not be able to claim from your insurer.
For cases where co-insurance is high (e.g. 40%), it may actually make sense in certain instances not to claim and receive the no-claim discount. For example, the maximum no-claim discount of 15% on Liberty Insurance’s PetCare is $112.50 for their highest tier policy. If your pet’s non-surgical treatment is less than $225, you may be better off not making an insurance claim as the 50% co-insurance would mean that the claim amount is less than no-claim discount.
Illnesses May Not Be Covered Or Covered Separately
Pet insurance plans that cover illnesses (not just injuries due to accidents) are more expensive. On average, pet insurance plans that provide illness or non-accident medical expenses coverage start their cost at $300 onwards.
In contrast, pet insurance plans that only provide accidental coverage are much cheaper at around $80 for AIA Paw Safe and CIMB My Paw Pal (without the additional cover options). This could be a viable option for pet owners who want the peace of mind for accident coverage and don’t mind paying out of pocket for medical expenses.
Common Reasons For Vet Visits Are Not Covered
Assuming that pet owners are willing to pay the additional premium for illness or non-accident medical expense coverage, there may be a reason to think twice because many of the common causes for vet visits are excluded.
For example, preventative care such as annual check-ups, vaccinations; spay/neuter procedures and teeth cleaning are not claimable. Flea control, heartworm medication, de-worming are common treatments that are also not covered. Pre-existing conditions are also commonly not covered.
Poor dental health care is a common cause of vet visits. However, dental care is not included in all of the available pet insurance plans. Unsterilised pets would also be excluded from coverage for common ailments related to the reproductive system.
In general, assuming that your pet is generally healthy and not predisposed to any ailments, the more common reasons for seeing a vet would not be covered by insurance.
One procedure that is covered (sometimes subject to annual limits) is foreign body obstruction. If your pet is prone to chewing and swallowing things that it is not supposed to and requires surgical removal, forking out the extra for pet insurance that covers surgical treatments may be worthwhile.
Consider Saving An Emergency Fund As Your Pet Insurance
Regardless of whether you choose to buy a pet insurance plan (or which plan you choose), it is still a good idea to save up a regular amount to put towards your pet’s health. As mentioned above, preventative care is not covered under insurance but is an essential part of maintaining your pet’s health. While your pet may be young and healthy now, older pets may require more care and support and supplements/ elective treatments are often not covered by insurance.
If accident coverage is important to you as a pet owner, AIA Paw Safe and CIMB My Paw Pal may be suitable for you. If you prefer to have additional medical expense coverage, consider AON HappyTails, PetCare by Liberty Insurance or springing for the additional coverage under CIMB My Paw Pal.
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