Whatsapp, especially the groups in it, will give you an unprecedented insight into people’s lives and pastimes. Amid the isolating COVID restrictions, these groups have been the gathering points, with plenty of film recommendations and regular cooking and yoga talks.
A conversation a while ago stopped me. A friend had a sick dog and he suffered with him through his recent lost battle with cancer. He found ample support among group members as he tearfully cremated it.
As pet owners will tell you, pets are part of the family. Pet ownership in India has increased over the past two years of incredible isolation, confinement and hardship. And pets are credited with supporting the sanity and safety of their human parents. Pet care facilities such as feeding, grooming, and medical care are widespread, and even pet spas and hotels are springing up in cities.
With the costs associated with owning a pet, and of course the contingencies, pet insurance can’t be far behind, and rightly so. Several general insurance companies offer comprehensive coverage for your pet, typically for pets, dogs and cats, but pet and bird insurance is also available. From protection against theft to medical expenses, pet insurance offers intuitive coverage including liability.
Different companies offer covers for pets in different age ranges from a few weeks to a few years. Breed, size and age of the animal determine the contribution rate as well as its medical history, vaccinations and the like. You can choose the amount insured (SI) for the policy and if you want to insure a pedigree dog at cost or market value you will need a certificate from the Kennel Club of India.
Primary coverage includes the cost of hospitalization and surgery with typical exclusions. Terminal illness insurance is benefit coverage that pays a lump sum if your pet develops one of the listed terminal illnesses, such as cancer or kidney failure. Whole life insurance pays you the sum insured if your pet dies from illness, accident, or other specified causes. Cremation/funeral benefits may also form part of this coverage.
There are also outpatient treatment and long-term care insurance policies that are actually not available to people, or only with great difficulty.
Some companies offer additional coverages such as forfeiture of the dog show entry fee if the pet is unable to compete due to injury or illness. A valuable protection that will certainly be required in the future is liability insurance. Accidents involving your pet resulting in property damage, injury or death are covered hereunder for SIs of 5-10 lakh and up.
The policy only applies if compensation is awarded by the court, but we’ve read of victims filing lawsuits against pet owners, and some of you may have experienced risky and hair-raising situations in your own gated communities and apartment complexes.
And speaking of building societies and liability, remember that your homeowners association must have liability insurance for their elevators, and this is required by law in many states after a tragic accident.
All covers come with required documentation and exclusions which you should read and fully understand.
Then an optimal pet insurance is very advisable to protect the well-being and livelihood of your best friend and thus also your own interests.
(The author is a business journalist specializing in insurance and corporate history)