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The global pet insurance market was valued at $ 3.2 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $ 7.1 billion by the end of 2023, flourishing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4% during the forecast period.

According to the South African Veterinary Association guideline fee schedule which is issued annually, 2018 saw a 15% increase in these suggested veterinary fees, with a 10% increase the year before. 

Veterinarian Dr Ingrid de Wet says the prices charged by veterinary practices are determined by many variables. Equipment alone for an average Veterinary practice costs about R1 million and is equivalent to what you’d find in many hospitals. 

Their medicine and consumables bills can be as high as R250,000 to R300,000 a month, and these costs are constantly increasing because most of their drugs are imported and dependent on the Rand-Dollar exchange rate.

It is very clear that the cost of owning a pet can have a big impact on your budget. Sterilisation and deworming can cost up to R2,500. A round of vaccinations approx. R500 and a three-month course for flea and tick control approx. another R500. 

Fixing a broken leg can cost up to R15,000, cataract surgery about R20,000 and x-rays R6,000 per year. If your dog or cat gets out of the yard, for example, and is hit by a car, it could cost up to R40,000 in vet bills to save his/her life. As a result, many South Africans choose to put their ailing pets to sleep rather than pay for expensive treatments, experts say.

Though “economic euthanasia” isn’t tracked in South Africa, experts say that in America, two-thirds of the pets put to sleep every week are euthanized for economic reasons.

Pet ownership is on the rise in South Africa due to the growing number of single professionals, empty-nesters, couples who delay having children and families who need additional guard dogs. In 2016, there were an estimated 9.2 million dogs living in SA households, ranking South Africa the ninth highest in the world.

In a still-struggling economy with the rising cost of owning and caring for pets, pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular particularly with dog and cat owners in South Africa as some pet policies provide up to R53,000 in cover annually.  

Dr Jack Stephens, a veterinarian from Boise, Idaho, started the first pet insurance policy in 1981. He was haunted by a dog he had to put down because the owners could not afford treatment. Stephens founded PetsBest insurance (USA), which covers about 80,000 pets as of 2018. 

dotsure.co.za, a top rated South African pet insurance provider that covers dogs and cats is also the first and only to insure both exotic pets (any pet that is not a dog, cat, or farm animal, such as reptiles, birds, bunnies, turtles and tortoises) and senior pets in South Africa (dogs and cats older than 8 years). 

Since dotsure.co.zalaunched its very prominent television advertising campaign in 2018 featuring testimonials from existing customers, the demand for the product has increased dramatically. 

According to a local SEO specialist, “the interest in the pet insurance-related search terms on Google has trebled in the year following the campaign’s introduction and this trend shows no sign of slowing.”

“We have covered more than 100,000 South African pets,” says David Roache, Managing Director of dotsure.co.za. “But we know that we are just starting to see South African’s begin to trust and understand this type of cover. Our campaigns have been designed around educating South Africans that pet insurance actually exists.  Remember, until recently, this was a relatively unknown concept and to those that knew about it, there were very few affordable options for them.” 

According to Roache, the company has paid out more than 30,000 claims in the last 3 years, saving pet owners millions of Rands in vet bills.

Amongst breeds, the Jack Russel Terrier is the most popular enrolled dog, the Domestic Short-Hair the most popular cat and the African Grey parrot the most popular exotic pet. Dogs make up 85% of enrolled pets.

dotsure.co.za offer a unique benefit called Name Your Price, which enables customers to decide how much they can afford to pay monthly for pet insurance. Insurance that is actually controlled by the customer and not the other way around like it is with so many Insurance companies. 

According to Roache, “we do this to provide a better outcome to consumers when protecting the things, they care about most. Our customers are always at the very heart of everything we do, and our aim is to create fans, not policy holders”.

Another area often overlooked is the risk of your pet damaging someone else’s property, or even causing bodily harm to them or their pet. In a recent Eastern Cape High Court case, the victim of a vicious dog attack sued the dog’s owner for R2.4 million, when three dogs escaped from the dog owner’s property and attacked the plaintiff. dotsure.co.za provides all its customers with third-party liability cover to protect them against the financial burden of such incidents within the borders of South Africa.

dotsure.co.za has various benefits that clients can enjoy. According to Roache, “dotsure.co.za has worked closely with a number of practicing veterinarians, as well as real pet lovers and breeders alike in order to develop what we truly believe is not only South Africa’s best pet insurance product, but one that is right up there with the very best available on our planet”.

According to the South African Pet Care Industry Landscape Report, the global trends of pet parenting and pet humanisation whereby pet owners regard pets as members of the family has filtered down to the South African pet care industry, encouraging consumers to spend more on pet products, spoiling their pets as one might spoil a child, reads the Insight Survey. As result of this, South African pet owners have become more attentive in their purchases of pet care products, opting for products and services that treat pets as part of the family.

Pet insurance is a growing market, and for good reason. Our pets are considered to be our family and we should be ready to provide them with the best care should they become seriously injured or ill. Pet insurance provides you with the opportunity to give them the care they deserve for their loyal companionship and unconditional love. The numbers have decided. Protect your pet, and your wallet with pet insurance.

PERSONAL FINANCE