Money & Banking

Huge opportunity seen in pet life insurance

Priya Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 20, 2011 Published on July 20, 2011

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With rising veterinary costs, there is an increasing demand for health insurance for pets, although this product is currently not available. On the other hand, pet life insurance which is available, finds hardly any takers.

“Pet health insurance as a product is not available in India today due to the small market size of pet insurance. Due to the high costs of maintaining a pet and due to ever-increasing veterinary expenses, there will be a considerable number of people opting for pet health insurance in the next two years,” said Dr Ashok Patil, Head-Rural Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

In two years' time, it is hoped, there will be some pet health insurance products in the market.

Life insurance

People opting for pet life insurance are usually from the rich or upper-middle classes who have expensive pets at home. (Dogs and cats are usually grouped under the category of pets. Horses, sheep, cattle, cows and buffaloes are grouped under livestock.)

Regional offices of insurance companies in rural areas find many farmers taking an insurance policy for their farm animals. Different policies and covers are available for different animals.

“Our pet insurance policy provides insurance to dogs against death due to accident or due to disease except rabies, canine distemper and leptospirosis, which the pet can be vaccinated against,” said Mr Deepak Bhalerao, Chief Regional Manager, Oriental Insurance.

“The dog is insured up to its market value. Its market value should be certified by a vet and also photographs from all angles of the pet need to be provided. For dogs, we charge a premium of five per cent,” he added. For other bigger animals, metal tags are attached to them for identification.

Takers of pet insurance are at present very few, but insurance companies see a huge potential in this niche product offering. “We insured (life) about 200 pets last year (five per cent of this figure is cats, the remaining are dogs). We have seen an increase of about 10-15 per cent over the last year. This year, we have already insured over 100 pets,” said Dr Patil, who says that out of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance's total premium of Rs 2,905 crore, about 8.50 per cent is generated from rural areas (under which category both pet and livestock insurance are clubbed).

Advertising

Since the demand for pet insurance is not much at present, insurance companies are not devoting much time or money towards advertising and marketing costs. According to some insurance companies, nobody specifically comes looking for pet insurance and therefore they are not even putting up the insurance policy on their Web sites.

Oriental Insurance offers pet life insurance. Looking at the trends, many insurance companies are exploring the option of including pet health insurance in the future. “People who opt for pet life insurance will be prospective buyers for the health insurance cover,” said an official from an insurance company who did not wish to be named.

On an average, pet owners spend around Rs 2,000-3,000 on treatment of their pet every time it falls sick. “I am emotionally attached to my dog and do not treat it as a financial asset. But I would go in for health insurance because medical expenses are skyrocketing,” said a pet owner.

Published on July 20, 2011
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