It was one of my routine visits to our adored vet, Dr. Shivaji.H.Talekar, for Angel’s vaccination. It’s been five years, and we almost always meet Rio, a six year old female Rottweiler. While we pet-parents have become so familiar with each other, that we discuss anything under the sun; Angel and Rio keep themselves and the onlookers busy with their favorite entertainment, a game of ’Tug-of-war’. It was very unusual that for the past 4-5 visits Rio was not to be seen. Out of habit, Angel searched for Rio in every nook and corner of the clinic. I couldn’t control myself from asking Dr. Talekar about Rio. That’s when he broke the news, that Rio had some hip problems for some time now, and had probably fallen prey to ‘Hip Dysplasia’. In some dogs, genetic factors which are aggravated by environmental factors, is the cause for painful arthritis which induces ‘lameness’ of joints. It is common in most of the animals and in humans, but it is very specific to dog breeds, especially, Molossers (also known as Mastiffs).
In their enthusiasm to keep Rio happy, she was always well fed, even if she was not hungry. Since Mr. & Mrs. Dudhat were hard pressed for time due to their successful careers, they hardly had the time to see if Rio is burning all the calories that they were contributing out of love.Dr. Talekar has been advising Rio’s pet-parents, Mr. & Mrs. Dudhat, to control Rio’s weight and prescribing non-steroidal painkillers. But now, she has reached a stage where Hip replacement Surgery was the only option.
I was shocked! I immediately picked up the phone to speak to Mr. Dudhat. He did not sound his usual self. I know what is eating him up. For a parent, the offspring should always be healthy and energetic, be it humans or pets. I didn’t want to add to his distress by asking for too many details. He was devastated by Rio’s ill-health and was concerned about the surgery-its results and the costs involved. I assured him that Dr. Talekar is an expert who would take care of the first two aspects and for the costs? I had an answer!!!
Mr. Dudhat in his worries, had completely forgotten that I as a sensible pet parent had not only suggested him to take a pet insurance, but had also ensured that he took the right cover because he has given an ECS (Electronic Clearing Services) facility to deduct his insurance premiums and the amounts were too small for anyone to notice. It is no surprise that he has almost forgotten about the insurance policy.Now what is Pet insurance?
For a small premium, pet insurance fills the void in your pocket (upto some extent) that arise out of the medical costs, if your pet falls ill or is injured in an accident. The majority of insurance policies, however, do not cover the expenses incurred by routine and/or preventive treatment. The main purpose is to meet the risk of huge medical expenses incurred while treating ill/accident-injured pets. The insurance covers death due to diseases or accidents occurred during the policy period subject to conditions, and usual terms exclusions of the policy. All the exclusions are similar to that of ‘Cattle Insurance’ except for PTD (Permanent Total Disability) because there is loss of income due to disability of cattle.
So without waiting further, Mr. Dudhat fixed up an appointment for Rio’s Hip replacement Surgery.
The surgery was successful and she was put into a strict exercise restriction for twelve weeks (post-op). And at the end of the sixth week, Rio was back with Angel, playing ‘Tug-of-war’. It was very nice to see a relieved Mr. Dudhat. He was all praises for the insurance claim which was sanctioned within 10 days of submission of hospital reports and surgery details.
Not all Pets are as lucky as Rio, who has a loving, caring and affluent pet parent. Crystal, a mischievous 2 year old male Pug (was orphaned because of his skin infection), nearly died in a road accident but for the support of an NGO who found him at the roadside.
He was severely injured and was profusely bleeding. If left unattended, he would not have seen the next day. His right hind limb was crushed and could not be reconstructed. The surgeon had to amputate it. It took a long time to fit in the prosthetic leg. Surgery expenses, post-operative care, and the prosthetic limbs had to be sponsored by the NGO who brought him from the accident site.
For Crystal, even if there was an insurance policy, insurance claims wouldn’t have been of much help, because, prosthetics and other mobility devices are not covered under the policy.
Pet insurance has to evolve from its nascent stages in our country and exclusions like this deter the pet-parents from insuring their pets. In many instances, the once pampered pet, after being diagnosed with a severe illness, is mercilessly abandoned by some pet-parents. Let alone treating them, these pet-parents do not even allow the unfortunate pets to stay in their house and have a morsel of food. As the pets are fed from time-to-time and are habituated to all the comforts of a household, life becomes hell when they are shown the streets and left to fend for themselves.
Rio is fortunate enough to bounce back to normalcy and to meet the hopes of her pet-parents who knew the benefits of insurance and Crystal too is lucky enough to be spotted by an NGO who took complete care of him. Since prosthetics are not aesthetics, but are essentials, insurance companies should come up with more humane exclusions.
If this happens, it would provide a scope for pet-parents to avoid being in a situation of abandoning their pets. If demand for pet insurance increases, insurance companies would have a scope to come with a wider range of products. Thus, insurance is hope for some and scope for many. Now, have you got a pet insurance ?