Pet insurance arrives in Malaysia

PET insurance may have arrived in Malaysia but the response has been lukewarm to say the least.

Malaysians appear to be still wary about insuring their furry friends although such insurance is a norm, if not a necessity, in developed countries such as Britain, the United States and Australia.

So far, only 14 dogs have been insured under what is believed to be Malaysia’s only pet insurance scheme, Kurnia Pet Care Insurance, since its launch last November.

“Many pet owners are still awed by the idea,” said Hanson Lye, owner of Kuala Lumpur-based Evolutis Sdn Bhd, a registered agent with Kurnia Insurans (M) Berhad.

He said the question was whether Malaysians were ready to embrace the concept of insuring pets.

“We need to find those who are insurance conscious and sufficiently educated on the idea of responsible pet ownership,” he said in an interview.

Lye, however, said despite the relatively small premium, an owner who had, for instance, eight cats must be financially able to afford the plan.

There are currently two types of premiums which cost RM248 and RM328 per annum respectively.

Among others, the insurance scheme covers veterinary fees for accident, illnesses, accidental death, kennel fees, cattery fees, burial, cremation and even third party liability.

Lye said the need to microchip their pets was another factor that deterred owners from insuring the animals.

“Many owners don’t believe in putting things into their pets’ bodies or that they believe the process is very painful and may cause long-term irritations,” he added.

Lye, who also founded PetNation, a pet animal related lifestyle and wellness programme, said the insurance scheme could be obtained by becoming a member of the programme.

The programme also includes the PETS4LIFE! Protection Privilege which focuses on pet identification and recovery of lost pets, as well as online microchip database, pet profile and medical records.

Veterinarian Dr Amreet Singh Gill hailed the insurance plan as a step forward for pet care, saying it would reduce the need for owners to fork out money for their pets’ vet care.

He, however, said details like how pets would be evaluated and what conditions were covered under the plan must be ironed out.

“For example, if medical expenses for pets with diseases and illnesses caused by fleas, ticks and skin of any kind are not covered, then about 50% of the pets will not be entitled to claim for medical attention as a lot of them have such conditions,” he said.

Pet shop owner Teng Su Ling said she was excited about the plan as she had asked several insurance companies about it seven years ago.

“I’ll need to find out more about it and hopefully have my beloved dogs insured,” said the owner of five dogs.

Cat owner Amir Hamzah, however, said he did not believe in pet insurance although it might be good for those who could afford it.

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