the boom in health insurance for dogs and cats

11:35 a.m., April 15, 2022

It is now a veterinary classic: when it comes to paying for diet kibbles and dewormers, advertisements for dog and cat insurance slip in. The principle ? “An animal health mutual”, summarizes Jean-François Rousselot, veterinarian in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine) and president of the French Association of Pet Veterinarians. Average cost: 10 euros per month in the simple formula (accidents) and up to 100 in the premium formula (veterinary care, illness, even death).

Four-legged mutuals were born in the early 2000s with Groupama, one of the first general insurers to enter the niche, then with the Lyonnais SantéVet, the current leader with ECA, both solely dedicated to animal insurance. . In recent times, they have expanded with the arrival of start-ups with a 100% digital offer, which intend to shake up this booming sector.

10% of French dogs and cats are insured, compared to 40% of Britons

Gadget or not? “This choice makes sense from an economic point of view, believes Jean-François Rousselot. Over the past ten years, treatments have become more sophisticated and end up reaching significant sums. » With MRIs, scanners, ultrasounds and increasingly specialized surgery, the bill can quickly climb. Philippe knows something about it: his six-year-old dog, a cane corso named Louna, has just cost him a small fortune: “She had a phlegmon, an infection of the paw, which cost me 400 € of care, says the Marseillais. Then a tearing of the cruciate ligaments on a hind leg, which required the installation of a titanium plate, or chrome, I forgot… ” On the other hand, Philippe remembers the bill well: 1,800 euros!

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According to an Ipsos study carried out in 2020 for SantéVet, in the event of a health problem, canine owners pay an average of 620 euros per year (222 for a cat), a pretty sum. To which should be added routine care (excluding accident and illness), or 211 euros on average per year for a dog (166 for a cat). The French, however, remain mixed: 10% of tricolor dogs and cats are insured, against 40% of the British and 80% of the Swedish. “With us, the sector has long suffered from a negative image because many formulas were expensive and inefficient, admits the Colombes veterinarian. Today it is more transparent. Refunds are easier and faster. »

Many insurers refuse older animals

Any advice before subscribing? First, ask yourself the right questions: is it a purebred animal (more fragile than the others), with outside access (an apartment cat is less at risk than a field tomcat)? If you decide, do it from the first months: “When the animals age, the contracts are more expensive and the care less well reimbursed”, says Jean-Francois Rousselot. For a first contract, many insurers refuse animals that are too old (7 to 9 years old), when health concerns begin. Pay attention also to the reimbursement ceilings (are they annual or limited by act?), to the duration (will a young animal insured be it until the end, without excessive increase in monthly payments?), to the deadlines reimbursement, any deductibles, etc.

As with any insurance, it is advisable to read the contract carefully before signing. A tedious step as some are complex, sometimes full of hidden exclusions: “We started because we found that traditional contracts were precisely too opaque, says Raphaël Sadaka, co-founder of Dalma, one of the latest start-ups in the sector, born in 2021. We focus on total transparency of what is covered or not, as well as on the excellent responsiveness of our teams, who reimburse forty-eight hours after sending a photo of the invoice. » Also with an online veterinary advice platform, this new player intends to play the troublemaker.

As an echo, the leader SantéVet highlights its experience: “After reimbursing our customers for more than eighteen years, we are fully aware of the real care needs and we make sure to meet them as well as possible thanks to our offers. » The war between animal mutuals is raging, which is good news for the consumer since the offer should be improved. In the meantime, you can also opt for the good old savings, on a special account, in case of a hard blow. It will come back to you if Minouche stays healthy. And that’s all we want for him.

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