The nation's pet insurance market is growing fast with more insurers introduce new products to meet demand from an increasing number of pet owners.
At Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance, 1,600 Meritz Petpermint Puppy & Dog insurance policies were sold in 10 days after the insurer introduced the product on 15 October, according to a report in The Korea Times. The policyholder renews the contract every three years.
"There have been other insurance products in the market before where a policyholder pays one year's worth of premiums at once. But not many people bought the product because of the cost and limited coverage," said a company official.
"A Meritz Petpermint Puppy & Dog insurance policyholder pays a premium every month, and the contract is renewed every three years. It's the nation's first long-term pet insurance."
The product is also open to unregistered dogs with about a KRW40,000 ($35.12) monthly premium. The insurer said 77% of policyholders are owners of unregistered dogs.
"Pets are required to be registered with the local government under the Animal Protection Law, but only 33.5% of pets were registered as of the end of 2017," the official said.
It generally costs up to KRW2m for knee surgery on a dog, KRW1.3m for molar teeth treatment and KRW800,000 for an MRI. Prices also vary depending on the animal hospital.
Following Meritz's lead, other insurers, including KB, DB and Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance are set to introduce similar insurance policies next month. However, they said they will cover registered dogs only.
"There is a possibility that a policyholder buys the insurance for a dog and later claims for multiple dogs," a DB Insurance official was quoted as saying. Allowing unregistered dogs to be insured also runs counter to the government's stance to fine pet owners who do not register their dogs.
Meritz counterargued that the insurance management system will prevent duplicate claims. "Policyholders are required to submit a medical chart when they claim for their dogs' treatment," the official said.