Pets as dependents in an insurance policy?

UPDATE (August 26, 2020): Really glad to see Bajaj Allianz promote their pet dog insurance, on International Dog Day (today).


Recently, I renewed my annual family health insurance and once again marked my wife and 2 kids as ‘dependents’. It’s at times like this that I feel the weight of my responsibility, albeit momentarily.

But, if I had a pet cat or a pet dog (I do not), would I mention them as ‘dependents’ too? They are, after all, truly dependent on me!

From what I read online (Livemint | Financial Express), while there are insurance policies that you can buy for pets (including dogs, cats, birds, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, rabbits, elephants, among others), there is still no way to add them as dependents in a contract (like insurance).

I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday which talks about a significant interest in having pets as a result of the pandemic. Since people (particularly those who are single) are forced to stay indoors all alone, all through the day, the pets act as their only physical companion, making them as important as a family member!

Quite a few of my client video calls have included a pet or two walking into the screen, either in the front or in the background much more than human children walking in!). My son told me that one of his teachers has a pet dog who walks into the background very often during the class.

The Wall Street Journal article also mentions companies finding that more of their employees have pets than human children, but their employee benefits policies are skewed towards family insurance for human dependents alone due to legacy policies and guidelines.

But things are changing, even in India.

Terms like ‘pet parent’, ‘pet dad’ or ‘pet mom’ are increasingly more acceptable and in usage. That is a small sign that people are being more responsible for their pets (though there is also news about more pets being abandoned during the peak of pandemic lockdowns).

Insurance companies could do a lot more communication around pet insurance policies since almost all insurance advertising and marketing is exclusively geared towards conventional policies – auto, home, health (humans).

One of the few brands (unrelated to pets) that took this topic wonderfully mainstream was Titan, with its 2020 Father’s Day film (made by Ogilvy Bengaluru).

With more awareness and broader acceptability, I’d love to see a time when we are able to officially mention the pets as dependents, one day.



4 thoughts on “Pets as dependents in an insurance policy?

  1. Pets can’t be added as dependents in health insurance policies which are designed for humans. Coverage and premiums will not be compatible for humans and animals. It’s a whole different segment in acturial terms.

  2. Pets can’t be added as dependants in health insurance policies designed for humans. Coverage and premiums will not be compatible for humans and animals. It’s a whole different segment in acturial terms.

    1. I’m aware of that Prakash. But they are actually ‘dependents’ in the truest sense – at least human dependents could move away from us by using their faculties of communication and worldly awareness. Pets cannot. My point in this post is to consider a possibility where we make space for pets as dependents – it was not to insist that they are, already.

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