Pet Insurance Is Now Booming
Pet insurance has been available in other parts of the world for nearly a century, but was not offered in North America until 1982, when Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.’s Veterinary Pet Insurance subsidiary sold a policy covering one of the collies who appeared on TV as Lassie. Policies in the early years of the product were very limited and had so many loopholes that the product became infamous for rejecting claims.
Pet insurance has now evolved along with veterinary medicine and pet ownership, and the public image, along with the reliability, of the product has improved. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association reports that approximately 1.6 million pets are now covered by insurance and that the growth rate over the last two years has been 12 percent, making the segment one of the fastest growing in the insurance industry. Although only approximately 1 percent of the 76 million pet owners in North America have pet insurance, many other pet owners are considering purchasing policies.
Pet owners have several reasons to consider insurance. First, pets are now living longer because of advances in veterinary medicine, and older pets are more likely to develop health problems. These advances also cause the cost of treatment to rise, and pet owners now spend an average of $235 for routine visits and $551 for surgical procedures for dogs, and $196 and $368, respectively, for cats.