Posted on September 13, 2015
The Changing Landscape of Pet Health Insurance
Flipping through the September 1st edition of Time Magazine, I came across a full-page ad featuring an attractive, 20 to 30 year old, blond haired woman planting a kiss on the jowl of a lovely looking Bernese Mountain Dog. The caption accompanying the photo read, “In the Nation, what’s precious to you is precious to us.” The advertiser, Nationwide Pet Insurance, is part of the same Nationwide company who, for years has imprinted our brains with, “Nationwide is on your side.”
This ad surprised me on several levels. To begin with, I’d never heard of Nationwide pet health insurance. So, I called the number in the ad and was greeted with, “Thank you for calling Nationwide, formerly Veterinary Pet Insurance.” Ah, so this made sense. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) has been around for as long as I can remember. Apparently, Nationwide has been their underwriter for some time now, but the official name change from VPI to Nationwide occurred just a few weeks ago. The Nationwide representative I spoke with told me that, in part, the purpose behind the new branding was to entice people to qualify for multi-policy discounts- accomplished by insuring pets along with home and/or vehicles. Pretty clever marketing if you ask me.
Perhaps the bigger surprise for me was finding a pet product ad of any sort in Time, and within the first dozen pages of the magazine, no less. I’ve been a reader of Time for years, and never before have I seen an ad even remotely related to pets. Nationwide must have spent a pretty penny for their full-page advertisement, suggesting that they must believe there’s big money to be made in the pet health insurance business.
The current state of pet health insurance
It appears that the pet insurance industry is rapidly and rather dramatically evolving. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) confirms this. NAPHIA represents more than 20 different pet insurance brands currently marketed across the United States and Canada. According to their research, the pet health insurance industry is achieving record growth. Total North American premiums in 2014 hit $660.5 million with 1.4 million pets insured. This represents a 12.8 percent hike in premiums and a 10.6 percent increase in the number of pets insured compared to 2013.
Dennis Rushovich, president of NAPHIA believes that, thanks to the human/animal bond, pet health insurance is increasingly becoming an integral part of responsible pet ownership. He stated, “Pets have moved from the barnyard to the backyard to the bedroom. As a result, this industry’s growth continues to outpace most other insurance categories.”
What’s your take on pet health insurance?
Have you contemplated health insurance for your pets? Deciding whether or not to purchase health insurance for your pet can be a confusing task. Stay tuned as my next blog post will help you walk through the decision making process.
Do you have a health insurance policy for your pet? If so I would love to hear your impressions.
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.