Time for growth
“I would really like to see awareness of the industry grow,” says Matt Hiesiger, product analyst for Embrace Pet Insurance. “So many people don’t know pet insurance is out there, or they don’t learn about it until their pet is older and already has some issues.”
That said, the number of insured pets has been increasing, especially in the last few years. “It’s been a very busy time for pet health insurance,” says Dr. Jules Benson, chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “I think pet health insurance is something that people have meant to do for a long time in some cases. In 2021, Nationwide hit 1,000,000 pets insured, which has been a big landmark.”
According to Kristen Lynch, executive director of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, recent data indicates that all NAPHIA member companies have experienced significant increases in pet insurance enrollment since the second quarter of 2020.
“We can attribute this to partly a surge in pet adoptions and purchases, combined with a dramatic change in pet owners’ lifestyles,” Kristen says. “People have been at home from work and school. People are getting to know their cats, and cats are getting to know their humans more than ever. If we consider this alongside the pandemic’s impact on our earning and spending habits, it is easy to see why pet insurance is seeing increased growth.”
Decades ago, pet insurance used to be a one-size-fits-most product. But, these days pet insurance companies are continually adjusting their offerings to provide pet owners with more flexibility, benefits and value.
According to Kristen, some recent trends in pet insurance offerings include:
✔ Higher-end pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions
✔ The opportunity to waive the waiting period by taking your cat to the veterinarian for a pre-enrollment examination
✔ Wellness benefits that can be embedded into the policy or purchased separately as a free-standing program alongside your policy
What to look for
Pet insurance offers peace of mind. If you have it, you won’t have to worry about a large, unexpected veterinary bill you can’t afford to pay. There are many insurance companies out there offering many different plans. Do a little homework ahead of time to find a plan that works well for you and your cat.
“Consider what kind of coverage is important to you,” Matt says. “Do you want a low monthly payment? Then consider a higher deductible plan. Do you use complementary care like acupuncture? Make sure you look at a plan that covers those kinds of treatments.”
Dr. Benson recommends asking yourself what it is you hope to get out of a pet insurance policy, then searching for one that fulfills your desires.
“What do you want the insurance for? If it’s for everything, that’s an OK answer,” he says. “Are you looking for coverage on just accidents and illnesses, are you looking for coverage on wellness? Maybe you say, for example, ‘If my cat gets cancer, I want to make sure I’m not more than $1,000 out of pocket.’”
Don’t hesitate to shop around and compare different companies and policies. “With pet insurance, you really do get what you pay for,” Kristen says. “Get multiple quotes so you can decide what you need and what feels like the right level of coverage for you and your cats.
How pet insurance works
Before buying pet insurance, it’s helpful to understand how it functions.
- When you purchase a policy, you usually have the option of paying an annual or monthly premium.
- If your cat becomes sick or injured, you can visit any vet you choose for treatment.
- You pay the bill in full at the time of service, then later submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement.
- Pet insurance covers your cat for illnesses, accidents and injuries, things like upper-respiratory infections, allergies, diabetes, kidney disease, broken legs, etc. Pet insurance does not pay for well-pet services, for instance, annual exams, vaccines, dental cleanings, or flea and tick preventives. If you want such things included in your policy, you can often purchase a wellness “rider” that will reimburse you for a portion of wellness costs throughout the year.
Felix: The First Cat-Specific Pet Insurance
Cats are insured at a much lower rate than dogs. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, dogs make up about 83% of all insured pets in the United States and cats are just 17%. Cats fare a little better in Canada, with a split of about 75% dogs to 25% cats.
A new company is hoping to move the needle on health insurance for cats. Launched in 2021, Felix Cat Insurance is the first cat-specific pet insurance company.
“It was clear that cats were largely overlooked and often treated as an afterthought,” says Rick Fauchner, CEO and co-founder of The Connected Pet Company — the parent company of Felix Cat Insurance. “The offerings for pet insurance were dog-centric, catered to the dog world and lacked affinity for
cat lovers. Felix is all about cats and cats only, though if the cat permits a dog to be present in their domain, we can insure their canine servants, too.”
Some of Felix’s cat-centric features include:
✔ Coverage for office visit charges
✔ Coverage for alternative, holistic and behavioral care
✔ End-of-life benefits
✔ Customizable coverage limits
✔ Wellness and preventive care options
✔ Waive of pre-existing condition exclusions after a 365-day waiting period (available in most states)
For more information about Felix, visit felixcatinsurance.com.