New Pet Insurance Company: PetPremium

PetPremium, the latest entry into the US pet insurance market, opened for business last week. Within hours of opening, the company sold its first policy to the owner of a Shiba Inu puppy.

Sandy Boucher, the CEO, was previously chief marketing officer with PetPartners, the agency behind AKC pet insurance.   Frans Van Hulle, the President, also runs Revi Media, a successful lead generation company. The Hartville Group will administer the policies.

It will be interesting to see how quickly PetPremium can grow. Revi Media is a savvy online marketer that generates thousands of leads per day for other insurance categories (auto, health, disability, etc.) This background should help them compete against the established companies in . . . → Read More: New Pet Insurance Company: PetPremium

Economist Explains Why She Bought Pet Insurance

Megan McCardle, a popular economics columnist, recently wrote a column explaining her decision to buy pet insurance for her bullmastiff puppy. McCardle gives two reasons for buying her policy: 1) she thinks the cost is cheap and 2) the insurance will allow her to make medical decisions without financial considerations being a factor.

McCardle pays $60 per month for a high-deductible policy that has no lifetime limit. Some may dispute that this amount is cheap, but she feels that compared to the thousands of dollars of coverage that she now has for things like chemotherapy and transplants, it is a great deal.

But the main reason for the purchase is that she doesn’t want to have to make the difficult decision about how much to spend on vet care should her bullmastiff have a serious medical problem in the future.  I hear this quite a bit from pet parents who purchase insurance for the peace of mind it brings.

McCardle also mentions that she paid $5,000 for back surgery for her last bullmastiff. This is not surprising, as we have noticed that the pet owners most interested in pet insurance are ones who have racked up substantial vet bills with a previous pet. In fact, it is unlikely that McCardle’s primary reason for purchasing pet insurance, to avoid weighing her her pet’s life against her bank balance, would even have crossed her mind if this was her first puppy.

Prior experiences with sick pets, and the corresponding vet bills, is a reason to expect the US pet insurance market to . . . → Read More: Economist Explains Why She Bought Pet Insurance

Is it OK to Spend $6,000 on your Dog?

Interesting article in the NY Times about a 13-year old bichon frise who needed a $6,000 gallbladder surgery. The piece highlights two trends in pet healthcare: 1) advances in veterinary medicine allow for all sorts of life-extending options for sick pets that simply were not possible a couple of decades ago and 2) the treatment of pets as family members, deserving of pricey medical care.

Even better are the reader comments after the article.  While there are many people who complain that spending $6,000 to save a dog is a clear example of misguided priorities, the majority of the readers feel that people should spend their money on things that bring them happiness.

I have to agree with the majority.  Nobody complains when a family spends several thousand dollars to take a trip to Disney World.  So why does spending the same amount on a beloved pet cause . . . → Read More: Is it OK to Spend $6,000 on your Dog?

2012 VPI Hambone Award

This years VPI award for the most unusual claim goes to Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix, who somehow was buried alive after a tussle with a skunk.   Peanut suffered from hypothermia and spent two days under a vet’s care.  More info on the . . . → Read More: 2012 VPI Hambone Award

2 pet insurers listed on Inc 500

Demonstrating that the pet insurance market continues to grow in the down economy, two US based pet insurers were named to the 2011 Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies.

PetPlan listed 2010 revenue of $18.7 million with 40 employees. PetFirst Healthcare listed revenue of $3.3 million and 32 employees.

We are assuming that PetFirst is using its commission amount as revenue, while PetPlan is using its gross premium amount as revenue. For an apples to apples comparison, PetFirst should have about $11 million in gross premiums (using a 30% commission rate.)

If we further assume an average annual premium of $300 for each company, we would estimate that PetPlan has approximately 62,000 active policies, while PetFirst has approximately 37,000 . . . → Read More: 2 pet insurers listed on Inc 500

Note to Fido: Just Stay Healthy

An author from New Zealand claims that “pet insurance [is] not worthwhile for healthy pets.” He notes that “if pets are healthy and do not require any major treatment or operation, then it is not worth going for an insurance plan.”

Hard to argue with that logic. Similarly, if you are never going to get into a car accident, auto insurance is not worth it. Same goes with human health insurance: if you are healthy and won’t be requiring any serious medical treatment during your life, you may want to just skip on insurance altogether.

Not sure why many people don’t grasp that insurance is primarily a hedge against an unexpected occurrence. And pet insurance is best used by owners to avoid economic euthanasia – putting down a beloved pet because they can’t afford the vet costs.

But the author is certainly correct – pet insurance is not worth it if your pet is never going to . . . → Read More: Note to Fido: Just Stay Healthy

VPI’s PR department is crazy good

Google news is showing 102 articles about Ellie, the beehive eating Lab who won the Hambone award – VPI’s contest to find the most unusual pet insurance claim.

The media cannot get enough of these pet related stories. Whether they involve kooky pet name contests, top reasons pets visit the vet on Christmas day or articles about dogs named after the SuperBowl teams, VPI has found a way to consistently keep its name in the press.

Someone at VPI deserves a bonus . . . → Read More: VPI’s PR department is crazy good