A new look at America’s pet project
In the United States, we cherish our pets. It’s reflected in the time we spend with them and the comforts, conveniences and care we provide them. According to the American Pet Products Association, expenditures on pets totaled $103.6 billion last year, up from $90.5 billion in 2018. That includes $31.4 billion in vet care and products.
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association says that more than 3.1 million dogs and cats were covered by pet health insurance in 2020, with pet owners spending nearly $2 billion, a 27.5% one-year increase. In the US, the total premium volume was $1.99 billion as of 2020, while in Canada, total volume reached $188 million.
Nearly 3.4 million pets in USA and Canada are insured. Since 2016, the number of pets covered has grown by 18% in the US and 12% in Canada. US owners paid an average $49.92 per month to provide coverage for dogs and $28.44 per month for cats. Canadian owners paid monthly premiums of $52.84 and $25.42 for dogs and cats, respectively.
Last year, we saw the stay-at-home and work-from-home measures introduced during the pandemic create even closer bonds between owners and their pets. These strong human-animal relationships are driving pet owners’ desire to address financial uncertainty by mitigating unexpected veterinary costs, contributing to record 2020 results.
Millions of Americans adopted pets during the pandemic. As those dogs, cats and animals worked their special magic — becoming beloved members of their human families — savvy employers took notice. Employers have seen the impact pets can have in relieving employees’ stress and increasing their happiness and productivity.
With many employees welcoming new family members into their households, there are bound to be implications for new pet-parent finances. According to MetLife’s study, employees are more concerned regarding finances. Millennials and Gen Zers, who comprise the majority of dog parents, have been hit hard by the financial fallout from the pandemic.
Many owners view their animal as more than a friend. Pets are considered family. 78% of owners view their pet as a member of the family, and 34% say their pets is their favorite child. While owning one can be expensive, with annual costs of dog parenting running as high as $2,455, taking care of a furry family member is of utmost importance.
A recent survey from Pets Best Insurance found that 83% of their customers considered themselves a pet parent. There’s no doubt we’ve always loved our pets, but in the wake of the pandemic and ongoing economic turmoil, the narrative is shifting. Pets parents have had to rethink how they feed, provide medical care for and protect their pets.
Why should a pet owner carry insurance on their animal? Because emergency pet care can climb as high as $8,000 for a single treatment. Pet insurance can offer owners some protection when it comes to veterinarian bills for illnesses and accidents — and it can also come in handy during times of uncertainty.
Most pet parents (67%) primarily pay out-of-pocket for vet expenses, and 1 in 5 (22%) pet parents say they are “not very comfortable” financially when it comes to veterinary expenses. By covering accidents, illnesses, surgeries, exam fees, and medications, pet insurance can make sure that these expenses do not strain financially stressed employees.
With many employees grappling with financial stress due to the pandemic, having available cash on hand may be difficult. Pet parents can customize deductibles and reimbursement rates, making their pet insurance affordable and manageable. Pet insurance comes with the peace of mind that claims will be addressed in a timely manner.
Businesses of all sizes in diverse industries are adding pet health insurance to their benefits packages. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management estimates that 15% of employers offer a insurance benefit to employees. Affordable plans are available for a variety of income levels, providing tremendous peace of mind to pet owners.
With companies continually vying for the best people, a pet insurance offering can help differentiate your business from competitors – especially for many Millennial and Gen Y workers. Adding health insurance to your voluntary benefits strategy or offering is a great way to let employees know you recognize their pets are part of their family too.
As the employment market gets more competitive, companies should review their benefits programs to make sure that they are also staying competitive. Adding a pet insurance option could prove to be a great move. Pets are part of the family, and the companionship and love they bring to our lives has never been more important.