Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Insurance going to the dogs (and cats)?

It's been a while since we visited the world of Pet Insurance, and after the recent pet food scare it seems timely to revisit the subject.
Thanks to The Industry Radar, we're now aware of the Top 10 Reasons we take our pets to the vet: Skin allergies and ear infections top the list for our canine friends, while our feline companions' favorite travails are urinary tract infections and upset tummies.
Most folks don't have pet insurance, so the cost to treat these maladies is 100% out of pocket (and after taxes). According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "only a small percentage of pet owners carry health insurance for their animals." The American Animal Hospital Association reports that about 3% of pet owners have purchased this cover. By contrast, almost 10% of Canadian owners, and about 2% of cat owners, bought this coverage (what, no national pet insurance plan?).
Our cousins across the pond are snarfing it up, though: in the UK, about 12% of cat owners, and an astounding 18% of dog owners, bought pet insurance, according to the latest figures.
Most of the plans available here are based on an indemnity model; that is, reimbursement up to a certain, scheduled amount. They're comparable, for example, to the now ubiquitous mini-meds on the "human" market. And the plans seem to be reasonably priced; I've even seen some offered in corporate cafeteria plans [ed: dog insurance, cafeteria plans; are you sure you're not talking about Korea?].
Just some (dog) food for thought.
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