Brits cough up more for four legs than two

Brits cough up more for four legs than two

Apr 21, 2014

In the wake of new figures suggesting Brits spend an average of £17,000 ($28,500) on our pets over their lifetime, coupled with a 15% rise in vets fees; Aquarium Software is seeing a corresponding demand for its insurance claims technology as we all put pets before people. Many admit that if it came to a choice, they would insure their pet before themselves, or even their own children1.

“Everyone avoids politics and religion as conversational topics especially when meeting new people, and we could add pets to the list,” said Sales and Marketing Director Mark Colonnese. “Opinions are extremely polarised. Should a pet fall ill, some say, ‘get over it, it's an animal, these things happen,’ while others consider ‘Max’ a member of the family and would take out a second mortgage if necessary to save his life. Should keeping Max healthy include insurance, or is this the road to penury and the industry taking a big bite out of the bank balance?”

Issues of rising costs and fraud surrounding pet insurance has led to major players such as Axa pulling out of the UK market. Thanks to the latest generation of intuitive pet claims software, it was hoped there would be a gradual reduction in pet insurance premiums, but a fourfold rise in fraud has scotched such hopes for now. Yet with the right anti-fraud applications and correctly drafted policies, there is no reason why premiums should not become more competitive in a market begging to be taken by the scruff of the neck.

“This all comes down to the initial question; namely, if a pet falls ill, isn’t that just too bad?” added Mark. “Do consumers regard pet insurance as an investment, where they expect to get back more in benefits than paid out in premiums? Or, is it more like car or home insurance, where you hope nothing ever goes seriously wrong, but you want the cover in the event of disaster?”

There are three main types of pet insurance. ‘Lifetime’ offers a set amount of cover that renews each year; ‘non-lifetime’, which limits how much is paid per condition and ‘accident and injury only’ cover. Which to go for depends on the type of pet owner you are. Quality means lifelong cover and vital for people on fixed incomes, where vet bills for a chronic condition could see them having to face uncomfortable financial decisions. Accident cover may be enough for some, but once claimed, exclusions could mean other insurers will not touch it, while renewals in such cases could see a 40% hike in premiums.

“Insurers are getting there in terms of getting a grip on costs, but there is still much room for improvement,” added Mark. “With the right product information insurers can give people the means to make more informed choices, there and then. Price comparison sites can sometimes be over simplistic are not always able to distinguish the many variables that pet insurance involves and this is something the industry needs to get to grips with.”