Dog sharing could provide a pet insurance headache

Dog sharing could provide a pet insurance headache

Jun 24, 2015

A recent story in the Sunday Times in the UK explored the booming sharing economy that’s taking a hold of Great Britain. In this modern age, internet apps can be used to source anything from freelance employees to spare rooms to spend the night; however one trend Aquarium Software is paying extra attention to, is the latest match making between pet parents and those wanting a dog for a short period of time. According to Aquarium, new trends like this, whilst attractive to consumers, could have far reaching insurance premium ramifications for the industry as a whole.

Such pet sharing schemes sees pet owners - who could do with some time off from their pooches for any number of reasons -  from work commitments, to holidays, for example, loan their animals to a dog lover who for whatever reason can’t own their own. Aquarium provides bespoke software solutions for pet insurance providers, and is keeping a keen eye on how this trend takes off with one mind on how pet owners loaning their dogs out through these match-making sites could affect the pet insurance industry.

“On the face of it this is a fantastic idea and could be a great way to ensure that animals are looked after in the best way possible,” said Mark Colonnese, Sales and Marketing Director. “It also offers those who really want a pet, but aren’t in a position to have one, the chance to look after a dog at a time that is mutually convenient. Sites like this also allow the dog owner to get to know the borrower and build up trust with whoever will be walking their dog.”

However, although Aquarium was fond of the principles, they believe that they could have implications on pet insurance premiums and coverage if the craze continues in the long term. Generally, sites offering sharing opportunities only cover third party liability, the pet parent may not be covered for certain health and safety complications on an insurer’s terms and conditions when the dog is in the care of someone else.

“It will be concerning for insurers to know that part-time pet owners are taking care of other peoples dogs for an hour or two a day,” said Mark. “You then have to factor that in to any risk when making a quote because you’ve got any number of people borrowing a dog that they’re not used to and don’t necessarily know how to look after it as well as an insurer would like.”

Although sites such as encourage large amounts of interface between pet owner and borrower on top of a supervised “welcome woof” with the pooch, allowing your dog out with a stranger is always leaving a lot up to trust. The site does offer useful advice on what information the pet owner should give to ensure a dog’s safety, but that could still fall short of the care expected by an insurer.

“Examples of dogs escaping and injuring themselves whilst in the care of someone else, or simply going missing would be a grey area when trying to make a claim,” explained Colonnese. “I think what insurers need to do in light of these sites is adapt their claims strategy and build in variables that allow for a fairer quote when pet owners are using these sites, but to do this more sophisticated technology is required and that’s one place where we could help.”

Aquarium have a long history of providing software for the insurance industry, however they recently honed in on the pet insurance market in a bid to make it more profitable by bringing its technology in line with other markets. Their software utilises the cloud as well as ‘management by exception’ to improve both the efficiency and effectivity of an insurer’s claims strategy, whilst at the same time improving the customer journey.

“With pet sharing sites such becoming more prevalent, it’s important that insurers continue to offer great customer service and respect that each pet owner is different and has their own requirements,” said Colonnese. “With better software insurers can build in considerations like whether someone will be loaning there dog out and you could even produce a rating system for the person borrowing the dog. All in all this could provide more accurate and valuable quotes on premiums for the pet owner, without any hit on profitability for the insurer.”