Mark Harrop Business Development Manager

Oct 08

Pets on a plane? Perhaps not plain sailing

Following news that one budget airline is considering allowing pets on its short-haul flights, Aquarium Software, the global pet insurance technology expert, has warned of the problems the move could create. It believes that pet insurers’ technology must be up-to-date to cope with the potential rise in requests for cover, and a subsequent likely surge in pet claims. Currently, some airlines allow small pets in the cabin space, but few budget airlines offer the same, leading Aquarium’s Mark Colonnese to warn that the floodgates could open for other budget airlines and present both policy pricing and claims problems down the line.

“Having pets in the cabin space is understandably convenient for pet parents, but for insurers and other passengers, the idea presents a range of quandaries,” explained Mark. “It’s only natural that given the environment, the chances of pets being at risk may increase when cabin air pressure and quality, and the stress of travelling are taken into account.

An unfamiliar environment, claustrophobic spaces, loud noises and many people in close proximity are just a few other examples that make flying a potential hazard for pets. Not to mention the risk of a stressed pet attacking another passenger and the resultant risk of a potentially expensive 3rd party liability claim.

“Given pet parents love for their four-legged friends, and as a result the number of people willing to bring their pets into cabin spaces, it’s vital that insurers have the correct technology deployed to cope with requests for specific cover, and subsequent claims made,” said Mark.

Some budget airlines allow pets on their planes, but only in the hold, whilst one budget airline doesn’t allow pets anywhere near its planes. Germanwings allows cats and dogs in its cabins, so long as they weigh less than 8kg and are not so-called “attack dogs” like Staffordshire bull terriers and Pit Bulls, but this service is not available in the UK. One on-demand private jet charter company currently runs a service called ‘Pets on Jets’, offering those travelling the chance to sit alongside their pet in a private area.

“These are already interesting times for the pet insurance market globally, said Mark. The added challenge of coping with more pets flying will simply accentuate the need for insurers to have the right systems and technologies to be able to react nimbly to such rapidly changing consumer trends.”