Mark Harrop Business Development Manager

Sep 11

Dog depression claims surge stresses importance of smart data

A surge in claims for psychological issues for pets has highlighted the importance of up-to-date technology for pet insurers, says Aquarium. The Co-operative Insurance has reported that over the past three years they have seen a six-fold rise in the number of owners claiming for such conditions as depression, anxiety and poor behaviour. The insurer has also reported that it has received more claims in 2015 year to date - for problems such as anxiety and aggression - than it did for the whole of 2014.

Pet insurance software expert Aquarium believes that the rise in claims of this nature could coincide with an accompanying rise in claims being incorrectly assessed, reinforcing the need for up-to-date relevant business rules to handle some of the more nuanced claim scenarios. Mark Colonnese, Sales and Marketing Director at Aquarium believes the unprecedented rise in pay-outs (to treat such four-legged mental conditions) demonstrates the vital importance of intelligently specified and deployed information systems for the pet insurance industry.

“When new types of claims come into the market on a large scale, insurers need to ensure they are prepared to handle them,” explains Mark. “Once an insurer has defined their policy in regards to psychological/behavioural type claims it important they have the tools to assess them fairly and eliminate unnecessary or invalid claims payments. Aquarium’s bespoke technology platform allows pet insurers to hone their systems in an efficient and effective manner, identifying the subtleties of certain claims scenarios which would otherwise may not be correctly assessed. Its software encapsulates collaborative data sharing models, and adopts an intuitive ‘management by exception’ approach - improving the efficacy of an insurer’s claims strategy.

“We find that as time goes on, the ability to categorise claims becomes more complex due to the ever expanding range of what is defined as a ‘claim’,” says Mark. “Before, the idea of pet parents claiming for their four-legged friends on psychological grounds wouldn’t have been taken seriously. Claims technology needs to be ahead and on top of such trends, to offer the best possible customer journey and claims processing.”

With industry sources suggesting that more than 80,000 pet behaviour related claims were made last year, and an estimated one in four dogs suffering from depression or a related emotional disorder, the potential for behaviour related pet insurance claims to rise is significant.

Bills for treatment can start from £100 for a prescription of pills to boost a pet’s mood, to more than £1,000 to help a formerly abused rescue dog become less aggressive in public. Cover for treatment of this type can add an extra 10% to a typical premium. With insurers paying out more than £600 million to cover veterinary bills last year, an increase of nearly 15 per cent from 2013, its more vital than ever that insurers implement responsive, future-proof technology for each step of the process, from ‘quote and buy’ to claims.