Mark Harrop Business Development Manager

Jan 19

Genetic modification presents pet insurance complications

In the wake of news that micropigs are experiencing a surge in popularity as pets, pet insurance software expert Aquarium is warning that the miniature ‘teacup’ pigs are set to present considerable insurance complications for insurers, vets and owners alike.

Many have seen cute pictures of these pocket pigs on the internet including celebrities such as Paris Hilton. Usually a breed known as a Bama pig; these genetically modified animals (created initially for medical research), are unique and while breeders claim they make great pets, the experts at Aquarium point out it would be a rash move without considering all the implications of ownership and insurance.

“However cute, buying a pig as a pet entails considerably more risk and responsibilities than a cat or a dog,” said Aquarium’s Sales and Marketing Director Mark Colonnese. “As there is no established breed, there is no guarantee the pig you buy will stay small. Paris Hilton discovered this (unwittingly purchasing a larger breed) and many high street vets are likely to treat a pigs as a farm animal, no matter what the size and may be classed the same by insurers. Both are likely to charge accordingly. Technology may be able to help with some of these issues in the future, but for now people should resist the temptation.”

Attempting to get a farm animal insured as a family pet is not going to be easy and a high premium is inevitable. Vets would also likely treat them as such. These examples would only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to micropigs and the quandaries the insurance would present.

“To deliver manageable micropig pet insurance, a record of pedigree would be a big help and microchips for micropigs could ultimately help but it would need the right software coupled with managing it,” added Colonnese. “We have seen in the UK how microchips for dogs has not been a simple process. It becomes law in April but there is no central database. Over time, technology will be able to assist all parties, especially insurers and vets, but the initial dilemmas could potentially be numerous. It’s for this reason that the development and integration of correct technology is so key for insurers and vets alike.”                  

Responsible breeders are encouraged to microchip dogs already and the same for micropigs would help cut out unscrupulous breeders and prevent some of the issues at source.

“Using software and data can cut down on the potential for pet fraud, which is clearly a risk with any new or exotic pet and the same applies to this small breed of pig,” added Mark. “Advances in software and technology have already revolutionised the pet insurance market both here and overseas and it is only by staying ahead of market trends and using all the available tools that the pitfalls can be eliminated.”

Aquarium specialises in delivering technology platforms for pet insurers. The same processes designed to deliver better pet care and an enhanced customer journey can also be used to detect fraud and register animal history and health. The pet insurance software experts also specialise in improving the effectiveness of the entire process.

“The Aquarium platform has the power to link to veterinary records and claims history and could link to breeder data too,” added Mark. “Such systems can very quickly highlight discrepancies and our software is used to assess pets according not only to individual medical history but the medical issues faced by the breed in general. This can quickly flag areas of concern for all – particularly if your 68 kg micropig turns out to be a 226 kg monster.”