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ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Protects Pets ‘Against the Unexpected’

The pet insurance company offers flexible plans for whatever life may have in store.

Photography via ASPCA

When it comes to your pet’s health, ASPCA Pet Insurance isn’t cutting any corners. The Ohio-based company, founded in 2006 by Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group in partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), offers an array of customizable features so you can tailor-make the perfect plan for your pet. Choosing your coverage, deductibles, and payout limits may seem like a lot, but Crum & Forster’s VP of Operations Liz Watson believes that “doing your homework” is crucial when it comes to insurance. Watson talked to Quiddity about the evolving role of pets in the family, what to look for in a plan, and protecting your pet against the unexpected.

Founded in 2006, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance is a partnership between the Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). What led to the joint venture?
Our relationship with the ASPCA is unique in the industry. We are the only company in the insurance space that they’ve had a strategic relationship with. What aligns us with the ASPCA is a shared mission to help pets live longer and happier lives, and access to healthcare can help pets achieve that goal. From being a pet owner myself (I have four cats and two dogs), I know what it’s like to want to take the very best care of your pet. You never want to have to make a difficult decision because you don’t have enough money for a treatment.

What is unique about ASPCA pet insurance plans?
In the last three or four years, a lot of the competitors have landed on the basic fundamentals in terms of coverage. When you get past the commonality of the products in general, I think our specific advantage is we provide coverage for exam fees. Another thing that’s important is that pets of any age can stay covered with us. Some plans have an upper age limit for coverage. With us, you can enroll at any time, and you don’t “age out” of your policy. Old pets need the same kind of protection and coverage as young ones.

Is pet insurance more important for certain breeds over others?
Some pets are more likely to have certain kinds of issues. But I think that pet insurance is less about protecting breeds with challenging issues and more about protecting against the unexpected. A dog can jump off the couch chasing something and hurt its leg at any point. I think every pet owner has had a circumstance when their dog or cat has eaten something that they were not designed to eat. One of my dogs is very fond of eating socks. I don’t know why Henry is so into eating socks, but it’s his thing. The unexpected is more common—and expensive—than people think.

What's the most important thing to consider when choosing a pet insurance plan?
Doing your homework! You’re buying a complicated product. Understanding the deductibles, annual limits, and co-pays offered is really important. Another thing is to look at the number of plan options. Some companies offer an unlimited annual deductible and a couple levels of co-pay, but that can end up being very expensive. We’re proud of having annual limits ranging from $5000 all the way up to unlimited, which lets the pet parent figure out the best coverage that they can afford for their pet. Lastly, ask your friends and family: do they have any opinions on pet insurance? At the end of the day, people need to feel comfortable with their choice.

Culturally, pet insurance is really starting to grow because the relationship people have with their pets has changed.

Since ASPCA Pet Health Insurance launched, how has the industry evolved?
The most exciting thing is not about pet insurance, but pets in general. If you think back 15 or 20 years, dogs and cats had a very different role in the family. They were not considered a member of the family. Today, a lot of people say “pet parent,” and that means a very different emotional bond with an animal. Culturally, pet insurance is really starting to grow because the relationship people have with their pets has changed.

Another thing that’s important to mention is the kinds of care that a pet can get from a veterinarian. The technology has changed so much. The level of sophistication and delivery of service has really changed in the animal health space.

The last thing is, baby boomers used to be the largest demographic owning companion dogs and cats. Now, millennials have a higher incidence of owning a dog or a cat than baby boomers. Pets are a form of companionship, particularly in the urban space. And having a pet to come home to is part of the lifestyle of the millennial professional. From a business standpoint, that means that the product needs to be easy to enroll in and use digitally.

What is your strategy for engaging with pet owners on social media?
We believe it’s very important to have a robust Facebook community with pet parents, whether they’re policyholders or not. We also take advantage of LinkedIn for our B2B marketing. On that platform, we have a thought leadership program that tells our story to employers, from a voluntary benefits perspective. Pet insurance is one of the most frequently requested benefits, and offering it helps recruit and retain employees.

What are the most common misconceptions regarding pet insurance?
Pet insurance is not a savings plan. You shouldn’t expect your premiums back. If you never have to file a claim, you’re a lucky pet parent!

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