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This month, the Association of British Insurers has released its latest data on pet insurance claims in the UK. During 2020, pet insurers handled a total of 978,000 claims worth £799 million, or the equivalent of £2.2 million a day. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this indicates how pet care organisations in the UK have continued to serve the needs of Britain’s 34 million pets and their owners.
Cat popularity on the rise
The surge of people taking on a puppy for companionship last year has been widely discussed, with owners carefully considering the benefits of lifelong insurance to plan for veterinary costs, medication and even theft. But it also appears that the pandemic may have instigated an increase in cat owners opting to take out pet insurance. The ABI reports that a total of 1.06 million owners chose to insure their cats in 2020, with the value of claims handled at a record high, up 10 percent on 2019.
The reasons for this rise are uncertain. What is evident is that cat and dog owners can be landed with costly veterinary bills, amounting to thousands, along with increasing risks of theft. The Daily Mail reports that cat theft increased by 12.3 percent last year as demand for cats drove prices up. The UK government recently announced that it will become law for the country’s 10.9 million cats to be microchipped as a security measure, along with a cash ban on purchases to dissuade black market activity.
Integration between insurer and vet
Interestingly the ABI observes how insurers put in extra support measures during the pandemic; for example, working more closely with veterinary practices to ensure pets continued to get the best treatment. There is no reason for this trend to stop. Digital technology can promote closer collaboration in the long-term by automating data sharing and communications between owner, insurer and vet.
Imagine a vet advises someone that their pet needs an immediate operation costing £800. The vet inputs all the details of the treatment required, sends this to the insurer that analyses the age of the pet, the treatment required, the time needed to perform the operation, the average cost of such treatment both from this vet and others in the region and nationally. Analysing this data, the insurer’s platform recognises this is a legitimate claim, within the parameters set and responds with an approval code for the vet in near real time. The policyholder is asked to pay the excess and receives a text message telling them the claim is paid and how much cover is left on the policy.
In summary, it is feasible for a standard claim to be settled within minutes without the hassle of phone calls or paperwork, meaning that a pet receives more timely medical treatment and a vastly improved customer experience is provided to an owner. With burgeoning opportunity in pet insurance, and the average claim value across all pet policies now £817, it is well worth insurers looking at the long-term benefits that digital technology can offer.