To most of the nation’s 70 million pet owners, pets are family too. And when pets get sick or injured, many owners are willing to spend almost whatever it takes to get them back on all four feet. But the price of increasingly sophisticated veterinary care does not come cheap. According to the American Pet Products Association, vet bills last year in the U.S. topped $11 billion.
According to industry research firm IBISWorld, pet-related businesses are recession proof. The Los Angeles-based firm projects pet-related businesses will generate $51.6 billion for 2009 – that’s up 1.3 percent from 2008.
“Pet healthcare is a big business, as awareness in health is driving growth in this area” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld. Veterinary practices are now expanding their range of services in order to cater to the health-related needs of animals. Chiropractics, ophthalmology, dentistry, and dermatology, to name a few, are becoming more readily available.
To control costs, more pet owners than ever are signing up for pet health-insurance plans. Pet insurance industry experts say the offering has become so popular they expect pet premiums to top $328 million by year’s end.
Kroger Personal Finance, a Kroger joint venture that brings together a wide array of quality financial products and services from preferred providers for Kroger customers, is making pet health insurance information available in the check lanes of more than 2,400 supermarkets operated by Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional grocery store operator.
“Kroger shoppers include pet owners and non-pet owners alike,” Kathy Kelly, president of Kroger Personal Finance said. “With 62 percent of U.S. households owning a pet – and 70 percent of those with multiple pets, affordable pet insurance can help pet owners manage their expenses. It can cover everything from routine costs associated with veterinary expenses like annual check-ups and vaccinations all the way to surgeries, x-rays and hospitalization.”
The newest product offered by KPF is its lowest priced — an “accident only” policy for $9.95 per month per pet.
Today, pet health insurance can cover accidents and illnesses, as well as routine care for dogs and/or cats. Depending on the coverage level and the number of pets insured, prices can range from $9.95 to $79.00 per month. The range of service covered by the premiums, as Kelly describes it, is nearly as broad as procedures covered by human insurance.
To pet owners, the appeal of insurance comes down to peace of mind, and hopefully not having to explore the limits of unconditional love.
“By paying monthly premiums there is no need to worry about suddenly struggling to come up with unbudgeted veterinary expenses down the road,” Kelly added. “It allows pets to receive expert care and helps their human families manage costs, now for less than 40 cents a day.”