History Of Pet Insurance


There are approximately 172 million companion dogs and cats currently owned in the United States. The numbers of household pets in this country and around the world grow each year and as these numbers grow time and money spent on pet health, love and caring grow too. As families continue to bring pets home and these companion animals grow to be members of the family, the desire to protect and provide for them increases.

With the advancements in veterinary technology, medications and health care for animals more and more individuals are utilizing pet health insurance policies, much like their own health care insurance, to protect pets in case of emergency, illness, accident, or disease.

Pet insurance is on the rise in the United States and around the world as individuals place more importance on the protection of their pets. The first sign of health insurance for animals dates back to 1890, created by Claes Virgin to protect the health of his livestock. Nearly 35 years later in 1924, the first pet insurance policy was written for a dog in Sweden. Since this time pet insurance has spread throughout the world and advanced in coverage, affordability, and public recognition.

Pet Insurance Timeline


1890
Claes Virgin creates the first known health insurance policy for animals to protect the health of his livestock.


1924
The first pet insurance policy is written for a dog in Sweden.


1947
The first pet insurance policy is sold in Great Britain, starting a wave of pet insurance purchases throughout Europe. To this day Britain is one of the most protected countries in the world in terms of pet health insurance with over 23% of pets having an insurance policy, second only to Sweden.


1982
The first pet insurance policy is sold in the United States to protect television’s Collie dog Lassie.


1997
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) partners with The Hartville Group, Inc. to provide pet health insurance and begin writing policies.


2001-2005
Veterinary costs begin to rise more rapidly in the United States and pet owners begin to realize the benefits of pet insurance. Pet insurance policy purchases begin to steadily rise.


2007
Kroger Personal Finance teams up with PetFirst Healthcare to offer comprehensive pet health plans for both dogs and cats ranging from accident coverage to senior care for older pets.


2009-2010
More pet parents are purchasing pet insurance plans than ever as they realize how it can help pay veterinary bills, cover emergency medical costs and offer piece of mind when the unexpected happens. Is your pet protected? Review plans starting at less than $10 a month and pet insurance coverage options to find the best protection for your pet today.

Since the early 1990s demand and spending on veterinary services in the United States has increased exponentially. Each year, pet owners spend billions of dollars on veterinary medicine, procedures, medical examinations, and laboratory testing. As demand for veterinary services and overall spending on pet health increases, the demand and need for affordable pet insurance policies increase as well.

Consumer Spending on Veterinary Services (in billions of dollars)

Pet Insurance Snapshot

  • In the U.S. alone, over 10.0 billion dollars were spent on pet medications in 2007. – NPR, Morning Edition.
  • Total worldwide sales of animal medicines was $19.2 billion in 2008, up 7.2 percent over sales the previous year – British research firm Vetnosis Ltd.

U.S. Market

  • According to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 71.1 millions homes
  • As of 2006, 77% of dog owners and 52% of cat owners gave their pets medications or drugs, up from 50% and 32% in 2000, respectively
  • Estimated 2008 Sales within the U.S. Market. For 2008, it estimated that $43.4 billion will be spent on our pets in the U.S. (see breakdown below):Food$16.9 billionVet Care$10.9 billionSupplies/OTC Medicine$10.3 billionLive animal purchases$2.1 billionPet Services: grooming & boarding$3.2 billion
  • Actual Sales within the U.S. Market in 2007. In 2007, $41.2 billion was spent on our pets in the U.S. (see breakdown below):Food$16.2 billionVet Care$10.1 billionSupplies/OTC Medicine$9.8 billionLive animal purchases$2.1 billionPet Services: grooming & boarding$3.0 billion

Unless otherwise stated, spending statistics are gathered by APPMA from various market research sources and are not included in the organization’s bi-annual National Pet Owners Survey.

Is your dog one of the estimated 77.5 million companion dogs in the United States or do you own one of the approximately 94 million pet cats? The growth in animal companionship throughout the world has directly correlated with an increase in veterinary care costs — as medical care for pets gets more expensive pet insurance can help pay veterinary bills and offer the assurance that you will never have to choose between your pet’s well-being and your personal finances. Historically pet insurance has grown by 20% in each five-year period of time since the early 20th century and these numbers are expected to increase even further by 2021. Shouldn’t your pet be protected?

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