SOURCE: Pets Best Insurance

October 26, 2006 06:30 ET

Pets Best Insurance Founder Dr. Jack Stephens Promotes Efforts of All Pet Insurance Providers to Improve Pet Health and Protect More Pet Families

Boise, ID -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 26, 2006 -- Recent developments in pet health care and diagnostics have led to great advances in pet health and longevity -- good news for pets and their owners. Unfortunately, the high costs of the best pet health care may be daunting, even for those who consider their pets indispensable members of the family. Pet health insurance is a simple, affordable solution for those who love their pets but are concerned about the financial hardship of high-quality pet care. Misconceptions and a general lack of awareness, however, prevent many families from taking advantage of pet insurance, according to Dr. Jack Stephens, president and founder of Pets Best Insurance.

WE LOVE OUR PETS!

In the United States alone:

--  63% of households have pets, and 37% of pet owners consider their pets
    important family members.
--  Over 70 million U.S. households own dogs or cats, and 45% of U.S.
    households own more than one pet.
    
As a consequence:
--  Consumer spending on pets has more than doubled from $17 billion in
    1994 to an estimated $38.4 billion in 2006, according to the American
    Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA).
--  The APPMA projects that in 2006 alone, pet owners will spend:
    --  $15.2 billion on food;
    --  $9.3 billion on supplies and over-the-counter-medications;
    --  $9.4 billion on veterinary care;
    --  $1.8 billion for animal purchases;
    --  and $2.7 billion for other services.
THE GOOD NEWS FOR YOUR PET

Pets today can receive medical care, prescription drugs, and diagnostics that were unheard of just a few years ago. Veterinarians now have access to increasingly sophisticated and costly diagnostic instruments such as MRIs and ultrasound, tools once reserved for humans and available only at universities. Such screenings often detect problems that would have formerly gone undiagnosed and incorrectly treated. Because of the availability of these new treatment technologies, pets today are living longer, healthier lives.

THE BAD NEWS FOR YOUR POCKETBOOK

While such screenings and treatments are a boon for pets, they are also very expensive, dramatically boosting the cost of treatment and creating health care inflation in the pet world. Once-fatal conditions for pets are now treatable -- but often at costs ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 or higher. Veterinary costs have risen due to pet owner demands for sophisticated pet care, according to a 1999 study by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The study shows a dramatic increase in veterinary care costs in the 8-year period from 1991 to 1999 -- up 84.6% for cat owners and 41.7% for dog owners.

As the bond with pets continues to grow, the cost of medical care and maintenance for pets continues to rise. Pet insurance -- like any other insurance -- should be viewed as a valuable and necessary service providing peace of mind and financial protection, says Stephens, who is widely known as the first father of pet insurance in the United States. Yet only a small percentage of pet-owning families take advantage of this valuable opportunity.

NO COMPARISON

Comparisons between human health care insurance and pet insurance are misleading, creating misconceptions of expense that are simply unfounded, Stephens says. In fact, pet insurance is far more affordable than human health insurance, while providing many comparable benefits to pets.

"Pet insurance clearly provides the financial means for pet owners to budget affordable monthly premiums, assuring that they can always afford any care their pet requires," Stephens said. "Pet insurance can provide coverage for any contingency -- from medical problems with a minor cost of a few hundred dollars, to the expensive treatment for emergencies, illnesses, accidents, diseases, or chronic care that can cost thousands of dollars."

In the interest of pets and their owners, Pets Best Insurance is beginning a communications campaign to demonstrate the benefits and value of pet insurance in general. Stephens, founder and operator of two successful pet insurance companies, brings to the effort a wealth of knowledge and expertise garnered from over 24 years of personal experience in the field. "The market size and need are just too great to focus only on Pets Best Insurance," he said. "The veterinary profession and public should be made aware of the many advantages of insuring a pet's care just like any other family member."

The following table provides a general comparison of pet insurance versus human health insurance:

                          PET INSURANCE           HUMAN INSURANCE
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
COST                      $30/ Monthly Premium    $300-$2,000 Per
                          Average                 Month -
                          (Range = $10-50/month)  Highly Variable
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
COMPANIES                 Currently Nine          Hundreds of
                          Companies               Companies
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
COVERAGE                  Health & Accident       Health & Accident
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
REIMBUSEMENT              Insured Directly        Doctor & Hospital
                          Reimbursed              Reimbursed - Usually
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
WHO PAYS                  Pet Owner               Individual or Employer
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
UNINSURED ASSITANCE       Virtually None          Broad -  Medicare,
                                                  Public Assistance,
                                                  Emergency Care Required
                                                  by Law
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
TAX DEDUCTIBILITY         None                    Employment Benefit
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
REGULATION                State                   State/Federal - Many
                                                  Compliance Issues
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
COMPLAINTS                Provider Company and    Provider Company and
                          State Department of     legal recourse. (Unlike
                          Insurance               pet insurance which
                                                  almost always State
                                                  DOI, after company.
                                                  This increases cost
                                                  greatly for human
                                                  health.)
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
STRUCTURE                 Liability               Indemnity/HMO/PPO
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
DEDUCTIBLES               Generally Low           Higher Deductibles with
                          Deductibles             Many Choices
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
LIMITS                    $2,000-7,000 Limit      Much Higher
                          Range                   ($100,000-1 million)
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
CHOICE OF DOCTOR          Always                  Restrictive or None
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
INCEPTION                 1982                    1929, growth in 1950s
                          ----------------------- -----------------------
According to Stephens, “Pet insurance is much simpler and more affordable than human health insurance. It provides a reasonable option to protect your pocketbook, your peace of mind, and the health of your pet. As health care costs for pets increase, it just makes sense to consider budgeting for unexpected accidents and illnesses.”

Pets Best Insurance reimburses pet owners for services from the veterinarian they choose, truly establishing it as "Pet insurance that really pays!" Pets Best Insurance was founded by Dr. Jack Stephens, pioneer of the pet insurance industry, and accomplished veterinarian, avid pet enthusiast and seasoned insurance executive with more than 24 years’ experience.

The product brand includes a choice of four affordable coverage plans with a straightforward 80:20 claims reimbursement structure and NO benefit schedules. The Pets Best Insurance team is a highly skilled and professional group of pet lovers who have developed products based on innovation and insight into veterinary care. Visit Pets Best Insurance at www.petsbest.com or phone 877-PetsBest (738-7237).

Dr. Jack Stephens is available for general interviews about the important values and needs of pet insurance for families in the United Sates. Please contact Loran Hickton to arrange an interview and to obtain additional background information and images. You can reach Loran at 360-571-5560.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Loran Hickton
    Phone: 360-571-5560