Why pet insurance – and why now?
“Marsh has never been involved in the pet insurance market before,” says Manny Rivera, creator, and marketing manager of the TrustedPals pet insurance program, “But we’ve watched it grow, especially over the past few years, and we’re now excited to enter it with our TrustedPals program.”
Premium volume has grown in the U.S. by more than 20% each year over the past three years, while 60 million households own a dog, and 47 million own a cat, But overall, less than 1% of pet owners have insurance for their furry friends.
Addressing the relatively low enrollment is difficult because pet insurance is not a product that is sold – it is bought. And that’s where Rivera sees a gap in the market, an opportunity to meet the needs of people who don’t view a cat or dog as “just” a pet, but as a family member. With that in mind, creating a program that would follow the pack was simply not an option.
“We saw an opportunity to develop the best pet insurance product on the market, a plan that didn’t sacrifice quality or benefits at any cost,” Rivera says. “Some insurers force customers to choose certain deductibles, co-pays, or limits. We don’t do that. We’ve created options for every budget so that no pet is left behind.”
In addition to a very different approach to pricing, we also wanted to lay the groundwork for a new way of thinking about pet insurance as a whole.
We are not pet owners, we are pet parents.
Rivera notes that nothing in the marketplace “seemed to meet the needs of today’s buyers, people we think of as pet parents, rather than just pet owners.”
As pets become more human, he believes it’s time to introduce a more humane approach to pet insurance. If things go wrong, pet parents need to know that their furry family members will get the care they need, just as they would for their children with their health insurance.
“We don’t want anyone to be put in a situation where they have to make a difficult – if not impossible – decision about their pet’s health,” Rivera says. And he knows these concerns all too well having experienced them personally.
It’s worth knowing that our pets make a full recovery, but insurance plays a crucial role in their return to normalcy and long-term care.
But what is the best way to get pet parents on board?
Reaching the Market
Affinity partnerships will be a key part of TrustedPals’ distribution model, and the program will soon launch as a voluntary workplace benefit. “I can’t stress how important our partners are in these areas,” Rivera comments.
But D2C channels will also be a major route to market, in some ways a departure from traditional brokerage and affinity models. Rivera has created a best-in-class digital experience, supported by Marsh’s Bluestream platform, to allow pet parents to quote and purchase new plans without direct assistance, in just two minutes.
Regardless of the channel, they sign up through, they will have access to our exclusive portal. Here pet parents can manage their pets’ plans and make claims in moments. Many new features are in development, such as Ella, our artificial intelligence pet advisor. And interactive tools to help them find and rate vets, groomers, etc. in their neighborhood.
In addition, Rivera has a global vision for TrustedPals. That means that before long, pets won’t be the only ones having fun in the United States.
“Our Bluestream platform means that, unlike our competitors, we don’t have to start from scratch or redo the work as we develop the program,” he explains. Being able to quickly roll out the experience to other territories is a key advantage in a fast-moving market.
How will we know we’ve succeeded?
Speaking strictly from a business perspective, our success is tied to sales, revenue, and growth.
But in the case of TrustedPals, Rivera believes there are more important things at stake – people’s pets. If we can help them have the best life possible, he says, we’re doing things right.
“We are a partner with a purpose,” he continues. “We donate 1 percent of all program profits to help pets find new humans after natural disasters. If we can do that, it’s as much a testament to our success as the bottom line.”
How many pets have we helped that couldn’t help themselves? How many animals have benefited from our donations after their lives were turned upside down? And how many family lives have we brought back to normal after an animal has had an accident or become ill?
When we can start answering these questions, we’ll have a real sense of TrustedPals’ success.