About 70% of U.S. households have a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, and writing pet insurance can be a great foot in the doggy door to other lines of business.
Once upon a time, American households got a family pet to teach their children responsibility. Had social media existed 50 years ago, our feeds would not have been saturated with pictures of dogs and cats—much less dressed in tracksuits going on adventures. But today, you'll often hear pets called “fur babies," signaling a dramatic shift in the role they play in our lives. In fact, many articles have been written about millennials choosing to have pets in lieu of children.
This trend ripples across industries. Silicon Valley is developing IoT solutions for pet owners and it's increasingly common to hear of people employing pet walkers during the workweek. More and more Americans buy premium pet foods and they spend billions of dollars annually taking care of their pets.
Another emerging trend is the rise of pet insurance.
Many agents dismiss pet insurance because of the lower overall premium compared to a home or auto policy. But pet owners have residences and vehicles too and if you aren't talking to your customers about pet insurance, chances are another agent will. Per the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average annual growth rate of U.S. pet insurance has averaged 24.2% over the last five years, and it grew 27.5% from 2019 to 2020 alone.
If you're interested in offering this value-added protection to your customers, here are five questions to ask that will start the conversation:
1) Do you have any pets? This one is a little obvious, but it's a question you'll ask while quoting home, renters or condo insurance. According to the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, about 70% of U.S. households have a pet. If they just have a goldfish, you can skip the rest of the questions.
2) Tell me about your pet. If your customer has a dog who lives in a doghouse in the backyard, he is probably not a prospect for pet insurance. However, if your customer's pet has a first, middle and last name, has an extensive wardrobe, eats organic and non-GMO food or has its own social media page, you've found a great prospect.
You could end the conversation right here and tack on a pet insurance quote with your package proposal. As a risk advisor, it is your role to help your customers understand and transfer risk to an insurance company. But if you want to be more certain before offering a quote, ask the following questions:
3) If your pet was seriously ill or needed surgery, how would you handle it? This isn't an accusatory question; it's an emotional one. For some, it would be a crippling decision between spending the money to save a beloved family member or having to say goodbye to their pet. Others would happily pull out their checkbooks and pay the bill. Either way, you'll get insight into how to position pet insurance.
4) Have you ever considered pet insurance? Unlike health insurance, it's a lot more affordable than you'd think. In the sales process, yes or no questions aren't usually valuable. In this case, if they say yes, you know you've got a quote to run. If they say no, follow it up with:
5) Would it be worth finding out how much it would cost to protect Fido? This is a non-threatening question, and a lot of people will be curious enough to find out how much it would cost. Pet insurance is flexible, and you can tailor a policy that will fit their budget.
Pet insurance is also a great lead-line. Most personal lines agencies are knocking on the front door prospecting home and auto policies, but only a few agents come in through the dog door—metaphorically speaking, of course.
Visit your local veterinary clinics and pet rescues and talk to them about the pet insurance coverage you can offer; they can be powerful referral sources! And, if you write someone's pet insurance, you'll get a shot at their other lines of business, too.
Safeco Insurance™ launched a new pet insurance product that is available in 44 states as of May 21, 2022. Flexible protection can cover accidents and illnesses, as well as routine wellness care and covers visits to any vet in the U.S. or Canada, including specialists and emergency facilities. Quoting is a snap through Quote and Issue™, and agents can support, service and view their customer's policies on a robust agent portal or by calling a dedicated helpline.
Products are underwritten by Safeco Insurance Company of America and/or its affiliates, with their principal place of business at 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116 and administered by Companion Protect Agency.