ST. LOUIS - You insure your house. You insure your car. So what about your pet? Nestle Purina PetCare Co. said Tuesday that it will begin offering PurinaCare, the first pet health insurance under pet-food maker Purina’s name.
The company said two plans will be available for dogs and cats, at a time when veterinary care can include costly CAT scans, MRIs or chemotherapy.
The insurance will be offered through PurinaCare Insurance Services, a San Antonio-based subsidiary of Nestle Purina PetCare, which has its North American headquarters in St. Louis.
“We truly believe we can make pet insurance mainstream,” said David Goodnight, president and chief operating officer of PurinaCare Insurance Services.
Americans spend about $9.8 billion a year on veterinary services and billions more on health supplies and over-the-counter drugs for pets, Nestle Purina said, citing outside research.
The company sees the potential for growth in pet insurance, saying only about 1 percent of pets in the U.S. are currently insured.
Veterinary Pet Insurance, the country’s largest pet insurer based in Brea, Calif., says it has about 465,000 pets enrolled.
Oakville, Ontario-based Pethealth is second-largest, with about 175,000 pet policies issued in the U.S. and Canada under names like PetCare and ShelterCare insurance.
Pethealth spokesman Glen Tennison said he believed the addition of Purina’s new pet insurance will help to raise awareness of the industry as a whole.
PurinaCare will offer two types of plans with four annual deductible levels, ranging from $100 to $1,000.
Both plans cover medical costs related to illness, injuries, accidents, surgery and prescription medication.
There is a 20 percent copay once the deductible has been met.
One of the plans focuses on preventive care by also covering costs like annual physicals and routine lab tests and preventive flea and heartworm medications.
Goodnight said the costs of a plan varies by age of the cat or dog, the region of the country, the breed of the pet and the deductible a pet owner chooses.