Pas Trusted News – If veterinary costs are up 10% why are pet insurance companies asking for much bigger price hikes?

More pet insurance companies this year are seeking double-digit premium increases that substantially exceed the rising cost of veterinary services. The cost of veterinary care has gone up nationally by about 10% in the past year, according to federal government data. But pet insurer Trupanion has asked the state N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) to approve a 33% increase, while Healthy Paws Pets has requested a 44% jump. Metropolitan General Insurance Company, commonly called MetGen, is asking for a whopping 56% increase. MetGen’s request has been pending since June. MetGen and Healthy Paws Pets didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, but Trupanion said its goal is “to price every pet’s coverage fairly, and that what we charge is always transparent and equitable.” “As we work to maintain Trupanion’s comprehensive and high-value coverage, we remain committed to operating within New Jersey’s regulations,” a spokeswoman said, noting that no pet owner will have more than a 25% rate increase. She did not explain why, then, the filing was for a 33% hike. MetGen’s letter to consumers earlier this year said its average policy would see a rate hike of 32%. “The impact of the filing on your rates may vary substantially, depending on the terms of your policy and your individual circumstances,” it said. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.) is asking the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) to deny the requests, and he’s also asking the U.S. Treasury Department’s federal insurance office to investigate pet insurance fees nationwide. In a Monday letter to DOBI acting commissioner Justin Zimmerman, Gottheimer said the sticker shock of the proposed increases will force many families to drop their policies and put the health and welfare of pets at risk. The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A complete list of insurers asking for hikes was not immediately available. Gottheimer argued that as more people have purchased pet insurance, broadening the risk pool of covered animals, premiums should come down, not go up. “Veterinary cost increases of 10% should not lead to rate increases of between 33% and 56% in just one year,” he said at a Monday press conference at the Glen Rock dog park while holding his family dog Rosie, short for Rosalita. “There is a line between reasonable and unreasonable, and these rate increases in one year cross that line.” The average annual cost of a pet insurance policy that covers both accidents and illness for dogs was $640.04 in 2022, up from an average of $599.03 the year before, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. The average premium for the same kind of policy for cats was $387.01, up from $341.35 in 2021, it said. Plans that cover preventative care such as vaccines and other routine care, typically called “wellness plans,” have seen the highest rate increases in recent years, data shows. Annual premiums for cat wellness plans were $613.67 in 2022, up 35.9% since 2018. Wellness plans for dogs rose 39.7% during that time, up to $1,134.29 in 2022. Can’t see the chart? Click here. The group said nearly five million pets nationwide are covered by policies, a 22% increase over the year before. New Jersey had the fifth largest number of policies purchased by pet lovers in 2022, it said, with 4.6% of pets covered by insurance. The state was the home to the cat with the largest single claim that year, for a Sphynx, whose care cost $40,057, the group said.

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