Drugmaker Zoetis entered the pet health insurance market this spring in about half the U.S.
By mid-May, Zoetis’ Pumpkin Insurance Services sold dog and cat care policies in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The company is an insurance agency, rather than an insurer. United States Fire Insurance Co. underwrites the policies.
An April 30 announcement also describes Pumpkin’s preventive care plans, which cover routine visits and prescriptions for certain Zoetis pharmaceuticals.
“All Pumpkin Plans provide reimbursement for covered care administered by any licensed veterinary clinic in the U.S. and Canada,” the announcement states. “Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductibles, co-insurance, benefits limits and other exclusions may apply.”
The announcement cites a North American Pet Health Insurance Association report in stating about 2% of pet owners have health insurance for their cats or dogs.
In August 2019, the AVMA House of Delegates amended Association policy to encourage veterinarians to educate clients on pet health insurance. In that policy, “Pet Health Insurance,” the AVMA endorses the concept of pet health insurance and lists standards that each policy should meet.
The plans described at launch in May raised concerns among veterinarians, and the company pledged changes.
In May, a Zoetis spokeswoman provided a statement that Pumpkin planned to suspend flea, tick, and heartworm components of the preventive care plan; create an advisory board of veterinary practitioners; and redesign that plan with the advisory board’s help. The statement cited concerns raised in recent weeks about the plan and a need to have more veterinary input.
In a statement, the AVMA said Association members had expressed concerns that the structure of Pumpkin’s preventive care coverage could have prevented veterinarians from choosing the right products for each patient, and the AVMA told Zoetis about those concerns. AVMA President John Howe said in the statement he was happy that Zoetis established an advisory board of veterinarians to ensure Pumpkin’s products best serve patients, clients, and veterinary teams.