, ,

A Profile of Pet Owners: What Every Pet Insurer Should Know

‘Pet owners are a unique breed. They’re nurturers. They’re passionate.’ BARE shares an article by Susan Doktor, Noel Dávila and Paul Reynolds for Money.com on pet insurance shopping experiences.

Because pet owners love their furry family members so deeply, sometimes they’re as persnickety as a Pomeranian who’s been hand-fed table people food since puppyhood.

New Data Paints a Detailed Picture of Pet Owners

How passionate and devoted to their pets are pet owners? A recent poll conducted by Money.com revealed that pet owners—who, incidentally, have rapidly increased in number since the COVID-19 crisis emerged—are more in love with their “babies” than ever before. Nearly 60% of respondents grew to love their pets more during the worst of the pandemic and 50% report they show their pets more affection. That’s not unexpected, given how sharply human interaction was curtailed due to the coronavirus and how much more time people spent alone at home with only their cats, dogs, fish, and ferrets to keep them company.

And pet owners are more than willing to prove their love with money. Our attachment to our pets is so deep that, according to Money.com’s poll, 67% of them would spend any amount of money to save their pets’ lives. An even larger number (82%) said they’d spend any amount they could afford to keep that bond alive. That’s a remarkable statistic. Many people wouldn’t go so all-out for their human friends.

If you’re a pet insurer, you may not be surprised by these statistics. The pet insurance industry has seen annual double-digit growth in recent years, after all. But you might be surprised that consumer awareness, adoption, and understanding of pet insurance doesn’t necessarily track with those numbers. Only about 20% of respondents to Money.com’s poll have purchased pet insurance, although 75% take their pets to the veterinarian at least annually. Somehow, pet owners aren’t getting the message that pet insurance can pay off in dollars, as well as in peace of mind. And among those pet owners who are familiar with pet insurance, misconceptions abound.

Positioning Your Pet Insurance Company for Success

There are at least 20 major players in the pet insurance arena and the competition is likely to get stiffer as insuretech companies who already offer life, auto, and homeowners’ insurance join their ranks. Technology is a great equalizer in insurance: it’s getting as easy to sell multiple kinds of insurance as it is to offer one. That’s why connecting both rationally and emotionally with pet owners and establishing a unique brand position is crucial. BARE International can help you uncover the emotional triggers that motivate pet insurance purchases and the knowledge gaps that may discourage purchase or cause pet owners to be disappointed with their policies. We can also help you understand those processes to create a more fulfilling brand experience for pet owners who are shopping for a policy.

What Are Pet Owners Looking For?

In some respects, they’re looking for the same things in a pet insurer and a pet insurance shopping experience as they’re seeking from a fashion retailer or bank nowadays. They want a simple, convenient, digital experience. They want choices: pet insurance, like many other financial products, are not one-size-fits-all. They want clear product information and transparent pricing.

But they also want to believe that pet insurers have their beloved companions’ best interest at heart. Pet owners trust their veterinarians and want to be able to use their insurance when they bring their pets to the doc they’ve been using for years—and have the option to switch when they move or become disenchanted with a veterinary provider.

Ideally, pet owners want a pet insurance experience that meets or exceeds the one provided by their human health plans. We predict that pet insurance companies that mimic the best of parts of human healthcare policies while sidestepping consumers’ frustration with health insurance, will emerge as the strongest competitors.

Top Tips For Pet Insurers

  • Filing pet insurance claims should be one-click easy. Or even better, completely painless because vets can file claims on pet owners’ behalf.
  • At the very least, pet insurance companies should reimburse veterinarians directly, just like human doctors are paid directly by insurers.
  • Speak plainly to pet owners. Make sure you provide a sample policy, written in as close-to-layman’s terms as possible for pet owners to review so they can feel confident purchasing from you. Define terms like pre-existing conditions and be clear about any policy exclusions. Customers who are surprised by claim allowances aren’t likely to be pleased with the service you provide.
  • Not every symptom requires a vet visit. Sometimes a phone call will do. Pet insurance companies that offer online access to veterinary opinions—preferably 24/7—can prevent unnecessary or emergency vet visits, keep pet owners’ veterinary costs low, and position themselves as customer allies. They’re also likely to see fewer claims filed, which can offset the operational costs of providing virtual vet assistance.
  • Pet owners are fascinated, but frequently puzzled by their pets. Pet insurers who satisfy pet owners’ natural curiosity by publishing blogs on their websites, sending periodic newsletters, and otherwise offer educational resources will score with pet owners who are trying to bring their babies up right.

See Your Brand Through Your Customers’ Eyes

We all have blind spots. That’s why a professional brand evaluation by BARE International is warranted periodically. How easy is your website to navigate? Can pet owners compare plans quickly and conveniently? Is your online quote process fast and accurate? Does your 24-hour care staff project empathy and patience? It’s tough for you, as an insider, to know for sure. BARE International’s research brings the objectivity that’s sometimes missing from your leadership team to your product development and marketing processes. Contact us today to discuss how a customized, comprehensive brand audit can help you solidify a brand that’s worthy of a precious commodity: a pet owner’s trust.

Read the original article in full here.

For more information on how we can help you set up a mystery shopping program, send us a note here. We, at BARE, believe in the ‘why’ behind the reasons, and we will provide actionable insights to help you provide the best experience for your customers.