A year after being acquired by MetLife, PetFirst Pet Insurance, based in metro Louisville, has experienced more than a 33 percent increase in staff – onboarding those people remotely during a pandemic.
At the beginning of this year, PetFirst had around 60 employees in its Jeffersonville office. The team has since added around 25 new employees. Those team members are helping answer questions from potential new policyholders and are helping process claims from policyholders nationwide. Group benefits for organizations within the MetLife family can now offer pet insurance. Vice president for pet insurance for MetLife Inc. Katie Blakley said the company anticipates doubling its policyholders between the summer of 2020 and the summer of 2021.
The status of pets within families has been on the rise for several years – a trend that has been accelerated during the pandemic. In April 2020, animal shelters around the country were reporting record high adoption rates – and many of them ran out of available pets.
“Pets, now more than ever, are becoming an integral part of the family unit,” said Blakeley.
While pets have been an undeniable source of comfort during the pandemic, the surge in adoptions means many families may also be experiencing unexpected pet bills.
A survey in August of this year by TD Ameritrade discovered that nearly half of pet owners found pet costs to be more than they anticipated (averaging $1,200 each year). Cat costs averaged $687 annually. Those costs include food, but the second-highest costs are veterinary care.
Just like advances in human healthcare come with increasing costs, so do veterinary advances. Treatments for injuries and diseases – things like animal chemotherapy and acupuncture – are available, but costly. Pets are increasingly treated like family – and the costs can mount. Pet insurance gives policyholders the peace of mind to make decisions that are best for the health of their beloved pet – rather than worrying about the high associated costs.