Insurance companies are looking to tap into the steadily growing pet market in India by either reviving existing cover or designing new products to suit consumers.
According to data available on the India International Pet Trade Fair (IIPTF) website, the pet population in India has grown from 70 lakh in 2006 to one crore in 2011. On average, six lakh pets are adopted every year.
The Indian pet market is estimated at more than $800 million, and is expected to register strong double-digit retail value growth in the coming years.
Higher disposable incomes, smaller families, sensitivity to animals, and social-media craze are the key contributors to the rise in pet ownership, studies point out. This, coupled with an increase in awareness about pet health, is driving people to look for pet insurance cover.
A number of public sector insurance companies, including National Insurance Company (NIC) and United India Insurance Company, have pet insurance products, and offer cover against death due to accident or disease, and third-party liability.
However, these products have not been able to make a mark due to the lack of awareness and poor inclination among agents to sell these products, as well as the absence of a proper distribution model, said a senior official at one of the public sector insurance companies. Hence, the number of policies sold and premium collected is very small.
NIC sold close to 25 dog insurance policies, and collected a total premium of around ₹4.8 lakh in 2016-17 (collecting an average of ₹19,700 per policy). The state-owned insurer sold around 31 policies in 2017-18; however, the premium figures were not readily available.
“There is a strong potential for revival of pet insurance. If marketed well, it can be a good product,” KB Vijay Srinivas, former director, United India Insurance, told BusinessLine .
Online insurance marketplace Coverfox.com is in talks with a few insurance companies to come up with a pet insurance product aimed at online customers in the next six months.
According to Premanshu Singh, CEO, Coverfox.com, the plan is to customise some existing products offered by a public sector insurer to suit the needs of online customers.
“Currently, insurance companies cover death due to accident or disease. But owners are emotionally attached to their pets and look for health insurance plan. Once the supply is created, then the demand will automatically follow,” said Singh.
The medical cost involved in maintaining a pet is quite high, and is almost similar to what is spent on human healthcare. Hence, there is a need for pet insurance. However, just having a product may not solve the problem. It would call for proper distribution, said Sanjay Datta, Chief – Underwriting and Claims at ICICI Lombard General Insurance.
“You need pet insurance, but there has to be a good number of people who will pay the premium for the same, otherwise it is unsustainable. I do think it will evolve,” he said.
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