TRENTON, N.J. – Craving companionship during coronavirus shutdown orders, people started adopting pets in record numbers. Unfortunately, most consumers aren’t considering the costs associated with the long-term commitment of caring for their new four-legged friends.
To help them make better informed choices, Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a measure to increase awareness of available pet insurance that can cover everything from annual checkups to emergency care. The bill (A5397) requires pet shops to display a notice that directs consumers to a list of pet health insurers on the state Department of Banking and Insurance website.
“The pandemic spurred unprecedented pet adoption numbers as people stayed home, stopped travelling, started working remotely and felt the weight of social isolation. While it is wonderful that so many dogs, cats and other animals found loving homes, the cost of care over the lifetime of a pet can really add up,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “An unexpected illness or accident can set pet owners back thousands of dollars. It’s important that we educate consumers on insurance options that can help pay for costly veterinarian bills.”
Nearly 70% of American households own a pet according to a national survey; however, only 3% use pet insurance. In 2020, owners spent $103.6 billion on their pets. The ASPCA estimates a large breed of dog can cost someone up to $2,000 a year in food, medical care, grooming and other expenses. A recent survey of 1,000 pet owners found that 45% of them reported spending as much or more on pet health care than they do on their own.
“Pet insurance can really make a difference if an animal needs medication or life-saving surgery, but many people don’t think about those surprise expenses when they pick out a puppy or kitten at a pet shop,” said Dancer. “This bill will reach consumers at the point of sale so they can make better informed financial decisions that would protect their pets and their wallets.”
The average monthly cost of pet insurance is about $48 for dogs and $29 for cats for plans that cover both accidents and illnesses.
Dancer’s bill is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.