MetLife to Enter Pet Insurance Market with Acquisition of PetFirst Program

December 5, 2019

MetLife has agreed to acquire PetFirst Healthcare, a pet insurance program administrator that currently distributes its pet insurance products through animal welfare agencies, direct-to-consumer channels and employers.

MetLife says the acquisition will enable it to offer a new benefit that is growing in popularity. Since 2014, the annual growth rate for the pet insurance industry has been more than 20 percent, according to the insurer.

Indiana-based PetFirst underwrites and administers pet health insurance policies and claims on behalf of New Hampshire Insurance Co., The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (ISOP), and Independence American Insurance Co. in approved states. Founded in 2004, PetFirst currently administers insurance coverage on more than 40,000 pets.

Following the acquisition, PetFirst will continue to market pet insurance through animal welfare societies and its direct-to-consumer channel. Beginning in the summer of 2020, MetLife will offer this pet insurance to employers through its group benefits distribution channel, reaching approximately 41 million employees and dependents across the U.S.

“Pet insurance has become an increasingly important voluntary benefit, and this transaction allows us to capitalize on this rapidly growing market opportunity,” said Ramy Tadros, president of U.S. Business for MetLife. “Today’s employees have an increasing expectation of their employer to support their lives holistically, and offering pet insurance provides our customers’ employees additional support against unexpected out-of-pocket pet health expenses.”

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the pet insurance market is under-penetrated and fast-growing. Only two percent of the estimated 85 million families that own pets in the United States have pet insurance. The association’s research shows total pet insurance premium volume in North America reached $1.42 billion by the end of 2018, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).

Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

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