An­i­mal in­surance is a big business in North Amer­ica

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

MARIA Makara did not hes­i­tate to in­sure her two new dogs. That is be­cause they are fam­ily.

Her pre­vi­ous pet, a York­shire ter­rier, died last year after con­tract­ing pan­cre­ati­tis and Cush­ing’s dis­ease. Makara ended up pay­ing $4 000 (R44 700) for treat­ments and tests in the dog’s fi­nal years.

Last month she bought health in­surance for her two “boys”. For $40 a month, she in­sures both Jack, a white Chi­huahua-poo­dle mix, or chi-poo, and Colby, a 2kg morkie-poo, a mix of Mal­tese, Yorkie, and poo­dle breeds.

“They’re my ba­bies,” Makara said from her of­fice in New York.

Makara is among so-called pet par­ents fu­elling a $600 mil­lion in­dus­try in North Amer­ica that is grow­ing at triple the pace of US ac­ci­dent-and-health cov­er­age, draw­ing in­vest­ment from com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Toronto-based Fair­fax Fi­nan­cial Hold­ings and Na­tion­wide Mu­tual In­surance.

Fair­fax, run by value in­vestor Prem Watsa, agreed this year to buy Pethealth, North Amer­ica’s sec­ond-largest pet in­surer, for C$100 mil­lion (R984m).

The Oakville, On­tario-based firm pro­vides pet phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, mi­crochips for an­i­mal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and in­surance that cov­ers ev­ery­thing from be­havioural ther­apy to a re­ward for the re­turn of a run­away pet.

“It’s a nascent in­dus­try and de­mo­graph­i­cally it has legs, es­pe­cially with the adop­tion of pets as fam­ily mem­bers,” Fair­fax pres­i­dent Paul Rivett said. – Bloomberg

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