Pet owners are increasingly concerened about soaring medical bills for their pets which are seeing longer life expectancy due to advances in medical science. The owners are taking out private pet insurance to lessen the financial burden, reports Kyodo News Agency.
The pet insurance market, which covers animals such as cats and dogs, has seen annual growth of nearly 20% and was worth about JPY49 billion ($450 million) as of the end of March last year, according to a private survey.
The life expectancy of pets has risen partly because veterinary hospitals are taking care of a growing number of injured or sick pets. Faced with the prospect of shouldering huge medical bills, many pet owners have opted to take out insurance policies.
Medical costs have been soaring, with advanced technology such as computed tomography or CT scans and the spread of blood transfusions, blood tests and diagnoses based on magnetic resonance imaging scans. There are also cases in which treatment of broken bones costs more than JPY200,000.
The Japan Pet Food Association has estimated the population of domestic pet dogs at 8.92 million and pet cats at 9.52 million in 2017. While the number for felines has been unchanged in recent years, the figure for dogs has declined.
The ratio of those who bought pet insurance is believed to stand at around 7%, lagging behind the ratio in Britain and Sweden, two pet insurance market leaders. However, the potential market demand is high as many pet owners are considering taking out insurance policies.
Competition in this market is also growing fierce, with e-commerce giant Rakuten. purchasing a company offering low cost, short term pet insurance.
Anicom Insurance, the biggest pet insurer in Japan, offers insurance products covering up to 70% of medical costs for hospital visits and surgery. It has teamed up with more than 6,000 veterinary hospitals, where pet owners can settle insurance money over the counter. Meanwhile, ipet Insurance's mainstay product also covers up to 70% of vet bills.