RELEASE: Gottheimer Calls on State to Reject Pet Insurance Companies Unreasonable Rate Hikes Affecting Jersey Families

Premiums up 30% to 56% in One Year. Asks Department of Treasury to Investigate Pet Insurance Fees Nationally. Today Begins Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week.

Sep 18, 2023
Press

Above: Gottheimer with his dog Rosie at Glen Rock Dog Park.

GLEN ROCK, NJ — Today, September 18, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), at the Glen Rock Dog Park, called on the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (NJDOBI) to reject applications for proposed and unreasonably high annual rate increases. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Gottheimer has also asked the Federal Insurance Office at the Department of Treasury to investigate pet insurance fees nationally that are making life more expensive for families. 

Gottheimer’s letter to NJDOBI can be found here.

The costs of veterinary services have risen about 10%, yet the rate increases requested and implemented by many pet insurance companies are far higher than that. As an insurance pool grows — which it has significantly during the pandemic — rates should decrease, especially with healthier, younger animals.

As of 2023, 66% of U.S. households, 87 million homes, own a pet. Nearly 50% of households in Jersey have pets. Since 2018, the number of insured pets in the U.S. has risen almost 23% a year.

Rising Cost of Pet Insurance:

  • Pet problems, which include health problems owners couldn’t handle, accounted for 47% of rehomed dogs and 42% of rehomed cats. 
  • Since 2018, average dog insurance premiums have increased nearly 40% and average cat insurance premiums have increased 36%, for the highest-coverage plans. 
  • Some pet insurance companies are planning to increase prices by more than 50% — that could be another $40 or $50 a month. 

Three pet insurance companies looking to hike prices in Jersey — Healthy Paws, MetGen, and Trupanion — far exceed the 10% increase in vet services. Trupanion requested to increase rates by 33%, Healthy Paws Pets by 44%, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company by 56%.

“I’m here with our family pup, Rosie — short for Rosalita, one of our favorite Springsteen songs — because our pets are part of our families and deserve to live happy and healthy lives without their owners having to break the bank. But, many families across New Jersey, including mine, recently received a letter that their pet insurance rates were set to increase as much as 56% this year alone. The bottom line is that veterinarian cost increases of 10% should not lead to insurance rate increases of 56%. That’s nuts. A rate hike this high could mean owners not being able to afford their animals and having to give them up,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Another rate hike this high could mean owners not being able to afford their animals and having to give them up. We need to make life more affordable for hard-working Jersey families who simply want to care for their beloved pets. And Democrat or Republican, we all love our pets!”

Gottheimer was joined by Glen Rock Councilmember Jill Orlich and local dog owners. 

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer at the Glen Rock Dog Park.

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Good morning. It’s great to be back here at the Glen Rock Dog Park to mark the start of Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week.

I’m here with our family pup, Rosie — short for Rosalita, one of our favorite Springsteen songs — because our pets are part of our families and deserve to live happy and healthy lives without their owners having to break the bank. 

There is no better feeling than getting home after a long day and being greeted by our furry family members. Republican or Democrat — everyone loves their pets and wants the best for them. 

As of 2023, 66 percent of U.S. households own a pet. That’s nearly 87 million homes. And nearly 50 percent of households in Jersey have pets — about 30 percent have dogs and about 20 percent have cats.  

Healthcare is one of the big expenses for pets. In fact, health issues and the cost of healthcare are one of the major reasons families end up returning their pets. Some families try to offset costs with pet insurance, which often covers major health issues, tests, and procedures. Pet insurance has helped save Jersey families hundreds and thousands of dollars and the lives of countless animals.

Unfortunately, if some of the providers get their way, and their premium requests get approved, it will soon become even more expensive to keep your pets healthy.  

Many families across New Jersey, including me, recently received a letter that our pet insurance rates were set to increase 44 percent this year alone. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It didn’t take long before I started getting calls and letters from other families facing a huge increase — over 50 percent in some cases just in one year. Millions of families use pet insurance to help cover the costs of veterinary bills. In fact, since 2018, the number of insured pets in the U.S. has risen almost 23 percent a year. So, that’s a lot of affected families.

I’m already incredibly concerned with keeping costs down across the board, and this is just another example of families getting whacked. 

This comes at a time when pet ownership has skyrocketed during the pandemic. More than 23 million American households — nearly 1 in 5 nationwide — adopted a pet during the pandemic, including less-adoptable-pets. And that’s a great thing because it gives so many animals in need a home. But with these new pet insurance rate increases, it could mean families will have to give up their family pets and the thought of where they may end up breaks my heart. As I mentioned before, pet problems, which includes health problems owners couldn’t handle, accounted for 47 percent of rehomed dogs and 42 percent of rehomed cats.

Not to mention the struggle this will cause for individuals who have service animals. Think about the guide and hearing dogs, diabetes alert dogs, and seizure response dogs. These animals are essential to their owners’ everyday lives, and it makes me sick that anyone would punish the pocketbooks of someone living with a disability. 

I want to be very clear. Insurance can be a great product if it’s the right one because it protects our families from catastrophic situations. In the last year, our dog Rosie was very sick, and our pet insurance saved us thousands of dollars at the vet.  

But the problem families are facing today is that these companies are not proposing just a couple more dollars a month or year for pet insurance. Some pet insurance companies have asked the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to increase prices by more than 50 percent — that could be another $40 or $50 dollars a month. Since 2018, average dog insurance premiums have already increased nearly 40 percent and average cat insurance premiums have increased 36 percent, for the highest-coverage plans. 

But it’s about to get far worse. Another rate hike this high could mean owners not being able to afford their animals and having to give them up. We know the sad reality is that some of these animals will face euthanasia.

What blows my mind is that in recent years, the costs of veterinary services have risen about 10 percent. Yet, the rate increases requested and implemented by many pet insurance companies are far higher than that. As an insurance pool grows — which it has significantly during the pandemic — rates should decrease, especially with healthier, younger animals.

I’m confused about why there are such drastic rate increases if there are so many more people with pet insurance policies. 

Of the requests to jack up premiums on pet owners, we were able to identify three of the highest ones. Three pet insurance companies looking to hike prices in Jersey — Healthy Paws, MetGen, and Trupanion — far exceed the 10 percent increase in vet services I mentioned earlier. Trupanion requested to increase rates by 33 percent, Healthy Paws Pets by 44 percent, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company’s 56 percent hike.

That’s why today we’re calling out pet insurance companies to reconsider their proposed rate hikes – and for New Jersey and the US Department of Treasury to step in and take action.

This morning, I sent a letter to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance urging Acting Commissioner Zimmerman to reject applications for the proposed unreasonably high annual rate increases. I’m hopeful he can work with the providers and find a more reasonable solution that helps keep costs down for Jersey families and protects our pets. 

As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I have also asked the Federal Insurance Office at the Department of Treasury to investigate pet insurance fees nationally that are making life more expensive for families. This isn’t just a Jersey issue. 

The bottom line is that veterinarian cost increases of 10 percent should not lead to rate increases of between 33 and 56 percent. There is a line between reasonable and unreasonable – and this crosses it.

We need to make life more affordable for hard-working Jersey families who simply want to care for their beloved pets. And we all love our pets!

If we work together — Democrats and Republicans — there’s nothing stopping Jersey or America, and our best days will always be ahead of us.

God bless you and your families, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

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