Facts + Statistics: Pet Ownership and Insurance

 
Pet insurance

The pet insurance industry got its start almost a century ago in Sweden where about half that country’s pets are now insured. In North America, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Nationwide, sold its first pet insurance policy in 1982 to cover the dog playing Lassie on television.

The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) reported that the pet health insurance sector for the United States posted gross written premiums of $1.99 billion in 2020, up 27.5 percent from $1.56 billion in 2019. The market has been rising at an average annual growth rate of almost 24.2 percent from 2016 to 2020. The total number of pets insured reached 3.1 million at year-end 2020.

Dogs represented 83 percent of in-force gross written premium in 2020. In 2020 average annual premiums reported by NAPHIA for dog insurance were $218 for accident-only coverage, which includes care for foreign body ingestion, lacerations, motor vehicle accidents, poisoning and other injuries. Average annual premiums for accident and illness were $594, which covers accident-only benefits, plus illnesses such as cancer, infections, digestive problems and other illnesses. For cats, annual premiums for accident and illness coverage are about 40 percent less.

There are 20 NAPHIA member pet insurance companies in North America. The three main types of coverage are accident and illness, accident only and wellness. Forbes Advisor, Money and U.S. News analyzed pet insurance companies and listed their top picks in 2022.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in three (30 percent) of Americans adopted a pet, according to the Insurance Research Council’s October 2020 report, Consumer Responses to the Pandemic and Implications for Insurance. Many pet owners decided to forgo pet insurance, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance. The company’s survey found that almost three-quarters of animal owners do not have pet insurance.

 
Pet ownership in the United States

Seventy percent of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, own a pet, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). This is up from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted, and 67 percent in 2019.

 
Number of U.S. Households That Own a Pet, by Type of Animal

(millions)

Pet Number
Dog 69.0
Cat 45.3
Freshwater fish 11.8
Bird 9.9
Small animal 6.2
Reptile 5.7
Horse 3.5
Saltwater fish 2.9

Source: American Pet Products Association's 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey.

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Total pet industry expenditures in the United States totaled $103 billion, up 6.7 percent from $97.1 billion in 2019. APPA estimates that expenditures in 2021 will reach $109.6 billion.

 
Total U.S. Pet Industry Expenditures, 2010-2020 (1)

($ billions)

Year Expenditure (2)
2010 $48.4
2011 51.0
2012 53.3
2013 55.7
2014 58.0
2015 60.3
2016 66.8
2017 69.5
2018 90.5
2019 97.1
2020 103.6

(1) Includes food, supplies and over-the-counter medicine, veterinary care, live animal purchases and grooming and boarding.
(2) Expenditures for 2018 to 2020 are from the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association's 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey; expenditures for 2010 to 2017 are from earlier surveys.

Source: American Pet Products Association's National Pet Owners Surveys.

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Basic Annual Expenses for Dogs and Cats (1)

 

Expense Dog Cat
Surgical vet $458 $201
Food 287 254
Routine visit 242 178
Kennel boarding 228 78
Food treats 81 72
Vitamins 81 47
Toys 56 41
Groomer/grooming aids 47 31

(1) APPA does not ask survey participants how much in total they spend on their dog or cats annually. The expenses listed above are not all inclusive and each category was asked separately of the survey participant.

Source: American Pet Products Association's 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey.

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