There's a lot to celebrate during the month of September: fall arrives, football season kicks off, and, it's national Pet Health Insurance Month! That means one Boise-based business has a lot to celebrate, since they are quickly becoming the "cat's meow" of the booming pet health insurance industry.
In fact, the president of Pets Best Pet Health Insurance, Chris Middleton, told 6 On Your Side, "[Pet health insurance is] one of the fastest growing insurance industries in the U.S."
Veterinarian Dr. Jack Stephens is the original founder of Boise-based Pets Best, but before Stephens founded the company, he created the industry! "He is considered to be the father of pet insurance in the United States," Middleton says of Stephens.
Back in 1981, Dr. Stephens founded the first-ever pet health insurance company in California, and one of his very first clients was an incredibly famous canine. "[Stephens] wrote the very first policy to Lassie on television in 1982," Middleton recalls.
Stephens came up with the idea of pet insurance after seeing too many pet owners having to choose between their pooch and their pocketbook. "He had one too many instances of having to put a pet to sleep for economic reasons. Somebody simply didn't have the money to take care of the pet and he said, no more, I'm done with economic euthanasia."
After leaving the insurance company that he created in California, Stephens wound up in living in southern Idaho, and helped launch Pets Best in 2005. Middleton says the company did well to begin with, but has boomed recently. "Over the last several years consumer acceptance has really turned the corner," he says.
And, as medical costs for both humans and animals continue to rise due to advances in medicine and technology, Middleton says health insurance for Fido and Fluffy can literally be a life-saver. "We get feedback all the time that says the only reason my pet is still alive is because we had pet health insurance."
And while Pets Best may be based in Boise and does have a large customer base here, the company's coverage reaches far beyond the Gem State. "Pets Best sells pet health insurance across the nation."
In fact, they recently reached the milestone of insuring 100,000 pets across all 50 states and Washington, DC, an accomplishment Middleton fully credits to being a business born and bred in Idaho. "We can do what we do from anywhere in the country but being in a great community like Boise and having access to the quality of the folks that we've been able to attract has been really beneficial."
Now, if you're wondering what exactly pet health insurance is, it works just like medical coverage for humans.There are different plans and policies, each with their own deductibles, premiums, co-pays, and coverage.
To find out more about Pets Best and check whether your pet may be eligible for coverage, you can find them online here.