Portland Democrat introduces pet coverage monthly bill

Sen. Heather Sanborn faced an agonizing conclusion 15 several years in the past when her doggy required pricey surgery for a tumor that was likely to increase back again in a couple of months.

“I experienced an toddler and incredibly little loved ones earnings,” she explained to customers of the Legislature’s Health and fitness Protection, Insurance coverage and Fiscal Companies Committee. “I agonized over what to do and felt even additional heartsick for the reason that the unaffordable value of the surgical procedures weighed so greatly as a element in my consideration of how to proceed.”

From then on, the Portland Democrat vowed that any potential canine in her family would be covered by pet insurance. When purchasing for that insurance policy for her “pandemic puppy” in 2020, she identified that Maine lacked pet insurance policy regulations. On Thursday, she introduced LD 482, which is modeled on laws crafted by the National Association for Insurance policies Commissioners.

“The invoice gives crucial protections in a fast rising area of insurance,” reported Ben Yardley, an legal professional with the state Bureau of Insurance coverage. “It’s increasingly essential to numerous Maine men and women.”

Only about 3% of cats and canines are covered by pet coverage across the state, but mainly because additional folks adopted pets for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand from customers for coverage is expanding, mentioned Cari Lee, director of government affairs for the North American Pet Well being Insurance policy Affiliation.

Her group, which represents the 25 insurers who write 99% of the pet insurance policy procedures in the region, expressed help for the monthly bill with a couple of caveats.

The monthly bill outlines necessities for the sale of pet insurance plan in Maine, including producing confident individuals fully grasp if there are exclusions in the plan, this kind of as pre-existing ailments, hereditary problems or continual situations. It specifies that people can return a coverage within just 15 days of order and get a refund and that insurers are unable to institute ready periods for “illnesses or orthopedic ailments resulting from an accident.”

Lee reported the language all-around the waiting around time period may result in rates to go up if insurers are forced to include methods with out a waiting period. Comparable laws in California does not restrict waiting around intervals right after accidents, she stated.

Lee stated pet coverage ordinarily charges $49 a month for dogs and $29 a month for cats. The insurance policies is designed to go over significant and likely expensive gatherings these kinds of as cancer, diabetes or allergic reactions. She mentioned surgery to eliminate a sock from a dog’s belly could expense $7,000.

Pet insurance policy is distinct from wellness courses, which address ongoing bills such as once-a-year checkups and nail trimming.

The proposed laws prohibits insurers from selling wellness packages at the identical time someone is buying pet insurance policy. Lee said her team opposes that provision, due to the fact several individuals would like to acquire both equally at the same time.

Bruce Gerrity, who represents the American Home Casualty Insurance policies Affiliation, mentioned his group opposes that section of the monthly bill as perfectly as the one particular limiting ready durations.

“Having one thing like a small ready period of time assists clarify items,” he explained. “That will help retain fees down. No 1 in the nation has this sort of boundaries.”

The committee will keep a work session on the bill Wednesday.