New Law Goes Into Effect On Jan 1, 2024
A new bill signed by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu aims to make the Granite State the most “pet-friendly” in the country. On July 28th, the New Hampshire Insurance Department announced that HB249, establishing pet insurance regulations in New Hampshire, had been signed into law.
The law, based on model legislation from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), offers enhanced protection to consumers in the
growing pet insurance industry.
“Pets become family,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “This law will provide Granite Staters with peace of mind and opportunity to ensure their pets can receive the best care possible. New Hampshire is continuing to fulfill our promise of being the most pet-friendly state in the country.”
“This new legislation establishes similar regulatory frameworks and consumer protections as other insurance products, ensuring consistent, reliable definitions and transparent disclosure,” said James Fox, Property and Casualty Director at the NHID. “HB 249 addresses consumer concerns and offers flexibility by allowing a 15-day grace period for policyholders to change their minds and receive a full refund if they haven’t filed a claim.”
The law sets clear definitions for terms used in pet insurance policies, such as chronic conditions, preexisting conditions, and wellness programs. Insurance companies must adhere to these definitions when dealing with consumer policies.
Pet Insurance Now A Billion-Dollar Industry
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), total premium volume for pet insurance in the U.S. in 2022 was circa $3.2 billion. As for the total number of pets insured in the U.S., data suggests that by the end of 2022, there were approximately 4.8 million insured pets. Based on this data from both the III and NAPHIA, this represents a 22 percent increase over the number of pets insured in 2021
New Law Creates A Much-Needed Regulatory Framework
Transparency for the consumer is prioritized in the new legislation notes the NHID. Policies must explicitly state any exclusions, including preexisting conditions, hereditary disorders, congenital anomalies, or chronic conditions. Limitations such as waiting periods, deductibles, and policy limits must also be disclosed. Insurance companies cannot increase premiums or reduce coverage based on claims history or the pet’s age without informing the consumer.
Regarding exclusions, consumers should be aware of preexisting conditions. They need to establish that such conditions are the responsibility of the insurance company and not their own.
For accident coverage, waiting periods are prohibited, but they can be imposed (up to 30 days) for illnesses or orthopedic conditions, which can be waived with a medical examination. Renewal cannot be contingent on a medical examination.
“HB 249 brings much-needed regulatory frameworks and consumer safeguards to the rapidly growing pet insurance industry,” said Deputy Commissioner DJ Bettencourt. “We are pleased to see the model legislation from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners setting the stage for a streamlined and reliable pet insurance experience for New Hampshire residents. By establishing clear guidelines on exclusions and waiting periods, we aim to make pet insurance policies more transparent and comprehensible for our citizens.”
Pet Insurance Sellers Must Be Licensed in NH By NHID
As with the sale of all insurance products, licensing and professionalism requirements apply to pet insurance sellers, ensuring they complete necessary training and obtain a license from the New Hampshire Insurance Department.
The new law will take effect January 1, 2024.