VPI, Pets Best Founder Receives Lifetime Award

Dr. Jack Stephens speaks after accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the NAPHIA Summit.


The North American Pet Health Insurance Association honors Dr. Jack Stephens.

By Veterinary Practice News Editors

Jack Stephens, DVM, who started the North American pet health insurance industry in the early 1980s, has been honored with a lifetime achievement award.

The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) paid tribute to Dr. Stephens during its recent convention.

“The industry in North America has not just grown and evolved because of Jack’s contributions, it literally exists because of them,” said NAPHIA executive director Kristen Lynch. “The association’s executives came up with the award as a way to recognize him formally and thank him for his unparalleled contributions.”

Stephens founded Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), which made headlines in 1982 when the star of TV’s “Lassie” was enrolled as the first policy beneficiary. Within three years the company expanded from selling health insurance in California to signing up pet owners nationwide.

Today, about a dozen companies insure more than 1.4 million pets across North America.

Stephens left VPI in 2004 and the next year launched a competitor, Boise, Idaho-based Pets Best Insurance Services. He no longer is involved in the day-to-day operations at Pets Best but remains a board member and one of three managers.

“The proudest moment of my veterinary and pet insurance career is experiencing the camaraderie and cooperative efforts of the entire industry to further our goal of providing pet owners with the financial means to always be able to treat their ill or injured pets without concern for the cost,” Stephens said.

NAPHIA owes its existence to Stephens, Lynch said.

“His foresight in driving the creation of NAPHIA has helped the industry to become formally recognized by the media, by professional organizations and the like,” she said. “More importantly, his leadership in forming NAPHIA helped create and entrench a spirit of collegiality among our members that has positioned us to tackle challenges and opportunities that face us—today and in the future.”

Stephens became the first recipient of NAPHIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor that may not be bestowed again for a while.

“There really is no one else at present who would be eligible to receive such an award, so we don’t see NAPHIA handing these out regularly,” Lynch said.

Reprinted from Veterinary Practice News 

About Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC

Dr. Jack L. Stephens, founder and director of Pets Best, founded pet insurance in the U.S. in 1981 with a mission to end euthanasia when pet owners couldn’t afford veterinary treatment. Dr. Stephens went on to present the first U.S. pet insurance policy to famous television dog Lassie. Pets Best provides coverage for dogs and cats. Dr. Stephens leads the Pets Best team with his passion for quality pet care and his expert veterinary knowledge. He is always available to answer questions regarding veterinary medicine, pet health and pet insurance. The Pets Best team is a group of pet lovers who strive to deliver quality customer service and value. Visit www.petsbest.com for more information.

Pet insurance coverage offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company. Independence American Insurance Company is a member of The IHC Group, an organization of insurance carriers and marketing and administrative affiliates that has been providing life, health, disability, medical stop-loss and specialty insurance solutions to groups and individuals for over 30 years. For information on The IHC Group, visit: www.ihcgroup.com. Additional insurance services administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC are underwritten by Prime Insurance Company. Some existing business is underwritten by Aetna Insurance Company of Connecticut. Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products.

Pets Best is a founding member of the North America Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).