The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) has announced that Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide, has been appointed as Chair of NAPHIA’s Veterinary Relations Committee. Dr. Benson is a licensed veterinarian, graduate of the University of Liverpool’s school of veterinary medicine, and an executive with a breadth of experience in the field of animal health.
“With a professional background that combines veterinary medicine, animal health communications, and insurance – this opportunity makes perfect sense to me,” said Dr. Benson. “Helping to communicate the benefits of pet health insurance to my veterinary colleagues on behalf of our industry is a good fit and a natural extension of my role at Nationwide.”
Veterinary research and education efforts are a major focus for NAPHIA, as pet health insurance is proven to have a tremendous impact on a pet-owner’s veterinary spending. In 2016, NAPHIA published Driving Growth Report, which showed that dog owners who had pet insurance spent 29% more a year with their veterinarian, and cat owners increased their spend by as much as 81% per year. NAPHIA’s research was further validated a year later when the AVMA’s EARC (Economic Advisory & Research Counsel) published its own research findings, which found the financial benefits of pet insurance for medicalized pets was even higher.
Dr. Benson is passionate about communicating effectively with veterinary teams to advance their understanding of this potential impact. “Simply put, pet insurance can help more and more pet owners get access to veterinary care,” he said. “The more we partner with the profession, the more pets will have access to medical treatment, and will receive that treatment more regularly.”
President of NAPHIA Rick Faucher welcomed Dr. Benson at NAPHIA’s most recent board meeting. “On behalf of NAPHIA, we’re grateful to both Dr. Benson and Nationwide for engaging Jules with our organization,” he said. “His relationships with other veterinarians across our industry and the profession will help to create a proactive and responsive network of professionals who understand the value and positive impact that pet insurance can have, not only in advancing veterinary medical care, but also towards improving pet owners’ ability to comply and follow-through with their veterinarian’s recommendations.”
The pet health insurance industry is currently partnering in regulatory reform initiatives led by the Pet Insurance Working Group, formed in 2019 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). “Dr. Benson and NAPHIA’s Veterinary Relations committee will also play an important role in helping our industry to ensure that insurance and veterinary terminology are aligned from a regulatory perspective,” said Faucher.
Dr. Benson takes over the role from Steve Shell, formerly of Petplan, who led NAPHIA’s veterinary Relations Committee and efforts for more than five years.
“The tremendous respect Steve has across the animal health industry brought added credibility to NAPHIA’s vet relations initiatives,” said Kristen Lynch, Executive Director of NAPHIA. “We truly appreciate his contributions and the inroads we made during his time as our veterinary Chair.”
“Steve has already ‘passed the baton’ to me, so I’m honored and excited to get started,” said Dr. Benson.