California’s Gov. Brown Signs New Pet Insurance Regulations

A first-in-the-nation set of protections pet insurance purchasers, which will require insurers to better explain policies, standardize definitions and provide a 30-day trial period, is now the law of the land in California.

Sponsored by the state’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and set to go into effect July 1, 2015, Assembly Bill 2056, as signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, will make it mandatory for pet insurers to disclose baseline information about their policies, such as reimbursement benefits, preexisting condition limitations, and a clear explanation of limitations of coverage including coinsurance, waiting periods, deductibles, and annual or lifetime policy limits.

Consumers will also be afforded a 30-day “free look” period, is it was called in a news release, during which a pet insurance policy can be returned for a full refund.

“California consumers will now have greater protection when they purchase pet insurance,” Jones said in a statement. “In the state with the largest number of insured pets, once again California is leading the way by becoming the first state in the nation to enact a law that adds consumer protections to this rapidly growing line of insurance. I would like to thank Governor Brown for signing our bill and giving Californians peace of mind when it comes to protecting their pets.”

Addressing the majority of the complaints the state’s insurance department has fielded about pet insurance, consumers purchasing pet insurance will now be provide a more concise explanation of what they are buying – including the oh-so-vital definitions of what does and doesn’t qualify as a pre-existing condition.

The consumer advocacy group Actors and Others for Animals, which has steadfastly supported the bill, says it’s noted an uptick in applications by pet owners with pet insurance who need assistance paying for their sick or injured pets because their policy exclusions exceed their benefits.

Jones first authored the pet insurance consumer protection bill in 2008, when he served in the State Assembly, and had managed to get the bill to the governor’s desk, only to have it vetoed by the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to Jones’ office, the pet insurance industry is expected to grow to at least $750 million by next year – while Americans spend more than $15 billion annually on veterinary care.

Reprinted from the Latin Post