The recently announced partnership between Pets Best Insurance and the American Veterinary Medical Association's Group Health & Life Insurance Trust (GHLIT) has some competitors crying foul.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — The recently announced partnership between Pets Best Insurance and the American Veterinary Medical Association's Group Health & Life Insurance Trust (GHLIT) has some competitors crying foul.
But Pets Best founder Dr. Jack Stephens says the partnership's goal is to educate veterinarians and consumers about pet insurance, and is not meant to exclude other groups.
While Julie Kahn, spokeswoman for Nestle Purina PetCare Co., says the company's pet-insurance arm had no comment, an unnamed official with Purina operations told the Veterinary Information Network that he "felt duped" after "Purina actively supported GHLIT's involvement in writing pet health insurance standards" only to discover the exclusive partnership between GHLIT and Pets Best.
Now, even though Purina's pet-insurance program meets GHLIT standards, the company cannot earn AVMA's stamp of approval because of the partnership.
Stephens says he was approached by GHLIT trustees about talking with Aetna, which had an interest in entering the pet health-insurance market, but wouldn't do so without an experienced partner. Stephens, who has been in the industry since 1979, when he formed Veterinary Pet Insurance, had the experience.
And it was that experience, and not the fact that GHLIT CEO Libby Wallace's father, Dr. Bruce Little, retired AVMA executive vice president, is a Pets Best shareholder and sits on the company's board of directors, that cemented the partnership.
Stephens left VPI in mid-2004 and started Pets Best in 2005.
VPI also expressed frustration over the partnership.
"Based on what we have heard, there are several significant questions that we believe should be asked to ensure this proposed pet health insurance partnership will serve the best interests of the veterinary profession," says Curtis Steinhoff, VPI spokesman.
Because Pets Best is an Aetna subsidiary, the partnership means in effect that Aetna will be the new underwriter for the Pets Best Insurance plan.