N.Y.: New pet insurance legislation: Implications for independent insurance agents and clients

July 4, 2024

New York’s pet owners and their beloved companions are set to benefit from newly passed legislation that formalizes the regulation of pet insurance in the state. While pet insurance has been available for years, this landmark move introduces a clear and structured framework designed to enhance consumer protection and market transparency.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter, D-128, and Sen. Neil Breslin, D-46, A.8276 / S.7845 underscores the evolving recognition of pets as cherished family members. It will ensure that insurance products are available, reliable, regulated and tailored to meet the needs of pet owners more effectively. This standardization is crucial, as it eliminates confusion and ensures pet owners understand exactly what their insurance covers.

The bill standardizes definitions for key terms related to pet insurance, including chronic conditions, congenital anomalies, hereditary disorders and preexisting conditions. Transparency is a cornerstone of the bill as insurers will be required to clearly disclose policy details, including any exclusions for preexisting conditions, hereditary disorders, congenital anomalies or chronic conditions.

Furthermore, they must inform consumers about any policy provisions that limit coverage, such as waiting periods, deductibles, coinsurance or policy limits. This level of transparency ensures that pet owners are fully informed about their coverage, enabling them to make educated decisions about their pets’ insurance.

The legislation also contains strong consumer protections. Pet owners are granted a 30-day examination period during which they can review their policy. If they are not satisfied for any reason and have not filed a claim, they can return the policy for a full refund.

This provision offers peace of mind, allowing insureds to confirm that their policy meets their needs without undue financial risk. To further aid consumers, the bill would mandate that insurers provide summaries of important policy provisions. These summaries must be easily accessible on insurers’ websites, ensuring pet owners can quickly find the information they need.

Lastly, the legislation establishes training requirements for insurance producers who sell pet insurance to ensure they are well-versed in the specifics of pet insurance, including preexisting conditions, waiting periods, hereditary disorders, congenital anomalies and other pertinent topics.

If producers have completed comparable training requirements in another state, these will be recognized as fulfilling New York training requirements, provided they are substantially similar. This ensures that pet owners receive accurate and helpful information when purchasing insurance.

If signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, A.8276 / S.7845 will take effect 180 days after its enactment and will apply to all new, renewed, modified or amended pet insurance policies from that date.

Theophilus Alexander
PIA Northeast

Theophilus W. Alexander joined PIA Northeast as a government & industry affairs specialist for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. Prior to joining PIA, Theo had served in both houses of the New York State Legislature. Previously, he worked as a legislative analyst for Hon. New York State Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-55, and he served at the New York State Assembly, as a policy analyst with New York Assembly Program & Counsel. Theo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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