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The Fortune 500® company will make PetFirst’s pet insurance offering available to their U.S. group benefits customers
MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET) (“MetLife”) and PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst”), a fast-growing pet health insurance administrator based in Jeffersonville, IN, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which MetLife will acquire PetFirst.
PetFirst currently employees about 60 people in their Jeffersonville offices. All of these employees are expected to continue in their current or similar positions.
Katie Blakeley, CEO of PetFirst said, “For more than 15 years, we have proudly focused on developing products and services to meet the growing and evolving needs of pet parents across the U.S. During this time, we have seen pet insurance continue to gain importance as a valuable product for families. With MetLife’s tremendous reach and resources, we see a strong opportunity to help more pet parents get access to pet insurance and alleviate the potential financial burden of a sick or injured pet.”
Blakeley was recently named one of Louisville’s most admired CEOs by Louisville Business First. PetFirst also recently celebrated its 15th anniversary by distributing 15,000 pet treats to animal shelters around the country.
PetFirst strives to reduce the financial worry that comes with having a pet. As more and more families consider pets a part of their family, they are more likely to seek specialist care, experimental surgeries and emergency room care for their pets. That care can improve pets’ quality of life and lengthen lifespans, but can also be expensive. For example, last year, one of PetFirst’s largest claims helped a French bulldog receive experimental surgery that removed cysts from his nasal passages. That claim exceeded $10,000 but the dog, Wally Weeto, is doing well.
Blakeley said that in the long term, the acquisition could mean even more jobs in Jeffersonville, as MetLife will be offering the product to more employers around the country. As part of a Fortune 500® company, the Jeffersonville jobs could become even more desirable.
Founded in 2004, PetFirst currently administers insurance coverage on more than 40,000 pets. It has a strong track record of delivering outstanding service to policyholders and maintaining trust through its emphasis on community and support of local humane societies and shelters. PetFirst currently distributes its pet insurance products through animal welfare agencies, direct to consumer channels and employers.
The acquisition will leverage MetLife’s position as a market-leader in U.S. group benefits by enabling the company to offer a new benefit that is growing in popularity. Since 2014, the annual growth rate for the pet insurance industry has been more than 20 percent.
“Pet insurance has become an increasingly important voluntary benefit, and this transaction allows us to capitalize on this rapidly growing market opportunity,” said Ramy Tadros, president of U.S. Business for MetLife. “Today’s employees have an increasing expectation of their employer to support their lives holistically, and offering pet insurance provides our customers’ employees additional support against unexpected out-of-pocket pet health expenses. PetFirst is a leading pet health insurance administrator and we look forward to welcoming the talented PetFirst team to the MetLife family.”
The pet insurance market is under-penetrated and fast growing. The roughly 85 million families that own pets in the United States spend $18 billion annually on veterinary care, yet, as of 2018, less than 2 percent of pets were insured. Following the acquisition, PetFirst will continue to market pet insurance through animal welfare societies and its direct-to-customer channel. Beginning in the summer of 2020, MetLife will offer this pet insurance to employers through its leading group benefits distribution channel, reaching approximately 41 million employees and dependents across the U.S.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020 subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.