The MGA’s chief financial officer discusses the US market and why it is a ’window of opportunity’

UK-based MGA ManyPets has plans to become a carrier in the US following two key acquisitions.

This includes its purchase of flea, tick and worm protection business VetBox in December 2021 as well as its acquisition of US-based carrier Digital Edge Insurance Company, which the MGA bought from Munich Re in October 2022.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times following the release of ManyPets’ year-end financial results on 24 November 2022, Luisa Barile, the company’s chief financial officer, said the MGA is now focused on integrating these two acquisitions into the business and working closer with customers to provide more than just insurance propositions.

A key element of this work is to use Digital Edge Insurance Company to support ManyPets becoming a carrier in the US.

Barile explained: “We are moving away from an MGA model to having our own capacity.

”It’s really important for us as we are going to be in control of our own destiny – it’s an opportunity to boost our insurance capabilities further.”

The US marks a ”window of opportunity” for ManyPets, noted Barile, because ”the US market has a high penetration of insurance”.

”This is partly because of the structural nature of the healthcare system and the social security that [US citizens] have,” she added.

Unlike the UK, which relies on the National Health Service to provide free healthcare to UK nationals, Americans must have health insurance in order to receive healthcare.

This mentality is reflected in the US pet insurance market, which Barile described as being much more mature than the UK pet insurance sector.

ManyPets launched as an MGA in the US in March 2021 - its products are now available across 40 states in the US, covering 85% of the American pet insurance market.

Pet insurance versus wellness

Alongside its geographical expansion, ManyPets has also sought to extend its product proposition, moving away from solely offering pet insurance to also focus on pet wellbeing and wellness.

This strategy shift saw the MGA rebrand from Bought By Many to ManyPets - this change occured in November 2020 for its Sweden operations and in March 2022 for its UK arm.

According to Barile, the difference between pet insurance and pet wellness products is that an insurance product would cover “anything unexpected”, such as accidental illness. This includes, for example, a dog running into the road and being hit by a car.

Pet wellness, on the other hand, covers regular check ups and vaccinations – appointments that are the equivalent of a human going to the doctors.

“There’s not a lot of understanding of what is insurance and what is wellness, which is surprising. So, a lot of the work we are doing is around building awareness and education for customers,” Barile added.

Barile noted that in the US, pet wellness product uptake is typically higher than pet insurance penetration.

Overall, she feels there is more work to do when it comes to the growth of the pet insurance market.

She said: “Pet insurance was invented in Sweden. It came to the UK in the 1940s and the US in the 1980s – it hasn’t been around for that long.

”It is a bit of a forgotten area of the market, so there are not many offers.”