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July 12, 2018updated 31 Jan 2022 10:21am

Pet insurance: How Google Photos could be used to keep pets healthy

By GlobalData Financial Services

The pet insurance market has long faced a challenging claims landscape, forcing insurers to increase average premiums annually. In 2017, average premiums rose 3%.

One solution to tackle the rising cost of claims is for insurers to take a more preventative approach, by acting early to reduce the severity and in turn the cost of a claim. Technology will undoubtedly play a role in this, with Google Photos being a prime example of what is available and could be applied.

Google Photos has the capability to recognise an individual cat or dog’s face and then generate a photo album containing pictures featuring that pet. With pet owners often taking a considerable number of pictures of their pets, the amount of photos available could prove to be a useful aid for both insurers and vets in a number of different ways.

Using Google Photos to monitor the health of pets

Such technology could be used to help develop a virtual veterinary service, allowing vets to diagnosis certain ailments by detecting anomalies within the picture, such as changes to the animal’s eyes.

Ultimately this could allow for a more preventative approach to be taken, as vets would have the opportunity to identify ailments themselves rather than waiting for the owner to respond.

From an insurer’s perspective, allowing vets to take a preventative approach could be highly effective at tackling the rising cost of claims seen within the market.

Preventing animal obesity and cutting pet insurance claims in the process

Google Photos could also help tackle one of the biggest health issues in the pet market: obesity.

It is estimated that 52% of dogs and 47% of cats in the UK are obese, with obesity increasing the risk of pets developing ailments such as heart disease and arthritis.

Technology that can prevent this should be adopted by the industry. Using Google Photos to quickly produce albums will give vets and owners access to a timeline where the pet’s weight can be monitored, allowing for early intervention if prolonged changes in weight occur.

Encouraging pet owners’ support

It is unlikely that all consumers would be willing to use such a service, as they may feel that there is no clear benefit to them.

However, insurers could offer virtual tokens to owners who use the service and upload photos regularly; these tokens could then be used against purchases of high-quality pet food or other products, with the aim of improving the pet’s health and benefiting the insurer in the longer term by reducing the cost of claims.