BOISE, Idaho – Dr. Jack Stephens, founder of pet insurance in North America, has received a first-of-its-kind Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).
Dr. Stephens was honored by NAPHIA not only for his role in founding pet insurance for Americans, but for his work galvanizing support from competitors to grow the industry as a whole. This is the first Lifetime Achievement Award ever given by the organization.
“The industry in North America has not just grown and evolved because of Jack’s contributions, it literally exists because of them,” said NAPHIA Executive Director Kristen Lynch. “The association’s executive came up with the award as a way to recognize him formally and thank him for his unparalleled contributions.”
After working as a veterinarian, Dr. Stephens started the pet insurance industry in the U.S. in 1981 as a way to end economic euthanasia – the practice of having to choose to end a pet’s life because the owners were unable to afford necessary veterinary care. He presented the first policy to canine television phenom Lassie. He went on to found Pets Best Insurance LLC in 2005 and act as a founding member of NAPHIA.
More than two decades after establishing the industry, Dr. Stephens said it became clear that competitor back-biting was hurting everyone in an industry that had a clear social mission. He and three other companies formed NAPHIA, which now boasts a 100 percent participation rate among pet insurance companies on the continent.
“The proudest moment of my veterinary and pet insurance career is experiencing the camaraderie and cooperative efforts of the entire industry to further our goal of providing pet owners with the financial means to always be able to treat their ill or injured pets without concern for the cost,” Dr. Stephens said.
Dennis Rushovich, President of NAPHIA, said it was an honor to present the award to Dr. Stephens at NAPHIA’s annual summit in May.
“Jack dedicated over thirty years of his life to this industry, exhibiting tenacity, creativity and diligence,” Rushovich said.
Using his model and, in many instances, from the benefit of his insight, the pet insurance industry has grown from a novel idea to more than 1.4 million pets insured in North America at year-end 2014. This represents an annual growth rate of 12.6% in the last two years.*
NAPHIA has grown to include the providers of more than 99 percent of pet insurance policies in the United States and Canada. The collaboration has been positive for all members, Lynch said.
“His foresight in driving the creation of NAPHIA has helped the industry to become formally recognized by the media, by professional organizations and the like. More importantly, his leadership in forming NAPHIA helped create and entrench a spirit of collegiality among our members that has positioned us to tackle challenges and opportunities that face us – today and in the future,” she said.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be reserved for singular achievement in the industry.
“There really is no one else at present who would be eligible to receive such an award, so we don’t see NAPHIA handing these out regularly,” Lynch said.
*According to the NAPHIA 2015 state of the industry report.
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) is comprised of reputable pet health insurance (PHI) organizations from across Canada and the United States. NAPHIA’s membership makes up over 99 percent of all pet health insurance coverage in effect in North America.
As a coalition, NAPHIA works to advance and grow the PHI industry through proactive research, data sharing, benchmarking initiatives, advocacy efforts, strategic partnerships, resource sharing and the dissemination of information to collaboratively address challenges and opportunities.
Each year, the industry marks its performance and growth with the release of its State of the Industry Report at the annual NAPHIA Summit.
About Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC
Dr. Jack L. Stephens, founder and director of Pets Best, founded pet insurance in the U.S. in 1981 with a mission to end euthanasia when pet owners couldn’t afford veterinary treatment. Dr. Stephens went on to present the first U.S. pet insurance policy to famous television dog Lassie. Pets Best provides coverage for dogs and cats. Dr. Stephens leads the Pets Best team with his passion for quality pet care and his expert veterinary knowledge. He is always available to answer questions regarding veterinary medicine, pet health and pet insurance. The Pets Best team is a group of pet lovers who strive to deliver quality customer service and value. Visit www.petsbest.com for more information.
Pet insurance coverage offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company. Independence American Insurance Company is a member of The IHC Group, an organization of insurance carriers and marketing and administrative affiliates that has been providing life, health, disability, medical stop-loss and specialty insurance solutions to groups and individuals for over 30 years. For information on The IHC Group, visit: www.ihcgroup.com. Additional insurance services administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC are underwritten by Prime Insurance Company. Some existing business is underwritten by Aetna Insurance Company of Connecticut. Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products.
Pets Best is a founding member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).