Could Emotional Support Animals be the next US craze to hit the UK?
With peacocks and hamsters among the latest so called Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) prevented from boarding an aircraft, pet insurance technologist Aquarium Software says that while the debate has ruffled feathers, it is another example of the similarities and differences between UK and US pet parents.
Americans can go online and pay a therapist for a letter declaring a pet an ESA, which has corresponded with an 86 percent surge in animal incidents on aircraft since 2016. United carried 76,000 ESAs in 2017, up 77 percent on the year before. As 72 percent of Americans now say their pet is just as important to the family as the human members, Aquarium says ESA is the latest manifestation of burgeoning pet power.
“The ESA trend in the US is predictable, given the extraordinary emotional investment we now make in our pets,” said Aquarium Software Director, Mark Colonnese. “Pets are with us at work and play, so travel is the next step. While I don’t think ESAs will find their way onto UK flights anytime soon, insurers need to be aware of the impact of these emotional ties when it comes to explaining to consumers the value of pet insurance.”
YouGov research conducted in the US and UK on behalf of Aquarium revealed Americans are five percent higher on emotional connection with pets than UK pet parents, on average. “Clearly cultural differences have a role to play in animal and human insurance, but that cannot altogether explain why more Americans do not insure their pets,” added Colonnese. “74 percent of Americans have never had pet insurance. Given the rise of ESA and the growing emotional bond with Pets, this is a surprise, and presents a great market opportunity,” concluded Colonnese.