Press release: MetLife
MetLife Inc. and PetFirst Healthcare LLC, a fast-growing pet health insurance administrator, on December 5 announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which MetLife will acquire PetFirst.
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-consumer 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.
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.”
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020 subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.
Guggenheim Securities LLC acted as financial adviser, and Mayer Brown served as legal counsel to MetLife in connection with this transaction.