Korean insurance bill reclassifying pets sparks confusion

Legal classification of pets as property may conflict with pending insurance regulation

Korean insurance bill reclassifying pets sparks confusion

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

A bill pending in South Korea’s legislature that seeks to reclassify pets’ insurance as equivalent to humans’ has caused confusion over the status of companion animals.

The bill, which was proposed by Rep. Kim Byung-wook, will consider pet insurance plans as category 3 of human insurance programs, aligning them with insurance that covers illness, injuries, and nursing services for humans, Korea Bizwire reported.

If passed, the bill will amend the current insurance laws to allow category 3 insurance plans to cover pet accidents. This, the report said, may break the legal premise that category 3 insurance plans are exclusively for humans.

South Korean law currently classifies pets as property. This holds owners responsible for all damages caused by their pets. Meanwhile, abuse of other people’s pets is considered criminal damage of property.

Due to the status of pets as property, general insurance companies are the ones that sell pet insurance. However, a change in status may cause conflict over who gets to sell insurance for pets between life and general insurers. Category 3 insurance products can be sold by both types of insurance companies, the report said.

Pet insurance’s popularity is rapidly growing in the country, with the market expanding four-fold from KRW300 million (US$257,000) in 2013 to KRW1.28 billion (US$1.07 million) in 2018.

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