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At least one U.S. auto insurance company is now offering coverage for pets.Progressive Corp. is providing collision coverage for customers’ dogs or cats at no additional premium cost. It will pay up to $500 if a customer’s dog or cat is hurt or dies in a car accident.“It’s an unusual and interesting benefit,” said Jean Salvatore, a senior vice president for the Insurance Information Institute. She was not aware of any other company offering a collision benefit for pets.“Auto insurance is a very competitive market, and companies are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves. If this becomes popular, I’m sure others may look into it as well,” Salvatore said.A week later, Commerce Insurance, a Massachusetts-based insurer, announced it would add the benefit for members of the American Automobile Association it insures starting next year.The Progressive benefit has been in place since Sept. 6, and it is still too soon to determine if the company’s undetermined cost of offering it will be offset by better sales, Progressive spokeswoman Leah Knapp said.Progressive is the third-biggest auto insurer in the U.S., ranking behind State Farm and Allstate.There are more than 150 million pets in the U.S., and Americans spend more than $40 billion on their pets annually, according to a recent Insurance Information Institute study.