Pet Realty Network

Pet_realty_network_1 A while ago, Rhona Sutter, founder and head of Pet Protect down in Naples Florida, told me that she was working on something very interesting to do with pets (see blog entry Pet Protect On Hold for the Moment).

Well, she and the gang have been working hard on the Pet Realty Network a website that connects "Pet Friendly People with Pet Friendly Real Estate Agents, Properties, Communities...and more"

Pimms_6mos_1 This is definitely a concept that I had no idea there was a need for (just like the concept of pet insurance for many people) but then, I have 2 cats and haven't had to worry about real estate that allows for my cats.

But if you have some dogs, horses or even some farm animals, you might worry about finding some place that all the family can call home. Rhona, Molly, Pimms (see gorgeous chocolate lab to the left) and the rest of the gang are busy building the network as we speak so check it out - it's free to search the listings.

How does The Pet Realty Network™ work?

Real Estate Professionals can instantly feature their Pet Friendly Properties and Communities and personal 'Bio' and contact information in The Pet Realty Network™ database of Pet Friendly Properties and Agents.

Pet Owners have free unlimited access to browse The Pet Realty Network™ database of Pet Friendly Properties and Agents to help them with all of their Pet Friendly Real Estate needs, plus search the Directory of Pet and Real Estate Resources and News and Views.

Embrace Pet Insurance staff picture January 4, 2007

You may remember that we had an Embrace staff photo day at the beginning of January - a fun day with cats, dogs, and our office hamster. Well, here's the whole gang on the day.

Embrace_pet_insurance_staff_jan_4_2007_2 From left to right:

top: Matt Finley; Laura Bennett with Barnes; Chris Hagesfeld; Jonathan Schultz

bottom: Chris Wrona with Jacobe; Alex Krooglik; Lea Jaratz with Lyger.

Sparkle our office hamster is sleeping in his cage in our call center.

Embrace Pet Insurance: policy maximums

Winston_and_peaches There are many different types of maximums a pet insurance product can have. I talk about many of them in this article here. In summary, maximums usually include a selection of per incident, per annum, per body system, and per lifetime maximums.

Here's what you need to know about Embrace Pet Insurance maximums:

  • we only have annual maximums and your choices are $2,000, $5,000, and $10,000 with $2,000 being the least expensive.
  • your policy annual maximum is the largest dollar amount Embrace will refund you during the policy year
  • the maximum is applied after the deductible and copay have been calculated (a subtle point but it means that if I say that the maximum Embrace pays is $10,000, it's $10,000, not $10,000 before the deductible and copay are applied, which has the effect of making the actual payout less than $10,000 - see example 2 at the bottom)
  • at the end of the year, your claims total for the year is reset to zero and the calculation starts afresh. In other words, if you hit your maximum this year, you start afresh next year.

Note that we have no per incident limits, no per body system limits, and no per lifetime limits.

Here are some examples. Please forgive me if they are confusing - let me know how I can do better and I'll tighten them up.

Example 1: annual maximum is after deductible and copay

Policy has $100 annual deductible, 10% copay, and $2,000 annual maximum

Claim 1: $900 for a serious infection.

Payout = [$900 - $100 annual deductible = $800] x (1 - 10% copay) = $720

This is less than the maximum of $2,000 so pay out $720

Claim 2: $1,500 for an ultrasound, hospital stay, and other diagnostic work

Payout = [$1,500 - 0 because you have paid your deductible for the year] x (1 - 10% copay) = $1,350

Previous payout is $720. Add current proposed payout to get $2,070. This is more than the maximum for the year so the latest payout is capped so that the total payout is $2,000 i.e.$1,280.

Total payout is $2,000.

At the end of the year, the claims total resets to zero and the calculation starts again next year.

Example 2: annual maximum is before deductible and copay

Policy has $100 annual deductible, 10% copay, and $2,000 annual maximum

Claim 1: $900 for a serious infection.

Check claim is less than annual maximum of $2,000, which it is.

Payout = [$900 - $100 deductible = $800] x (1 - 10% copay) = $720

Claim 2: $1,500 for an ultrasound, hospital stay, and other diagnostic work

Check the running total of claims ($900 + $1,500 = $2,400) is less than annual maximum of $2,000, which it is not. Need to reduce latest claim by $400 to keep within limit of $2,000.

Payout = [$1,500 - $400 - 0 deductible] x (1 - 10% copay) = $990

Total payout for the year is $720 + $990 = $1,710, not $2,000

Embrace Pet Insurance wins a Microsoft Pinnacle Award

Pawprint_of_approval A large pawprint of approval!

We've been converting over to our new back office system based on Microsoft CRM. It's been a slower process than we'd thought but we're nearly there. You'll see some of the benefits of that hard work when we launch our new website in a few weeks time.

In the meantime, we were nominated in January for a Pinnacle Award for our information systems project work. This award is one that Microsoft gives for innovative use of its Microsoft Dynamics software and is presented at Convergence 2007 in San Diego in March.   

Woo hoo! We just heard that we won the award for Services Industry Leadership because of our "innovative use of Microsoft technologies to deliver measurable benefits to its organization and customers". Cool!

Microsoft officially announced the Pinnacle Awards yesterday and here is the press release. Yes, there's some marketing spin for Microsoft in all of this of course, but it's great for a start up to win a leadership award for financial services companies, don't you think?

The stats:

entrants: 175

winners: 17

number of companies being highlighted in a video presentation at the Convergence 2007 presentation: 4

Embrace Pet Insurance being one of the four companies highlighted in the video: priceless

More info:

Microsoft Dynamics is a line of financial, customer relationship and supply chain management solutions that helps businesses work more effectively - software includes Microsoft CRM and Great Plains.

The Industry Leadership Awards recognize organizations in Services, Manufacturing, Public Sector, Healthcare and Retail/Distribution sectors whose innovative use of technology in their operations deliver measurable benefits to their organizations. Candidates for this award are judged on creativity, vision and the tangible business benefits in the areas of sales, marketing and customer service; business operations/financial management; and/or business innovation.

The Services Industry Leadership Award is open to financial services organizations in the banking, insurance and capital markets as well as professional service organizations.

How big is the pet insurance market in the US?

Jakob_dillon_and_emma_bean A lot of articles on pet insurance quote the APPMA's statistics on how many pet parents have pet insurance in the US. Here is an excerpt from an APPMA press release on pet trends for 2006:

"According to the Survey, pet insurance is also gaining in popularity with three percent of dogs and one percent of cats having pet insurance (up from 2002 stats showing two percent and less than one percent, respectively)."

The survey referred to is the APPMA’s National Pet Owners Survey, which is published every year and gives some excellent stats about the pet parent population that otherwise would be unavailable.

In a prior entry, I have shown that less than 0.5% of pets in the US are insured based on individual policy numbers for the different companies selling pet insurance in 2004 - a "bottom up" approach. Even with one year's growth since then, it's not nearly the numbers that the APPMA show from their survey.

Here's a "top down" approach to looking at the market based on the numbers of pets in the US.

If we use the Pet Food Institute’s numbers for the pet population in 2005, there were 63 million dogs and 81.4 million cats in the US, for a total of 144.4 million dogs and cats (in turn sourced from Datamonitor, a European market research firm).

If we use the corresponding APPMA's stats, there were were 73.9 million dogs and 90.5 million cats in the US, for a total of 164.4 million dogs and cats.  The APPMA's numbers are higher by 20 million so you can see the difficulties in collecting stats on cats and dogs in the US.

If we use the lower numbers (more conservative), if 3% of dogs in the United States, or 1.9 million, have pet insurance, and each pays an average of $300 per year for pet insurance, then dogs alone would generate $567 million in premium. 1% of cats would be 814,000 cats at an average annual premium of about $275 for a total of $224 million. Note that the average premiums are pretty common, you can do online quotes yourself to see.

So taking these two numbers together, pet insurance in the United States is somewhere in the vicinity of a $791 million market, give or take $100 million (using the APPMA population numbers, the total would be even higher at $914 million).

Now, according to Packaged Facts, a research firm that reports on the North American pet insurance market biannually, they estimate that pet insurance premiums were worth $160 million in 2005 based on the companies that were selling pet insurance at that time. That’s one fifth of what we came up with from our top down calculation. The Packaged Facts numbers indicate a penetration closer to 0.4%, not much different than we estimated from adding up the individual companies' numbers.

I'm not sure why the APPMA's numbers are so different - perhaps the sample of people who answer these surveys are more likely to have pet insurance?

What the APPMA do have right, and more important for Embrace Pet Insurance, is that the market is growing, with more and more pet parents signing up for pet insurance over time. It's just that there's more room for growth than is often quoted.