when all you want is a gas station...

I offer you a story from the NAPHIA meeting in Pittsburgh. It's an example of how we pet insurance CEOs work together in a tight situation.

I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in my car with Steve Popovich, the CEO of Pet Partners (AKC brand of pet insurance). This was the first time I'd met Steve as he's just joined the NAPHIA board, and it seems that in the close confines of a car, we talked a lot about things you'd expect all the way there (I peppered him with questions about the AKC plan and Pet Partners) and on the way back, a lot of things we might not otherwise have done so - religion, politics, and dieting being some of the more unexpected topics we covered.

Gas station Despite being at the opposite ends of the scale on many things (except the dieting), we had a very enjoyable conversation and when we arrived back in Pittsburgh, Steve graciously offered to fill my car up with gas, which I gladly accepted. So, with the empty gas tank light on, I pulled out my Droid and my navigation app, which had successfully got us around up to that point, to guide us to where we needed to go.  

First stop: the first stop indicated was 0.7 miles from the hotel - excellent! But when we got to the location, there was nothing there (and I mean no gas station or even a building). A closer look showed that the location was actually the marketing arm of Hess, not actually a gas station, but still - no building?

Second stop: the next stop was in the other direction and when we got there, it turned out to be an airport park and fly. No luck there.

Third stop: navigation said go to Sams' Club on top of the hill nearby so we went up there only to find this Sam's Club didn't have a gas station and if it had, I realized we'd probably need a membership to fill up and of course, we didn't have one between us.

Detour: while we were up on top of this hill where there were lots of shops and people, we figured we'd scout out the area since there had to be a gas station amongst the many buildings. Actually there are none, zero, zip, nada.

Now the going was getting tricky as the next supposed stops were getting to be several miles away in different directions, rush hour was on, and we were losing confidence in the navigation and quite frankly, just gas stations in general. And of course, we were driving on fumes.

Fourth stop: back to the navigation... we picked the next stop on the list and headed there, only to find ourselves stopped in our tracks, gazing across the bridge at TWO lovely welcoming gas stations on the other side - except that the bridge had a large hole in it and was closed for construction. So cruel!

(now we're thinking back to that conversation about religion and god and the twilight zone...)

Fifth stop: So, we followed the detour - back on to the highway, take next exit right, turn right again and again and instead of ending up right back where we were, somehow, we  were on the other side of the highway at the gas station. (it felt like Escher's staircase in reality)


Except that the pumps weren't working. It turns out the computers had been down for the last 20 mins according to the very apologetic station attendant. Sigh.

We both turned and stared at the last remaining gas station across the road and prayed for success.

Sixth stop: Across we went and drove around the closed pumps to the back to find one of the two available and filled up. Yes!

The whole trip must have taken nearly an hour of driving around.

Meanwhile, no work was getting done. A conf call was getting missed. And Steve and I found out that we make a good team in difficult circumstances.

And if that's not a good sign for NAPHIA and pet insurance, I don't know what is!

PS. Steve sent me this email just yesterday: Hi Laura, My accountant just got a call from AMEX asking if the BP charge for gas in Pittsburgh “really happened”. I thought that was funny. Maybe our journey was not meant to end there. Regards Steve


Ask Laura: should I wait until after the spay or neuter to insure my dog?

I thought I'd talk about a question we get all the time about our discounts (yay for discounts!)

Winston puppy Question: I want to sign my puppy up, but she has not been spayed or microchipped. Am I going to get the discount? When will it apply? Am I going to have to submit a lot of documents? Should I just wait to sign up until after these are done?


First of all, no, do not wait to get the insurance! Puppies are much more likely to have accidents (not just the puddle on the floor kind) or become ill than a slightly older dog - but you probably worked that out already!

If you get the insurance as soon as possible, you can avoid any uninsured conditions popping up that aren't covered.

As an aside, we recently paid out over $4,000 for a six month old Bernese Mountain Dog, Monkey, who had infectious gasterenteritis. The costs were enormous and very unexpected, making the insurance a relief at a very difficult and emotional time. It was just as well they hadn't waited for Monkey to be neutered before insuring  him. 

But back to the rest of the question.

We'll add both the spay/neuter and microchip discounts to your Embrace policy as soon as she has been spayed and/or microchipped. Simply call in (800-511-9172) or email us at hello@embracepetinsurance.com and let us know the microchip number and when the spay was complete. We will update your policy with the discount as soon as you contact us and it will go into effect the next day.

The process applies for pet parents that have paid annually as well as monthly - we'll just give you some of your premium back for the remainder of the prepaid year.

Good to know?

Breed Focus: Golden Retriever

What can I say that hasn't been said about one of the most popular dogs in the US?

  • Jake's a good sport Loved by families and singles alike (what better way to get a date than following along behind a joyful golden in the park?)? 
  • Sunny dispositions to go with their sunny coats? 
  • Active house companions?
  • A goofy and lovable personality?

Yes, all of the above.

My sister Deb has a Golden Retriever called Jake (being a bit goofy above). I remember her calling me at about day 30 of having Jake in the house and she was so overwhelmed with his energy, she was almost at her wits end with him.

It didn't help that Jake liked to sit on her young boys and while amusing for all of about 5 seconds, soon resulted in muffled cries of help as the dog weighed more than the two of them combined. They all hung in there and Jake is a beloved member of the family (even if he insists on you tugging his most ghastly toy squirrel for his amusement) but it was touch and go for a while.

There's also those very serious Golden Retriever health issues to consider as well. Hip dysplasia and cancer definitely are high up on the list as well as entropion and cataracts. Here's a summary from our Pet Health Center:

Golden Retriever health issues 
According to the Morris Animal Foundation:

An estimated 60 percent of these dogs die of cancer, and hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma—which affect many breeds—account for more than 30 percent of the deaths in goldens.

Did you know that?

We cover all these hereditary conditions, including cancer, assuming your golden doesn't already have clinical signs of these.

So if I come across a golden and her human, I always recommend Embrace's Golden Retriever pet insurance. While there's no difference in the Embrace Pet Insurance product for goldens than for other breeds, it seems to me that Embrace Pet Insurance was made for a Golden, don't you think?

Guest Post: senior pets in our lives

Today, we have a guest post from Dr. Rex Riggs, owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is a veterinarian, and an Advisory Board member of Embrace Pet Insurance. Dr. Riggs writes about senior cats and dogs in our lives.

Grey muzzles have always gotten to me. I love seeing the mellow older dogs meandering into the hospital. Most of them have been coming to see me since they were little rambunctious pups. They have become my friends. They walk a little slower and don’t hear as well. Some of them have diabetes and some have bladder problems. Sometimes they can’t see as well and might need help up. No different then us as we age.

Boo When we age we start doing things little different. We tend to go to the doctor more for tests. We tend to watch our diet. We need to take medicines to help with our little incontinences of ageing. We need to do the same for our furry friends. Remember they are tougher then we are. They hide illness and pain much better then we do. I recommend twice a year exam for our older pets.

We need to remember to treat them with respect just as we were taught to treat our elders with respect. They give us so much unconditional love through out there life and all they ask in return is a pat on the head or a belly rub every now and then.

I know how important a dog can be in your life. This summer I lost my old buddy, Boo. She was 14 years old and the best friend you could have. She lived a long happy life.

Do you have an older cat or dog you share your life with?

Related Posts:
September is Senior Pet Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: two aging Pomeranians with arthritis plus other ailments
Guest Post: senior pets in our lives
Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie, and two cats Franklin and Speeder. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and enjoys travel and photography.

Claim Example: two aging Pomeranians with arthritis plus other ailments

Pomeranian courtesy of Chris Cheever, stock.xchng Jordan M could hardly have thought that having 2 Pomeranians in the house would lead to such expensive and ongoing vet bills but Candy and Cinnamon have managed to rack up a total of more than $13,000 between them in just over 2 years! Not bad for two NY state-based 6 year old dogs.

Much of that is from what I called aging dog syndrome and a large part of that is from arthritis treatments - over $3,500. Here is what Candy and Cinnamon have claimed on their Embrace Pet Insurance policies over the last 2.5 years.

Insured Pet Diagnosis Claim Amount Covered Amount Paid Amount Date of Service
Cinnamon dermatitis and anal gland expression 225.00 115.00 0.00 7/12/2008
Cinnamon Contact dermatitis 727.00 708.00 560.70 7/21/2008
Cinnamon ocular dermatitis 178.00 125.00 112.50 11/15/2008
Cinnamon conjunctivitis, dehydration, bilateral patellar luxation, possible asthma 665.00 425.00 202.50 5/23/2009
Cinnamon Gastroenteritis 325.00 325.00 292.50 5/21/2009
Cinnamon Conjunctivitis & Tail Dermatitis 385.00 125.00 112.50 6/27/2009
Cinnamon Cataracts, Bilateral MPL, Dermatitis, Thermbocytosis & Hypothroidism 805.00 475.00 427.50 9/19/2009
Cinnamon Arthritis, Bilateral MPL, Dermatitis, Alopecia, Hypothryroidism and Cataracts 305.00 112.50 101.25 10/24/2009
Cinnamon Arthritis, Bilateral MPL, Dermatitis, Alopecia, Hypothryroidism and Cataracts 325.00 325.00 292.50 11/22/2009
Candy RHE Cruciate Ligament Tear, Mutiple Joints- Inflamed 530.00 500.00 270.00 11/29/2009
Candy RHE Cruciate Ligament Tear, Mutiple Joints- Inflamed 425.00 425.00 382.50 12/5/2009
Cinnamon Corneal Ulcer of Right Eye 425.00 375.00 337.50 12/9/2009
Candy Arthritis, Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear, Muscle Spasm 350.00 350.00 315.00 12/13/2009
Cinnamon Dermatitis Around Vulva & Recheck Corneal Ulcer 300.00 150.00 135.00 12/13/2009
Candy Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear, Osteoarthritis, & Medial Patellar Luxations 325.00 325.00 292.50 1/9/2010
Candy Mild Limping from Previous Injury 225.00 225.00 202.50 2/6/2010
Cinnamon New Skin Condition - Comedones 225.00 225.00 202.50 2/6/2010
Cinnamon Gastroenteritis, Melena, Anemia, & Dehydration 450.00 450.00 405.00 2/28/2010
Candy Bilateral Hind Leg Lameness 475.00 475.00 427.50 2/28/2010
Candy Osteoarthritis from Previous Fall / Injury 225.00 225.00 22.50 4/23/2010
Cinnamon Cystitis, Vulvitis 445.00 400.00 180.00 4/23/2010
Cinnamon Gastroenteritis, Dehydration 285.00 285.00 256.50 4/26/2010
Candy Left Hind Intermittmently Limping, OS Conjunctivitis 365.00 350.00 315.00 5/23/2010
Cinnamon Hypothroidism, Skin Condition Worse, Bladder Sensitivity 330.00 225.00 202.50 5/23/2010
Cinnamon Osteoarthritis Both Knees, Dermatitis 225.00 225.00 202.50 6/21/2010
Candy Osteoarthritis in Back, Hips, & Knees 350.00 350.00 315.00 6/21/2010
Cinnamon Hyperthermia 300.00 300.00 270.00 6/28/2010
Cinnamon Gastroenteritis from Dietary Indiscretion 487.50 487.50 438.75 7/11/2010
Candy Gastroenteritis from Dietary Indiscretion 487.50 487.50 438.75 7/11/2010
Candy Osteoarthritis 405.00 350.00 315.00 7/30/2010
Cinnamon Osteoarthritis 405.00 350.00 315.00 7/30/2010
Cinnamon Osteoarthritis 350.00 350.00 93.50 8/22/2010
Candy Urinary Accidents; dysuria 875.00 875.00 787.50 8/22/2010
Candy Cystic calculi 425.00 425.00 382.50 8/23/2010
    13,630.00 11,920.50 9,606.95  

The arthritis is treated with laser treatments that Embrace covers. Thank goodness for pet insurance!

The difference between the claimed amount and covered charges comes from either miscellaneous items such as Heartguard (covered by the Wellness option that Jordan didn't select) or supplements not covered by the insurance plan or take home drugs (the drug and dental extension was not selected for this policy) 

Jordan just renewed Candy and Cinnamon's policies for their third year and their policy has the following attributes for each dog: $5,000 annual maximum; $200 annual deductible; 10% coinsurance percentage; no drugs and dental option; no wellness coverage.

Total premium per month is $117.41 for both dogs who are now 6 years old.

Related Posts:
September is Senior Pet Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: two aging Pomeranians with arthritis plus other ailments
Guest Post: senior pets in our lives

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