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Average vet bills by age for dog

When we were first looking at pet insurance 10 years ago, I analyzed the average total vet bill for a mixed breed dog by age to see what it would look like and here it is.

Interesting don't you think?

What's even more interesting is that the average total vet bill does not include wellness visits! The vaccinations, spay and neuter and puppy wellness checks are not included.

So while you might have thought it might make sense for a puppy to have a lot of vet bills in it's early years because of all the shots she has to have, this graph does not include those costs. (BTW, the cat graph looks very similar.)

Even more interesting now, don't you think?

Still don't think you need pet insurance in a dog's early years?

I rest my case.

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Press Release: Embrace Pet Insurance Swims Upstream To Add Goldfish Coverage to Its Product Range

Embrace is tapping into the world of fish parents who care for the 75 million goldfish in America

Mayfield Village, OH – Embrace Pet Insurance swims against the tide, adding goldfish health insurance coverage to its customizable product range.


Now that Embrace Pet Insurance is intimately familiar with the cat and dog health insurance market in the US, the company is leveraging its actuarial and insurance knowledge and is announcing its new customizable goldfish insurance product.


Laura Bennett, Embrace co-founder and the only goldfish insurance actuary in the US, explains the rational for such a move. “Goldfish might seem to be one dimensional and unfeeling pets to the uninitiated, but underneath their scaly exterior, they really have a heart of gold. Those who welcome goldfish into their family reap a lifetime of emotion from these loving pets.”


Embrace Pet Insurance Goldfish Mortality Table Bennett developed goldfish mortality and morbidity actuarial tables based on her own lifetime of experience raising the domesticated fish. “Yes, there’s a large drop off when you bring them home from the fair, but if they survive the initial shock, they settle in quite well. I loved many goldfish in our house growing up. I particularly remember my third goldfish, Jonathan, who lived to the ripe old age of 12 years. I’m sure he would have lived several years longer if our cat Lily hadn’t finally found out that cats aren’t actually allergic to water. That was a very sad day in our household.”


Embrace goldfish insurance covers hereditary conditions such as swim bladder and telescopic eye problem (as long as they aren’t showing clinical signs before you purchase your insurance). The insurance also covers a variety of treatments for goldfish illnesses, from antibiotics for dropsy, to weight reduction programs for overfeeding, to amputation surgery for fin rot.


Bennett says “Most people have no idea how expensive it can be to treat some of these every-day conditions. Fin amputation surgeries can range anywhere from $500 using aquarium sedatives, a fish net, and a pair of nail scissors, to $15,000 for a board certified specialist using a specialized breathing table developed for fish. Gone are the days of flushing a goldfish down the toilet (also known as economic euthanasia). Veterinarians can do so much more for goldfish than they used to, even 5 years ago.”


Goldfish premium rates range from as little as $2 up to $56 a month and are based on a number of factors such as fish age (have your veterinarian give you an estimate if you aren’t sure of your goldfish’s exact date of birth), location (fish vets in NY city are so much more expensive than those in Fargo MN); and breed (the overbred Ekoj hybrid is particularly sickly) all affect the premium. You can also get a multi-pet discount, although having a family cat dramatically increases the rate.


If you love your goldfish as much as we do, Embrace Pet Insurance recommends goldfish insurance for your finned friends. It’s the one thing you can’t buy when you need it. To explore your goldfish insurance options, call 800-511-9172, or go to for a customized quote.


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IStock_000007063182XSmallrev About Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance Agency LLC is a specialist insurance agency headquartered in Mayfield Village, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Embrace was founded by Laura Bennett and Alex Krooglik, pet parents who also happen to be insurance experts, and offers self-serve, customizable pet health insurance for dogs and cats, and now goldfish. All goldfish policies are underwritten by Carp Health Assurance Company. Embrace is based on the core values of innovation and not taking oneself too seriously. On the web at Embrace Pet Insurance and the Embrace Pet Insurance blog.  


Addendum: if you didn't notice by now, this was posted on April Fool's Day. Just a little pet insurance humor for the day :)

Do we see Geico Pet Insurance on the horizon?

Richard Zatorski, a consulting actuary writing for the American Academy of Actuaries magazine, Contingencies, recently wrote an article on innovation in insurance. He starts off:

The insurance industry has rarely been known for its creativity and foresight with regard to the emerging needs of its customers. In fact, many recent policy changes have been attempts to clarify what isn’t covered as opposed to giving consumers more and better features to choose from.

Anyone living in Florida or on the gulf coast needing home owners insurance knows all about that.

He then goes on to talk about microtrends - "intense identity groups that are growing and have needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies and marketers." (the book he references is Mark Penn’s book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes if you are interested in the topic.)

So I was gratified to see he picked up on pet insurance as one of these trends in insurance.

Veterinary Pet Insurance in Brea, Calif., and Embrace Pet Insurance in Cleveland are among those companies that currently offer comprehensive health insurance products for pets, but considering all those childless couples, empty nesters, and retirees for whom the pet has become a true family member, this area may be ripe for further exploration.

Someday, that ever-present gecko may become the official spokesanimal for policies covering pet life insurance, funeral expenses, and maybe even genetic cloning to replace dear old Fido in a way never before possible.

Now that would be something - Geico Pet Insurance. Perhaps I could do the voice of a talking British dog for that one :)

The rest of the article goes on to talk about other niche insurance products - you'll just have to read the article Why Didn't I Think of That? to find out what they are.

The Actuary's Prayer

As ode to the actuarial pet insurance work I'm doing today, I give you The Actuary's Prayer:

The ACTUARY's PRAYER (ver 3.01)

Our model, which art in nowhere.
Guessing be thy name.
Thy assumptions come,
Thy will be done in future as it was in the past.
Give us this day our premium rates,
and forgive us our lousy estimates,
as we forgive those who supply us with crappy data.
Lead us not into insolvencies, and deliver us from auditors.
For thine is the #NAME?, #DIV/0!, and #VALUE!,
forever and ever.


I've no idea who wrote it (likely an actuarial student who was supposed to be studying...) but if you are an actuary, you'll get a good laugh out of it...

And now back to our regular programming....

Actuarial Pioneer: Laura Bennett, pet insurance actuary

Cool_headshotSoa_new The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has been building a list of the top 100 actuarial "Pioneers" as part of building the awareness of the actuarial field. To be on it, you have to be "an actuary who has blazed a trail for actuaries by creating a new application for actuarial science, or one who is among the first to apply the actuarial skill set in a non-traditional setting."

I think that pet insurance certainly qualifies in that category, don't you? And nicely enough, so does the SOA. Cool!

So, I did an actuarial Pioneer interview with the SOA a few months ago (it just went online) about the impact that being an actuary has had on my career, among other things. It's a bit of a fun mish-mash of tidbits about Embrace and me. Maybe it will inspire some aspiring actuaries to spread their wings, who knows?

I really liked the quote they selected out to highlight the whole article: " ... the smallest kindness in business goes an incredibly long way and it more often than not brings you benefits you could never have planned for." I really believe that - do you?

BTW, the picture above is not the picture I gave them for the article (this one was taken afterwards for a friend of Embrace) but I would really have loved to have used it instead of the goofy "corporate" one I sent instead. Oh well. Must get my "official" photos reshot!

What is an actuary?


Someone once told me that an actuary is a "pension engineer", which frightened the bejesus out of me as I was contemplating doing the actuarial science degree at the time (I did a pure mathematics one instead - much more exciting!)

So, if you are wondering what on earth an actuary is, here's a much better description from Society of Actuaries' What is an Actuary:

The future is full of uncertainty. Some of the events that can happen are undesirable. "Risk" is the possibility that an undesirable event will occur. Actuaries are experts in:

  • evaluating the likelihood of future events,
  • designing creative ways to reduce the likelihood of undesirable events,
  • decreasing the impact of undesirable events that do occur.

The impact of undesirable events can be both emotional and financial. Reducing the likelihood of these events helps relieve emotional pain. But some events, such as death, cannot be totally avoided. So, reducing their financial impact is very important. Actuaries are the leading professionals in finding ways to manage risk. It takes a combination of strong analytical skills, business knowledge and understanding of human behavior to design and manage programs that control risk.

Wikipedia also has a good Actuary entry too.

As you can see, this description is extremely relevent for being a pet insurance actuary because there's really no other insurance that I know of that people get so emotional about. What do you think?

BTW, another tidbit about being an actuary - the actuarial profession has consistently been rated as one of the top five jobs in the United States according to Jobs Rated Almanac. To learn more about this, click here.

And finally, there are many actuary jokes since actuaries are stereotyped as being more boring than accountants (so we must be bad!) Here's one of my favorites to keep you amused:

What is the difference between an introverted actuary and an extroverted actuary? An introverted actuary stares at his own feet during a conversation, while an extroverted one stares at the other person's feet.

I left the male reference in the joke because there are still more men than women in the profession. Check out this site for more groaners.

The only full-time pet insurance actuary?

There aren't that many actuaries in the world, and there aren't that many people working on pet insurance full-time either, so when you put that together, you get only one actuary who works full-time on pet insurance - that's me (as far as I know).

Laura_on_her_first_birthdayI've been doing this for a while now and have not found anyone else to share this honor with anywhere. So please, if you know of any more actuaries who are working on pet insurance full-time anywhere in the world, get her/him to step forward (either through the comments or email me if you are shy) and reveal himself/herself. It would be fun to share war stories.

(that's me by the way, age 1)

Can an actuary be cool?

I just happened to come across this ad for Microsoft that mentions an actuary on the Society of Actuaries' website.

Imagine a geeky guy in a suit enthusiastically talking about this new idea for a comic book action hero he has - accountant by day, crime-solving mathematician with laser vision by night - all powered by Microsoft products, and there you have it. Not sure who the ad is aimed at but it certainly isn't me! 

Now, I'm off to use my laser vision to see what the future holds for us all... Back soon.

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