Hey - it's my 1000th post on the Embrace Pet Insurance blog!

It's hard to believe that 999 posts ago, I wrote the first Embrace blog post called "What am I trying to do?" on April 28, 2005. As an entrepreneur, I have no time to look years ahead in the future but I must admit, years ahead, it is certainly darn satisfying to look back.

Just to backtrack, the Embrace blog came about as follows.

Alex Krooglik and I (Laura Bennett) were part of the team that won the 2003 Wharton Business Plan Competition with a pet insurance idea (I know! Who'd have thunk it). Once we graduated, we decided that pet insurance is what we wanted to do with our lives and thus Embrace Pet Insurance was born in July 2003. Several years went by (raising money is a cinch compared to finding an insurance partnership) and we sold our first policy in October 2006. Things keep getting better ever since.

The purpose of this blog was to establish Embrace as experts in pet insurance and to build the Embrace brand as open and honest pet insurance that does exactly what you think pet insurance ought to do. As we noticed back in 2003, that approach seemed rather lacking in the market (and not just pet insurance I might add!)

Did it work? I like to think so.

When Embrace opened its doors for business on October 10, 2006, the blog had been running for 18 months. When Embrace launched, you could only purchase our insurance over the phone and so I wasn't expecting very much in the way of sales at all. After all, who would trust a pet insurance company that didn't even have a functioning online sales module?

Well, the phone did ring right from the start. Modestly of course, but the people who called were the ones that had been waiting for us to get going while reading the blog for a year and a half. That and our moms and friends calling too of course :)

In terms of Embrace, we have come along way but our core values have not changed:

  • Open and honest
    Our number one core value and one I mention more than any other when I'm talking about Embrace. Yes, insurance can care and be trusted!
  • Customer fixation
    No-one is ever just a policy number. We celebrate our pet parents' joys and we cry at their losses. They are our Embraced peeps and our friends
  • Community & environment
    We are part of many larger communities, whether it be where our Embracers live across the country, the pet parent world, or the community of dynamic growing emerging businesses, and we share the wealth everywhere we are
  • Personal responsibility
    Every Embracer takes initiative with their own careers, their role at Embrace, and the Embrace community at large
  • Innovation
    We create value for all involved by the innovative approach we take to our products, our relationships with our Embrace pet parents, and our internal operations. We never assume we're done.
  • Passion
    None of the other core values would be meaningful if we didn't truly care about what we do passionately. We really do wear our slippers at work and do the happy dance in the office. 

The Embrace blog has allowed me to share with you our thoughts and cares at Embrace and a bit of knowledge along the way. Thank you for joining in.

Sincerely,

   Lb signature transparent

Laura Bennett
Chief Embracer & Co-Founder
Embrace Pet Insurance

 



Announcement: Embrace Pet Insurance partners with The International Cat Association TICA

TICA Ooh ooh! Some exciting news I've been dying to share.

We at Embrace Pet Insurance have partnered with The International Cat Association (TICA) to provide discounts and pet health insurance education to TICA's members and pet owners.

Rainbow kitty While I do love dogs (having grown up with many different canine characters through to my adulthood), I've most recently had only cats in the house (young family, young company, neglected husband - no time to care properly for a dog - yet!) so I'm very happy with this relationship. Cats get the short end of the stick when it comes to pet insurance so hopefully our relationship with TICA will change that.

Here's my favorite part of the press release:

"Other organizations have associations with other pet insurance companies but Embrace not only provides what we consider the best insurance coverage compared to other companies, but Embrace also shares the same philosophy about cat welfare as TICA," said Fisher. "That is important to our members and it is why we chose to partner with Embrace."

About The International Cat Association
Organized during 1979, The International Cat Association (TICA) is the world's largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats, largest registry of household pet cats and kittens, and one of the world's largest sanctioning bodies for cat shows. TICA currently recognizes more than 54 breeds of cats. No matter where you are, you’re in TICA’s world. A world of fabulous felines…fun…and friendships. To learn more about TICA visit http://www.tica.org/

Picture courtesy of Emily Krooglik, age 6 (daughter of Alex Krooglik, co-founder of Embrace) - it's her modernistic tribute to her black cat Mila. Don't you think it's awesome?!



Celebrating Embrace Pet Insurance's 3rd anniversary - hello to year 4!

Can you believe it? Three years ago, in October 2006, we sold our first Embrace pet health insurance policy. Yes, it was to cover Lily, my newly rescued cat, but it wasn't too long after that that a brave soul, who wasn't a friend or family or a competitor, also bought an Embrace policy too - much to our delight and amazement.

Embrace Pet Insurance website Oct 2006 We've come a long way from only being able to sell policies over the phone (it was another 6 months before we launched our first e-commerce website) and the only information about our policies was on this very blog. I'm still amazed that people actually picked up the phone and called us to buy a policy. We appreciate it very much.

Much has happened at Embrace over the last 3 years. If you are interested, we have a brief history of Embrace on our website. 

Most importantly though, every Embracer would like to thank YOU, the thousands of pet parents who put your trust in Embrace on behalf of your  cats and dogs. Simply stated, we wouldn't exist without your confidence we will be there when you need us.

I wonder what things will look like for Embrace in another 3 years. What do you think? 



Embrace Pet Insurance joins NAPHIA

Naphia NAPHIA is the North American Pet Health Insurance Association and Embrace is the 5th member to join (see bottom of this post for the other members).

I'm not one for joining organizations (I have better things to be doing with my time right now) but I thought this is one was worth the time and effort.

Pet insurance is only going to grow if pet parents know more about the benefits of pet insurance and we (embrace) can't do it by ourselves.

Pet Health Insurance Association Grows in Robust Market Adding Additional Pedigree to Board of Directors

May 7, 2009 (Pittsburgh, PA) The North American Pet Health Insurance Association(NAPHIA) announced today the addition of Laura Bennett, President and Chief Embracer of Embrace Pet Insurance to its Board of Directors.

According to Loran Hickton, Executive Director of NAPHIA, “Laura Bennett is a champion of pets and their owners. Along with her team, she has built a successful pet health insurance company, while supporting the most positive principals of third party support for better pet care for all pets. Laura is creative and a keenly focused business person who will add significant value to the efforts of our Board.”

Ms. Bennett has over 16 years of insurance industry experience, including her work for The Canada Life Assurance Company in Toronto, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland, where she held a number of different leadership roles in asset-liability management, strategic planning, and business development. Laura holds an honors mathematics degree from the University of Western Ontario, is a qualified life and health actuary, and holds a chartered financial analyst designation. Laura is the only pet health insurance actuary in North America. Laura received her MBA, with a concentration in Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, where she graduated with several university and peer awards. She was also part of the team that won first prize in the Wharton Business Plan Competition in 2003, with an entry for a pet insurance company.

“I am honored to be a member of this distinguished board and I look forward to working with all pet health insurance providers to educate pet parents on the value of pet insurance, and to promote the highest levels of transparency in pet health insurance,” added Laura Bennett.  

“While this difficult economy presents challenges for consumers and pet owners, it is also driving a robust market for pet insurance; in fact, the market in North America is very strong and has grown over 300% in just the past few years,” continued Hickton.

Research by the American Veterinary Medical Association shows that today pets are truly members of the American family. In the United States, for example, about 60% of households have at least one dog, cat, bird, or other companion animal; many have more than one. There are more than 72 million pet dogs in the U.S. and nearly 82 million pet cats. The owners of these pets spent $24.5 billion on veterinary medicine in 2006, more than double their spending of ten years earlier.

The Board of Directors of NAPHIA:

Jack Stephens, DVM, President & Founder, Pets Best Pet Health Insurance

Darryl Rawlings, CEO & Founder, American Pet Insurance Company, Trupanion™ and Vetinsurance™ brands

Dennis Rushovich, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hartville Group, which includes Hartville Pet Health Insurance, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance™, and Petshealth Care Plan™ brands

Randy Valpy, President & COO, SecuriCan, Petsecure Pet Health Insurance

Founded in 2007, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association is committed to educating and promoting the values and benefits of pet health insurance to North American pet owners, the general public, and the veterinary industry.  For more information, visit www.naphia.orgor call 412-319-7730 / 412-908-9766.

Loran Hickton

Executive Director

North American Pet Health Insurance Association



Blog clean up - what I've been up to lately

Some of you may have noticed that I've played around with the look of the Embrace Pet Insurance blog.

No, I haven't changed the mast head, although that's on the list for a future distraction, but I suddenly noticed that my blog had a case of tweak-itis. You know - a tweak here, a tweak there, and all of a sudden, you wind up with a bunch of clutter that distracts from the scintillating topic at hand (that being pet health insurance of course!) 

So, I've done a bit of a spring cleaning (says she, up to her armpits in snow) and focused on minimalism for now - until I tweek it again of course :).

For those of you looking, the list of all the pet insurance companies in the US, Canada, UK and rest of the world are in the Useful Pet Insurance Resources section.

For the other interesting sites, go to the Useful Pet-Related Resources page.

They are both highlighted in the left hand menus.

Cheers!



Funny searches that reach my blog

I always marvel at how people get to my blog - check these out:

  1. plastic surgery procedures gone deadly wrong (in google images - ew!)- wow, that made my heart quicken until I clicked on it and discovered a cute picture of Lily my cat - very bizarre!
  2. why would a cat sneeze - probably the same reason the chicken crossed the road
  3. pet insurance stocks - can't wait for us to go public :)
  4. fun facts about an actuary - see, someone thinks actuaries are fun!
  5. my mom told me to type in vet insurance - quite right too
  6. why is it illegal to spay your pet in norway - I did not know that
  7. who bought a stake in southampton f c - not me
  8. koi pet insurance - I think we'll stick with cats and dogs for now
  9. hamster fun facts - what's not fun about a hamster?

    and the most surprising of all...
  10. Hottub_calvin hottub black girls (also google images) - likely the searcher would be very disappointed to find the cutest picture of Calvin the Labrador Retriever in the hot tub!

Ah, Friday fun!!! Gotta love it.



Millie's Million: center of learning for canine cancer

Cece_at_work We recently received a new claim for lymphoma in a female 3 year old mixed breed dog called Red. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes, which can be treated successfully with chemotherapy.

Red's care, spread over 3 months, has cost $4,300 so far, paying for initial symptoms of panting and overheating to her chemotherapy treatments. There will be further follow up care, likely putting the total vet bill for her lymphoma over $5,000.

In cases like this though, while the cost is incredibly high, the emotional toll cannot be underestimated. In my post on Coping With Your Dog's Cancer, I mentioned Millie's Million, an organization that helps pet parents learn about and cope with their dog's cancer. 

Debbie Celli, the force behind Millie's Million, knows from person experience with her dog Millie how difficult it can be to comprehend what is happening and to connect with people who have gone through the same thing.

For example, check out the video section as a great resource from veterinarians and pet parents alike on the realities of canine cancer.

There, veterinarians from the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital talk about:

  • the various forms of cancer and treatments
  • cancer from a surgical standpoint
  • what you can do if you can't afford traditional cancer treatment or what you can do in addition to them

In addition, there are videos from pet parents sharing their stories:

  • a dog's amputation due to cancer
  • a successful journey with Lymphoma
  • mentoring people through their dogs' cancer

As well as the video center, you can sign up for canine cancer mentorship and delve into other canine cancer resources online.

If you are going through cancer with your dog or know someone who is, Millie's Million is a great resource during a very emotional time.

Related Posts:
What is Osteosarcoma in dogs and cats?
Toe tumors;
My cat or dog is limping;
And a beautiful story of dog cancer, friendship and caring in Grace's story and Grace's eulogy.



Competition for bloggers

If you aren't a blogger, you can just skip this message.

And for the bloggers, do I have the biggest and bestest competition for you! Problogger is having it's $54,000 Problogger Birthday Bash competition with all sorts of prizes to be won over the coming week.

Make sure to pop over there to see what's happening - you might even win something awesome.



Let's see some comments folks!

Some bloggers were lamenting that there seem to be fewer people commenting on blogs these days and of course, decided to take some action - hence The Great Mofo Delurk 2007 day. The idea is to stop lurking and show your favorite blogs some love by commenting. What an awesome idea!

So today I'm pledging to comment on ten blogs (meaningful comments, not just "Yo man - what a great entry" or something uninspiring like that) - what are you planning to do?

(and if you are reading this the day after through the email subscription, go comment anyway - it's still the same day for you!)

I'll post the blogs I commented on by the end of the day. Have fun!

Blogs commented on today are:

  1. Average Jane
  2. Church of the Customer
  3. Pet Connection
  4. Embrace Pet Community
  5. Re:invention
  6. Carissa Blog
  7. Money Rules, Debt Stinks
  8. I Quit for LIJIT
  9. The Chocolate Dog Blog
  10. Itchmo
  11. Hola Isabel (OK, I couldn't stop at 10)
  12. Pet Connection (again)

OK, done for the moment. I'm sure I'll add a few more comments as the day progresses. How are your comments coming along?



Terrier Man gets provocative on pet insurance

One of the things I spend much too much time doing every day is browsing my RSS blog reader (I use Sharpreader if anyone cares). I tend to graze through the 100+ blogs I subscribe to, picking up themes, memes, and goodies along the way. I love the contrast that the different perspectives throw up at me.

Simply_recipes_peasaladsmokedalmond Take for example Simply Recipes and Future Memes (two blogs I discovered from Blogher 2007) - one is eye candy for a foodie (along with very good recipes and chit chat to go with it - the total drool package) and the other is an intellectual exploration of futuristic themes. They are right next to each other and they make my brain spin (in a good way).

Terrierman_pattandjack In my pet category, I have just as much diversity with Invisible Voices at one end (written by a vegan) and Terrier Man (a blog about working terriers). As you can imagine, they don't quite go together as is demonstrated by the following excerpt from one of these blogs (guess which one!):

...An office mate found this clip on YouTube, and apparently it was shot just up the road in Sterling, Virginia. The groundhog appears to have been caught above ground in a trash pile by a pretty well-fed and not too experienced Jack Russell who is having a lot of fun. Music by Offspring. For those who find this gruesome, my best advice is to get over it. This is how groundhogs die when caught by coyotes, and how rabbits die when caught by a fox. What, you mean fox and coyote eat . . . meat? I though they were vegans! As for groundhogs, they are an agricultural pest, and are around in such huge numbers that it is open season, unlimited take in this state.

Diversity rules!

But I digress... I encourage you to go over to Terrierman's blog post about pet insurance:

Pet Insurance:
With insurance, the big print always seems to provide coverage, but the little print always seems to limit that coverage or void it altogether. Now consider pet insurance. When a pet insurance company denies your claim or pays out only fragmentary coverage, your only option is to hire a $10,000 lawyer in order to litigate a $2,000 claim. Not likely. So what do you do? You pay the vet, walk away bruised, and the Pet Insurance company pockets your premums and laughs all the way to the bank. Don't believe that's what happens most of the time? Then read what people with pet insurance have to say. Has anyone ever had a good experience with pet insurance? If so, tell us in the comments section (and sign it!).

Coffeedog2 So please do go comment on Terrierman's blog about your experiences with pet insurance - good and bad (and sign it!). I'm sure there will be a number of horror stories but there are pet insurance companies that pay out what they promised and there are happy policyholders (check out www.petinsurancereview.com to find a few).

After all, why would over 600,000 (and growing) cats and dogs be insured in the US? Are their pet parents just masochists? Oblivous? What do you think?

Related Posts on Invisible Voices
Invisible Voices blog entries on pet insurance
Evangelism at its best
"Mo’s How-to guide on getting the most out of pet insurance" on Invisible Voices
If you have a cat...