Dilemma: Premiums increase as pets age

The saying “better with age” applies to wine and fine cheeses, but probably has never been said about pet insurance premiums. While Embrace will never reduce the coverage for aging pets, the premiums do go up a bit each year as our pets get older to account for the increasing risk of illness. While it’s good news that your coverage remains reliable even as your pet’s health begins to decline, the increase serves as more than just a reminder that your pet is getting on in years and can have some pet parents reconsidering the cost-benefit of their coverage.

Ditto - BeagleDitto - 2006

This was the case for the pet parent of Ditto, a 10 year old Beagle originally from Cleveland, OH and now living in Seattle, WA. Ditto was one of the first Embraced pets back in 2006 and we enjoyed getting photos and updates from this young lady. Fast forward to 2014 and Ditto’s rates have increased, despite her being relatively healthy. Her most recent increase was roughly 20%, an increase her pet parent felt was “steep” and he wrote in looking for advice on what to do with her coverage. While hesitant to drop the coverage, he seemed to wonder if it made sense to continue with the current coverage as is.

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Podcast: Experts talk on Pet Insurance

It’s National Pet Insurance month and when you want to learn about all things pet insurance, you go to the experts. We’re still waiting for the day when Laura Bennett is asked to do a TEDtalk on pet insurance, but in the meantime, listen in as she and Dr. Patrick Mahaney answer your questions on everything from top claims to alternative therapies.

Laura shares with us:

  • What is the (estimated) number or percentage of pet owners in the U.S. who have insurance for their pets?
  • What are Embrace’s top canine and feline health claims?
  • What are the main reasons pet owners give for establishing health insurance for their cats and dogs?
  • Why should a pet owner get pet insurance (ability to have pet undergo diagnostics, treatment, etc.)?
  • Does the typical pet owner keep their pet on Embrace insurance throughout the pet's life?
  • Does Embrace cover any pre-existing conditions?
  • Does Embrace cover complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, etc.?

And, Dr. Mahaney tells us what veterinarians think about pet insurance and how it has changed over recent years.

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What Impacts Your Pet Insurance Premium? (And What Doesn’t)

We’re all pretty clear on what can impact your car insurance premiums (speeding, causing an accident, or driving under the influence) or health insurance premiums (smoking, obesity, and age). But, when it comes to your cat or dog’s Embrace premium, a lot of factors are considered to determine the cost. What you pay for your Lab likely won’t be the same as what your neighbor pays for her Pomeranian, or even what your in-laws pay for their Labrador in another state. Some of the factors are things you can control. Some aren’t.

Pet Insurance PremiumFirstly, I’d like to rule out a few common assumptions about things that some people think affect their premium. Contrary to popular belief, these items do not directly impact premium:

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Guest Post: “Why should I get pet health insurance?”

“Why should I get pet health insurance?” I hear that from clients all the time. My answer….”Why wouldn’t you get pet health insurance?” What is the downside?

There are many misunderstandings about what pet health insurance is. It is not like our health insurance. It is not managed care. Pet health insurance is more like car insurance. Car insurance is there when you need it, so you do not have a big out-of-pocket cost if something happens to your car. The same goes for your pet with pet health insurance. They are both indemnity insurance, which by definition is “protection or insurance against future loss or damage.”

Vet Pet InsuranceI do think some of the hesitation about pet health insurance among vets comes from their experiences with the earliest companies. They were horrible. They were poor payers of claims and customer service was dismal. The clients would get mad at the company and also at the vet for recommending such a terrible thing! Those companies are still out there, so you still need to research the company you are going to use. A great resource is petinsurancereview.com. This site is similar to Angie’s List. They use customer reviews to rate the various companies. You can tell by the ratings which companies to avoid. It just so happens that Embrace is one of the highest rated!

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September is Pet Health Insurance Month

Ah, it’s that time of year again, Pet Health Insurance Month. (What, did you think I was excited for - back to school and all things pumpkin spice?) It’s a time when us pet insurance geeks are allowed to be a little extra giddy about things like diminishing deductibles and multiple pet discounts. I mean, sure, here at Embrace HQ we’re passionate about pet insurance 365 days a year. But Pet Health Insurance Month is when we get to let our fiscal freak flags fly, if you will.

NAPHIA BannerWe’re pulling out all the stops to celebrate too. This month we’ll hear from Dr. Rex Riggs about how pet insurance prevents financial euthanasia in his practice. I’ll have exciting details about our new and improved age guidelines. We’ll also take a look at some common misconceptions about what pet insurance is and how it works.

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When it’s time...to Remove a Pet from your Pet Insurance Policy

When I read this post that Embracer Lea wrote, I had a heavy heart and a tear in my eye. I've known Lyger as long as I've known Lea and he's been a wonderful part of Embrace's history.

It's hard to think you would ever drop your pet insurance policy for your older dog. What do you think about Lea's decision below?


Back in 2006 when I started with Embrace as one of just two employees, we weren’t even selling policies yet--just getting ready to.  But when the big day rolled around come October, we all jumped up and celebrated, then set to selling each other our very first insurance policies. Lyger, then just a six year old nutball who would sneak into the board meetings of our office neighbors, was among the first to be “embraced”.  We set him up with the “$5,000 max/$200 deductible/80% reimbursed” plan.

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Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney and Laura Bennett talk pet insurance

Laura May 2013This time, the tables are turned and Dr Patrick Mahaney asks me, Laura Bennett, CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance (EPI), questions on the topic of pet insurance. It is after all, Pet Health Insurance Month.

Questions covered are:

  • What is the (estimated) number or percentage of pet owners in the U.S. who have insurance for their pets?
  • What are EPI’s top canine and feline health claims?
  • What are the main reasons pet owners give for establishing health insurance for their cats and dogs?
  • Why should a pet owner get pet insurance?
  • Does the typical pet owner keep their pet on Embrace's insurance throughout the pet's life?
  • Does EPI cover any pre-existing conditions?
  • Does EPI cover complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, and so on?

Click on the link below for the podcast.

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Guest Post: Veterinary Perspective on Pet Insurance

In Pet Health Insurance Month, Dr Riggs weighs in with his veterinary perspective on pet insurance.


If you talk to a number of vets about pet insurance, you will get many different opinions. There are many vets, like myself who have researched and done my due diligence, and see it as a win/win/win situation for the client, the vet, and most importantly the pet.

Some vets think pet insurance is evil, and the industry is trying to control veterinary medicine and tell us how to practice medicine, as it has human insurance.

Then you have the third group…"there’s pet insurance???"

It is true the early pet insurance companies were not very good. I initially had bad experiences with pet insurance myself.  This is where the newer pet insurance companies started to pop up, and thrive.  The newer companies, such as Embrace, have looked at Sweden, United Kingdom, and other parts of the world to see how to develop a new model.  In the United Kingdom, it is estimated around 25% of pet owners have pet insurance as opposed to the United States , where less than 1% have pet insurance.  The newer companies, have great customer service, quick claim payments, and almost nothing for the vet to fill out.  They truly have learned from others' past mistakes.

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Embrace in the news

We've had a lot of excellent press coverage at Embrace lately. Some of the good coverage because of our recent change in ownership, and some of it just because.

Our recent change in ownership is our most exciting update since we changed our underwriter to American Modern Insurance Company ® a year ago.

Before I get into details of the transaction, the bottom line is that:

  • Embrace is staying and growing in northeast Ohio,
  • we are remaining independent from other insurance organizations, and
  • we will continue to provide the great Embrace experience you've come to know from us. Nothing is going to change that way.

As for details, there's a great Plain Dealer article on the transaction "Embrace Pet Insurance Finds Success Keeping Tails Wagging". A private investor with deep experience in the insurance world, Beauvest (US), acquired all the shares of Embrace except for those belonging to me (Laura Bennett) and Alex Krooglik (we're the co-founders). Once that was complete, five of the original investors bought back in, indicating their continued confidence in Embrace and Alex and me (which was very much appreciated by all of us.)

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Claim story: Ozzie's "perfect storm of a stomach" surgery

Today, we have a claim story from Embrace's Claims Manager, Chris Wrona. She has recently gone through over $12,000 of veterinary bills and two health crises with her dogs and shares her story here.


Ozzie 1My little boy, Ozzie, has had a rough couple of months and I’m so very thankful for Embrace. I’m the type of pet parent who will go to the ends of the earth if I know it can help my fur kids and I’ve been in the extremely difficult situation of not having an insurance policy in effect when my fur kids got sick. This was well before Embrace and I will never be without Embrace insurance again.  Prior to having insurance for my other pets,  I worked multiple jobs to pay off the debt  from their unexpected, uninsured medical expenses. I don’t have to worry about the expense now that I have Embrace insurance and can strictly focus on the best care that is needed. 

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