January 02, 2014
I'm so happy to announce that Embrace is partnering with Dr Marty Becker, also known as America's Veterinarian, to spread the word far and wide about Embrace's affordable and effective pet insurance to prevent economic euthanasia when cats and dogs get sick.
I first met Dr Marty in 2011 when he came through Cleveland on his cross-country tour supporting his book "Your Dog: The Owner's Manual". He was meeting and greeting dog owners who had come to meet him and I was struck by how he personally connected with his fans, sharing a special tip for each person's situation like they had been friends for years.
Since then, I can see why Dr Marty has the impact he does - his care for pets and his actions to improve their lives is truly sincere, something I always wonder about with celebs who make money off what they say. Dr Marty is making a difference in the lives of pets and I'm delighted Embrace is now part of that mission.
Our official press release is here http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/americas-veterinarian-teams-up-with-embrace-pet-insurance-to-reduce-economic-euthanasia-238428041.html
Check out the Dr Marty Becker Amazon page for his very useful books on pet ownership.
About Dr Marty Becker:
Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian,” has spent his life working toward better health for pets and the people who love them.
Dr. Becker was the resident veterinary contributor on “Good Morning America” for 17 years. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the American Humane Association as well as its Chief Veterinary Correspondent, a founding member of Core Team Oz for “The Dr. Oz Show,” and a member of the Dr. Oz Medical Advisory Panel.
He has written 22 books that have sold more than 7 million copies, including three New York Times best-sellers — one of which is the fastest-selling pet book of all time, “Chicken Soup for the Pet-Lovers Soul.” He has been a contributor to Parade magazine, Reader‚Äôs Digest and AARP.org. Animal Radio hosts him monthly as their Chief Veterinary Correspondent.
Dr. Becker is an adjunct professor at his alma mater, the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and also at the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine at both Colorado State University and the University of Missouri. Additionally, he has lectured at every veterinary school in the United States.
A passionate advocate for the human-animal bond, Dr. Becker serves as an adjunct professor at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He is an honorary board member of Pet Partners and the Humane Society of New York, as well as a past board member and strong supporter of his local pet rescue group, Second Chance Animal Adoption of Bonner Ferry, ID, as well as a supporter of the Panhandle Animal Shelter in Sandpoint, ID, the Kootenai Humane Society in Coeur d’Alene, ID, and the Whitman County Humane Society in Pullman, WA.
Dr. Becker also serves as the Chief Veterinary Correspondent for the American Humane Association, with a strong focus on supporting their efforts to end the use of gas chambers in animal shelters, a cause for which he has successfully advocated since his earliest days as a veterinarian. His special fondness for older pets has led him to a spot on the Advisory Board of The Grey Muzzle Organization, which is dedicated to helping homeless senior dogs.
He practices, when his schedule allows, at Lakewood Animal Hospital and North Idaho Animal Hospital in north Idaho because he loves veterinary medicine, pets and the people who care for them.
July 18, 2013
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 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.)
So, for Alex and me, we are still as invested in Embrace as we were before (no Tesla for me this time around!) and we will continue to run Embrace as we have all these years. We also have a very long-term investor who has no particular time horizon for this investment. It's as perfect as it could have been.
The other part of the transaction is that we locked in our underwriting partnership with American Modern for another 5 years, which I am absolutely delighted about. Not only does that give me great comfort that I won't be looking for another underwriter any time soon, but also, the American Modern folks are a great group of guys and gals backed by the solid support of their owner, Munich Re, the largest reinsurance company in the world.
It's tough to say goodbye to Jumpstart, who got us off the ground, and NCT Ventures, who invested a significant sum back in October 2008 during one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression. Both organizations have supported us for many years and we would not be here without them.
Having said that, I will continue to be very active with Jumpstart, encouraging and supporting other entrepreneurs in northeast Ohio. Personally, I'm delighted that the proceeds from Jumpstart's investment in Embrace will go towards other new companies in the area. Got to love that flywheel!
As for that other press we've been getting:
- COSE magazine profiled Embrace along with two other local entrepreneurial companies, highlighting the exciting entrepreneurial environment here in NEO (and I got to be on the cover - woohoo!)
- Scene Magazine did an extensive article on entrepreneurship in Cleveland in the article "Startup City" mentioning Embrace as well
- Embrace was recently listed as one of 20 Cool Tech Companies in Cleveland
- I recently participated in a Jumpstart podcast "For Entrepreneurs, By Entrepreneurs" discussing the importance of culture and opportunities created for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, many of which are focused on peer networking and education.
Definitely exciting times! Onwards and upwards.
Your Chief Embracer,
September 01, 2012
Let's talk about pet insurance!
Many of you know, I am the Chairperson of the Board of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) where our goal is to increase awareness and trust of pet health insurance across North America. Pet insurance has been around for over 30 years in the US but less than 1% of cats and dogs are insured. Compare this to over 25% insured in the UK and you'll understand our goal more clearly.
There are many what I call structural differences between the two countries so will pet insurance ever reach 25% cats and dogs insured in the US? I doubt it.
Americans just aren't as enamoured with insurance as the Brits and the rules around advertising and regulation of insurance in the US are rather onerous compared to the UK.
I can see us doing much much better to provide great benefits to pet parents who want the flexibility to provide care for their pets in times of financial need rather than putting them down. How about 10% anyone?
So every year, the pet insurance industry highlights pet insurance in September to increase awareness and to talk with pet parents across North America about the benefits it can bring to their household, both in financial and emotional terms.
On the Embrace blog in September, I will talk about different aspects of pet insurance and the benefits and go over the Embrace policies and how they can work for you. We will even have some stories of those with pet insurance and those who wish they'd had pet insurance.
Please feel free to add your comments and experiences with pet insurance as well.
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix
August 15, 2012
When I announced the Embrace Pet Insurance move to our new underwriter, American Modern, I promised to tell you about our new diminishing deductible feature, also known as the Healthy Pet DeductibleTM.
If it sounds familiar, it's probably because you have seen quite a few TV ads from several large auto insurers with their own versions of the deductible reducing every year of claims-free driving. The Embrace Healthy Pet Deductible is very similar - if you go a year without any claims paid out for your pet, your next year's annual deductible reduces by $50 and so on every year, until you reach a $0 deductible.
Embrace is the first pet insurer in the world to offer this feature.
The point is not to discourage you from sending in your claims but to offer encouragement for those pet parents whose pets stay healthy and are not using their Embrace policy to stick around for when they ultimately will need their pet insurance.
It just kills me when someone cancels their policy because they haven't used it for 3 years and then call in 6 months later asking if we'd cover an accident or illness that has occured after the insurance was stopped. I never want that to happen again.
For specifics, you can learn more on our Health Pet DeductibleTM webpage. For example, it is only available to those policies underwritten by American Modern so you'll have to wait until your policy coverts over to start earning those credits.
In the meantime, here's an example that I put together on how it works.
Consider a multi-pet policy with my cats Rocket (annual deductible $500) and Rosie (annual deductible $200).
Year 1 – one covered claim for Rocket of $300 and one for Rosie for $300 as well.
- Since Rocket’s claim is under her $500 deductible, there is no claim payout; therefore, Rocket accumulates a $50 deductible credit for year 2.
- Rosie’s claim, however, is over her $200 deductible so there will be a claim payout in year 1; therefore, Rosie will not accumulate any deductible credits for year 2.
Year 2 – another covered claim for Rocket of $600 and no claims for Rosie.
- Rocket’s claim is over her deductible ($500 - $50 = $450), so there is a claim payout; therefore, Rocket will not accumulate any deductible credits for year 3 and her accumulated deductible credits are reset to zero.
- Since Rosie has no claims in year 2, she accumulates $50 in deductible credits for year 3.
If we rewrote the example this way, you can see how the Healthy Pet Deductible accumulates:
Year 2 – another covered claim for Rocket but this time for $300 and no claims for Rosie.
- Rocket’s claim is under her deductible ($500 - $50 = $450), so there is no claim payout; therefore, Rocket accumulates another $50 to make her total deductible credits equal to $100 for year 3.
- Since Rosie has no claims in year 2, she accumulates $50 of Deductible Dollars for year 3.
So if you claim, you get reimbursed (if it's above the deductible) and if you don't (it's below the deductible), you get a credit.
What's not to like about that?
Embrace has a new insurance partner - A+ rated American Modern Home Insurance Company
July 31, 2012
As of today, Embrace is selling American Modern Home Insurance Company pet insurance policies in 38 states (see the list on the Embrace's Underwriter page). We are in the process of rolling out all 51 jurisdicitions we work in, so if your state isn't on the list, it will be very soon.
Why are we changing insurance underwriters?
The usual thing that comes to mind when you hear a company changing underwriters is that something has gone amiss with the partnership between the pet insurance program and the underwriter; however, in the case of Embrace Pet Insurance leaving RLI, quite the opposite is true.
In our case, RLI loved the Embrace program so much, they wanted to buy us. Unfortunately, we couldn't come to agreement on the terms and when we agreed to disagree, we then felt it better that Embrace move on to find another underwriting partner. So sad! It's kind of like after you propose to your sweetheart and she turns you down, you don't keep dating, as much as you might want to.
We are very grateful and appreciative of the partnership and support RLI has given us over the last three years. We did make great partners, if I do say so myself.
And now we are transitioning over to American Modern and it's going very smoothly.
Who is American Modern?
I am absolutely delighted to partner with the folks over at the American Modern Insurance Group (AMIG). Here are my top 5 reasons for partnering with AMIG, from the most obvious down to the most important:
- AMIG's subsidiaries that we are working with are A+rated by AM Best, meaning that they have a superior ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations, a most important characteristic if you want a company that is going to be there in the future when you need it the most.
- AMIG is owned by Munich Re, which is one of the world's largest reinsurance companies, with annual premium income of about $62 billion. Munich Re operates in all lines of insurance, with around 47,000 employees throughout the world. What does that all mean? Financial stability and a highly trusted brand, which runs down through all of their companies.
- AMIG is a specialty insurance company serving niche or underserved markets. So they know how to handle focused marketplaces and knows what it takes to succeed.
- AMIG has a history of family-driven entrepreneurship and I still feel that from the everyone I have met there. This get-it-done attitude continues to be very important to me because I want and need an insurance partner that is going to understand the entpreneurial culture at Embrace.
- AMIG has very strong work ethic and a lot of smart people who are wonderful to work with. Again, I need a good partner with people who work as a team, get things done, and who have fun doing it. In my opinion, that leads to building the most value for all involved (from the pet parent to the underwriter) and that's a good thing for everyone.
I expect the transition to be seamless for our Embraced pet parents but it's always good to share the background of why this change has happened so you feel comfortable with our new underwriter.
I will go over the changes to the policies in my next post. *spoiler alert* They are minimal.
Chief Embracer & Co-Founder
Embrace Pet Insurance
Embrace has a new insurance partner - A+ rated American Modern Home Insurance Company
Embrace's new Healthy Pet Deductible
July 19, 2012
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
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.
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.
Chief Embracer & Co-Founder
Embrace Pet Insurance
July 18, 2012
As a company obsessed with our relationship with our Embraced pet parents, we have been going through a painful experience over the last few months as we work to improve our claims process.
To put it plainly, the time it takes to process an Embrace claim has been far too long and in many cases well over the 15 business days we promise our pet parents. This is not like Embrace; not like us at all.
In the spirit of openness and honesty, I thought I'd go over how this happened and what we are doing about it so everyone is in the loop. This is not about excuses (because in the end, it's just not good enough; there are no excuses long enough for that), I'm just presenting the situation as it happened and what you can expect going forward.
During Spring 2012 and through until now, we've experienced a backlog of claims that was initiated by a system change that went through in February. That change temporarily slowed down our document processing (to slower than molasses - it was so awful), which diverted our claims folks from claims processing to claims staging in an effort to help work through that queue.
That initial slowdown (that lasted about a month - ack!) led to a back up in open claims; that, combined with the very nice growth we've had in our number of insured pets in 2012, meant we had a much larger backlog than we have been staffed for, which you have been experiencing ever since, and we've been working on quashing as best we can.
We have now reduced that backlog to the point where we are within the 15 business days for most claims (finally!), but we continue to push hard to get to our internal standard of 10 business days. We're not there yet though.
Where do we go from here?
In the short term, we are hiring more staff to cope with continued growth (know of any veterinary technicians interested in a change in the Cleveland area?) but we've also started a major overhaul of how we handle our claims to make things much faster, more consistent, and with fewer Embracers needed, but with the same personal but professional approach you have come to know us for.
To put the claims process in perspective, while everything we do is electronic, greatly helping the physical management of a claim, there are far too many electronic places to gather information from and far too many clicks needed to get a claim through from the original fax received to processed and completed. This is what we are focusing on.
Where are we in our overhaul process?
We have had some mini releases over the last month that has helped a few areas but our first big release will be early September. That release should have a significant impact on reducing the amount of time to close a claim. And this is just phase 2 of the overall claims process review (Phase 1 was the document handling capabilities we started off with early in 2012); the plans for further phases continue to develop.
So that's where we are at. The Embrace claims process is our number one priority internally through to the end of the year and likely beyond.
Feel free to talk about your experience in the comments below. I have appreciated all the feedback we have received over the last few months on this painful situation. We take all your comments to heart and use them to guide us in what is important to our pet parents.
Thank you so much for your continued patience. We have asked a lot from you and appreciate all your support and encouragement.
Your Chief Embracer,
Laura Bennett FSA CFA
January 03, 2012
Did you know that that spending on pets in 2011 topped $50 billion for the first time? That's a lot of dog collars, don't you think!
Actually, we spend on everything from pet accessories and food to veterinary care and services such as boarding and pet sitting. To put $50 billion in perspective, the pet industry tops the book publishing ($31 billion) and women’s clothing ($41 billion) industries by a healthy margin.
Want to know what is driving pet spending in 2012? Hop on over to the Embrace site for an in-depth look at pet-related trends for 2012.
Pet Industry Trends 2012
Pet Industry Trends 2011
Pet Industry Trends 2010
Pet Industry Trends 2009
Pet Industry Trends 2008
Pet Industry Trends 2007
Pet Industry Trends 2006
About the author: Laura Bennett FSA CFA is the CEO and Co-Founder of Embrace Pet Insurance. Her career working in the insurance industry has taken her from Toronto, Canada and Dublin Ireland to the US, where she obtained her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Laura was the first pet insurance actuary in the United States and was named to the Society of Actuaries Top 100 Actuarial Pioneers for her ground-breaking work in pet insurance. Laura strongly believes in furthering awareness of pet insurance across North America and leads that work in her third year as Chairman of the Board of NAPHIA, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Laura also writes a blog on pet-related issues, the Embrace Pet Insurance blog.
November 21, 2011
Excellent news! You can now view your Embrace Pet Insurance claim status online. It's about time!
Go to our website, click on the "after you enroll" tab and right at the bottom, click the "view your claims".
Or you can click directly this view your claims and bookmark it for future use.
It's a good start and I'm sure you'll have suggestions on improvements so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what your thoughts are.
It goes hand in hand with the claims form download feature - another nifty tool to access your personalized claim form and orthopedic report card for all your pets in one location.
Onwards and upwards...
September 15, 2011
The reason why we get such great customer reviews is because of our Embracers.
Yes, we have a great product. Yes, we have a great website. Yes, we are open and honest. But really, the Embrace Experience is not just a concept, it's the people that make all of that happen.
The way you are treated when you call in. The way we admit to mistakes and how we fix them. The way we love your pets too. All of which come from the Embrace Core Values and the Embracers that live them.
Which is why we work hard to hire great people with inquisitive and sharp minds to be Embracers. We can't do it any other way.
So, when someone else, not our mothers, says we have a great place to work, we love the recognition that others get what we are doing too. Yay!
Just in case you aren't from around here, a NorthCoast 99 Award recognizes the ability to maintain great workplaces that support the attraction, retention, and motivation of Top Performers. We won for the second year in a row and don't plan to stop winning any time soon.
Some interesting facts about the 99 companies that won a NorthCoast 99 award this year.
- 65% have onsite fitness classes, activities or programs (we have yoga on Mondays)
- 91% provide new hires with a welcome lunch (each new hire has lunch with their assigned Embrace buddy)
- 14,599 new employees hired in 2010 (wow, we did a rather modest part of that)
- 53% of non-management top performers participated in the creation or implementation of a new workplace policy, program or product/service in 2010 (everyone gets to chip in at Embrace)