Check out Steve's amazing Dog Chapel. Steve is a Vermont artist and sculptor, known for his children's books, playful hand-carved furniture, sculpture and woodcut prints, and now his Dog Chapel. Steve built the chapel after he had a near death experience.
"I wanted to build a chapel, one that celebrated the spiritual bond we have with our dogs, and that would be open to dogs and people. People of any faith or belief system."
One of the reasons that pet insurance is growing more popular (although you might not know it because less than one half of one percent of the US cats and dogs are insurered - big growth is hardly noticable to you and me) is because of the humanization of pets - we are treating our cats and dogs more like children than ever before.
I was reading an article about a new research report by Research and Markets on Pet Food and Pet Care Products in United States. I was actually struck by the headline that asserts the "proliferation of pet superstores has been [a] significant growth factor for [the] US pet food and pet care products market." Hmmm, I wonder if there wasn't the demand, would they have grown so much? Seems to me a bit of the chicken and the egg here.
But I digress... the article summarized the humanization of pets reasonably well, even if in a rather stodgy and formal way. It said:
The "humanisation" of pets is a continuing trend, whereby pets (particularly dogs and cats) are increasingly cared for according to human patterns, and human aesthetic standards are applied to pets. Pets are increasingly regarded as family members, and are often considered as equivalent to children in the level of attention and care they gain from pet owners. This has led to a heightened awareness of the special health needs associated with pets at different developmental stages, and an increased tendency to pamper pets with toys and treats that are not really needed from a care or nutritional standpoint. The continued development of cosmetics for pets is an example of this trend, with new products such as bath wipes, scented shampoos and aromatherapy candles. Other pet-related product markets continued to utilise this desire to extend human provisions, such as pet insurance, pet clothing, pet energy bars, and even things like a cat-oriented cafe and pet yoga classes.
I highlighted the cosmetic, bath wipes, scented shampoos and aromatherapy candles part. Isn't that what it's all about it? That we would buy these things for our pooches and pusses (although I don't think Barnes would be too impressed with scented shampoo, no matter how lovely it smelt!)?
Perhaps we could create a "humanization index " where we would track the sales of bath wipes, scented shampoos and aromatherapy candles. Maybe at some point, these will become mainstream and everyone will be buying them.
"During the euthanasia decision-making process and after the decision is made, provide the client with resources about the process and impact of euthanasia on the family and other pets. Such resources include web sites, hotlines, books, brochures, and professional counselors for both adults and children. Web site examples include firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rainbowsbridge.com, www.aplb.org, and www.deltasociety.org. Examples of pet loss support hotlines include those at Washington State University (509-335-5704), the University of California-Davis (530-752-3602 or 800-565-1526), Tufts University (508-839-5302), the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association (630-325-1600), Cornell University (607-253-3932), and the Delta Society (619-320-3298)." (page 9)
If you feel you need someone to talk to, these people are there to listen. And there's nothing better than a good listener.
My cat Barnes has a kidney condition typical of adult male cats and his kidneys are gradually becoming less efficient than when he was a slip of a lad. I have to watch his diet and hydration carefully, and monitor his overall health in case he gets a blockage, which becomes an immediate emergency if that happens. The problem is that cats tend to just go off and hide in your laundry or under the porch when they get sick and don't tell us that something is wrong.
That's why I took notice when I saw this new "smart" kitty litter called ScoopLite that changes color based on the acidity/alkalinity of a cat's urine. Not only that, but it keeps the pee smell down, clumps, and is biodegradable. This new product is offered by Pet Ecology Brands, Inc., out of Texas, which "has been developing and manufacturing unique and patented products for pets that are environmentally and technologically advanced, earth-friendly and safe." Sounds good to me.
A built in early warning health system - now that's what I call a smart cat product! I think I'm going to order it and see how it works. I'll let you know.
We will begin with a list of who is selling pet insurance in the US as of April 29, 2005. [Note that this list is out of date as of April 12 2007 - I will update later, Laura]
Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) of Brea California - the company was founded in 1980 by a consortium of several hundred veterinarians and was been run by veterinarians until 2004. VPI policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (California) and National Casualty Company (in all other states, rated A+ by AM Best), a subsidiary of Nationwide Mutual Insurance. VPI’s key owners are Scottsdale (majority at 60.8%), also a subsidiary of Nationwide Mutual, and Iams (8.9%), a pet food subsidiary of Proctor & Gamble.
Pethealth Inc. of Oakville, Canada - the second-largest pet insurer in the US, which sells pet insurance in both Canada and the United States under the PetCare brand. Petcare policies in the US are underwritten by Lincoln General Insurance Company, York , Pa. , (rated A- by AM Best) and sold through their US agency partner, Avalon Risk Management, Inc.The firm is listed as an over-the-counter stock on the Toronto Venture Exchange (symbol:PTZ).
Hartville Group of Canton, Ohio - sells pet insurance policies under the Petshealth Care Plan and Healthy Bark and Purr brands. Its policies are underwritten by QBE Insurance (rated A by AM Best), and sold through its agency, Petsmarketing Insurance.com Agency.
Pet Protect of Naples, Florida - sells under the Pet Protect brand. Its policies are underwritten by the Insurance Corporation of Hannover, which is owned by Hannover Re, the fifth largest reinsurer in the world (rated A+ by AM Best). The company is privately held.
Pet Partners of Raleigh, North Carolina - sells pet insurance under the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan (AKC = American Kennel Club) and the CFA Pet Healthcare Plan (CFA = Cat Fanciers' Association). It's policies are underwritten by the National Specialty Insurance Company, a subsidiary of State National. The company is privately held.
That is, as far as I know, all the companies in the US that sell pet insurance. I'll be updating it when other companies go live and of course, when Embrace Pet Insurance joins the fray.
In future entries, I'll talk about these companies individually, what it means to have an underwriter and how that works, what an AM Best rating means and should you care, and many other topics. Stayed tuned.
Good question! I have been working on setting up Embrace Pet Insurance for the last two years or so (why that's taken so long could be the subject of a whole other blog). While I was doing that, I found it devilishly difficult to understand the world of pet insurance - not only the products, but also why anyone would want pet insurance, where to you get it, and what should you look for when buying? I think I have most of that sorted out now but it's taken me 2 years.
So, I thought I would start this discussion with you to see if we could sort all that out here. If I can share some of my findings, perhaps more pet lovers would see the use of pet insurance and we'd have a lot of fun in the process.
As for our progress in setting up Embrace Pet Insurance, we still plod forward. We have some start up funding from Jumpstart, here in Cleveland, but we also need an insurance partner to take on the claims risk and that's the sticking point. Who would have thought it would be easier to raise start up funding than getting an insurance partner? But, we are working on it feverishly and hopefully one day, I can talk to you about the Embrace products.
Who is we you ask? There are two of us who founded Embrace Pet Insurance: me (Laura Bennett) and my business partner (Alex Krooglik). We are both passionate about pet insurance.
So, let's get on with the blog. I am sure that it will take some time to get my style sorted out so pardon me in advance for working it on the fly.