Trupanion, Riding the Wave of Fast-Growing Industry, Seeks to Lead in Pet Medical Insurance

9/24/10

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to do that, you have to have a commitment to the space.”

One of the ways Trupanion has broken the typical insurance company model is by handling claim payments directly, without going through the policy holder. Rather than having to dish out the initial cost and wait for a reimbursement from the insurance company, Trupanion pays 90 percent of the costs up front so the policy holder will only ever have to foot its 10 percent of the bill.

Other perks: Premiums will not increase based on the age of a pet. There are no limits on the number of claims-or the equivalent costs—you can make, and premiums will not rise because claims are made. And, using an online estimator, pet owners can select the deductible amount that fits their budget—whether it’s $0, between $50 and $1,000 (in $5 increments), or on a per-incident basis—giving them a monthly cost tailored to their needs.

There are “No limits. Period,” Rawlings says. “It’s one plan that people can customize their own rates.” (Just for fun, I got a quote for insuring my 12-week-old Tabby, Gus, with a $50 deductable. The monthly premium came to $19.72 a month).

It is important to note that there are two exceptions to this rule. While Trupanion will insure pets with pre-existing conditions, the costs of those conditions are not covered, though Rawlings says the company is working on this. Pets with hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can affect dogs and many other animals, is the only condition that the plan doesn’t cover (though for pets under one year of age, coverage can be added for a couple extra dollars).

[Corrected: An earlier version of this story stated that Trupanion does not insure pets with pre-existing conditions].

While Trupanion has been gaining market share in the U.S. pet medical insurance market in the last few years, Rawlings says the sector has really been heating up. “If you look back five years ago there might have been six companies [in the space],” he says. “Today there are about a dozen in North America alone.”

As the U.S. market for pet health insurance grows, Trupanion envisions becoming one of the leaders, Rawlings says. This means looking at new geographies (Trupanion was recently licensed in Puerto Rico), and exploring potential acquisition opportunities, he says.

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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