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Darryl Rawlings is pet owner and serial entrepreneur. As Trupanion’s CEO and founder, he brought transparency and value to the pet insurance business. His appreciation of the special relationship between pets, pet owners and veterinarians led him to invent a new kind of pet insurance.
Trupanion’s pet insurance offers cat and dog insurance in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Trupanion is self-underwritten by the American Pet Insurance Company, allowing Trupanion to offer a simple, customizable pet insurance policy with no payout limits and 90% coverage of veterinary bills. Enrolled pets receive lifetime coverage for diagnostic tests, surgeries, and medications if they get sick or are injured, with no incident, annual or lifetime limit.
MO: What inspired you to start Trupanion?
Darryl: In 1998, I saw a large gap between the penetration rate (level of acceptance) of pet insurance between North America and Europe. Europe was far ahead of North America in terms of pets insured. This was strange to me knowing how pet owners in North America feel about their pets, so it was obvious to me that we could do better.
MO: How did your experience and background help you develop Trupanion and ultimately lead to its success?
Darryl: I am a pet owner, so the idea of pet insurance was something I myself explored to protect my own pet. Having the consumer’s perspective was invaluable to me in developing a product that was cost effective but had the highest value on the market. This experience combined with the cooperation of the animal health community is what drove our vision and strategy.
MO: How challenging was it to put together and implement a corporate culture that really reflected your values and vision?
Darryl: Corporate culture is constantly evolving. It is something that needs to be nurtured and fostered continuously and we do that by listening to the needs of our team members and doing our best to meet those needs. For example, our team members enjoy the option to bring their pet to work and we have two full-time dog walkers available to keep the dogs happy and healthy. It makes our team members happy to be able to have their pets by their side and makes them that much more empathetic to our customers. Our company is centered on our promise to do what we say. It takes empowered, passionate people to live up to that promise.
MO: Where does your entrepreneurial spirit come from? Who or what were your early influences or inspirations?
Darryl: My goal in life has always been to be able to live a fulfilling and rewarding life. To do this, I needed to find a career that had a vision or cause that excited and inspired me. If I would have found that in an existing company, I would have applied. But instead, I was driven to start a company I could feel passionate about, and I still love what I do 13 years later.
MO: How often do you get feedback from the pet owners that you’ve helped? Do you have any success stories that illustrate how Trupanion is making a difference in the lives of pets and their owners?
Darryl: We receive positive, heartwarming stories every day from policyholders we have helped. The feedback is so inspiring and really reinforces our passion for the work we do. Pet owners have been able to save their pets’ lives; afford better, more effective treatment options; and keep their life savings or credit lines in tact – all because of our product. Here are a few examples:
MO: How does your business model allow you to cover 90% of actual veterinary costs for policy holders?
Darryl: Structurally we are simply more efficient than any other provider of pet insurance, as we have been able to decrease administrative costs and overhead as a percentage of premiums year over year. In addition, we have the highest value proposition in the industry, pricing all policyholders appropriately in like groups to ensure that pet owners with average pets will have at least 70 cents of every dollar they pay in premiums paid back in the way of claims over the life of their pet. And our goal is get that number to 80 cents.
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