Veterinary care is expensive, and like almost everything else right now, it’s not immune to inflation. The average cost of emergency care for a pet is between $800 plus $1, 500, but 97% of pets in the U. S. are not insured.
And, as a friend recently described so succinctly to me, think of it this way: Pet insurance will be what health insurance was like for people in the particular U. H. before the Affordable Care Act. Meaning, there is no pet insurance available for pets with preexisting conditions. So any treatment for animals with preexisting conditions is out-of-pocket—and expensive.
Millennials are the largest segment of pet owners, and they are willing to spend double on their pets than previous generations, but given those insurance rates, not enough pet owners are financially prepared for emergencies.
Catherine Dennig cofounded Fursure after facing an exorbitant (and unaffordable) vet bill and the subsequent loss of her beloved cat. Since launching in 2020, Fursure has signed up more than 60, 000 pet parents across all 50 states, supporting over 1, 800 checking accounts with the new Fursure Card . Touted to be the first rewards debit card made with regard to pet parents, customers can earn five points regarding every dollar spent on a pet, which can be redeemed towards any vet bill, essentially serving as a rainy day fund for pet-related emergencies. Customers can also earn exclusive discounts on products from pet retailers like Bark Box, Chewy , and The Farmer’s Dog.
Dennig recently shared more with Fortune about what Fursure does and what it could mean for the future associated with our pets and the pet insurance coverage industry.
The following interview has been condensed and lightly edited intended for clarity.
Could you share a bit about your professional background before launching Fursure?
Before Fursure I was leading product teams on news feed plus ads at Facebook , where I helped build and launch Facebook Ad Credit to get SMBs to try advertising, which became a sustainable growth lever for Facebook. I led the News Feed Integrity Content Quality team, a large cross-functional product team building classifiers pertaining to problematic content like clickbait, sensationalism, ad farms, and more. I learned a ton in my 3. 5 years there and loved my amazing coworkers, many of whom became the first Fursure investors, plus always knew I wanted in order to get back to building something I was deeply passionate about for the next 10-plus years, so I left to start Fursure.
Before Facebook, We graduated in 2015 through Princeton University, where I actually started our first company, Nofomo. I learned more than a few hard-won lessons, namely to hire for truly mission-aligned teammates and to always iterate on products with customer feedback in order to ultimately solve real problems for people.
What inspired the particular launch of Fursure?
It started with my cat named Simba, who was the pride and joy. We call my loved ones (parents, sister, and best friends) Simba, Yimba, plus Yimbi because my term of endearment because of him. I actually had grown up with animals, but Simba was the first meant for which I had been financially responsible. It hit me hard when he was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma, and treatment cost $12, 000. I was a college student, I had to decide whether to go into debt to save his life. He passed away a week later, plus I carried that with me as I finished college and began working in Facebook and living in the particular Bay Area.
As I was volunteering at the SFSPCA along with my now cofounder Keji Xu, we heard dog owner after pet owner lament over the costs of veterinarian care—with one woman telling us she spent $8, 000 for her dog’s ACL surgery. We heard families having in order to choose between saving their loved one, giving them the medical care they needed, or going into crippling debt. It reminded me associated with my struggle with Simba.
Pet spend in the particular U. S. is already approximately $120 billion, soon to be $275 billion by the end of the decade. Pets used to be companions, but now all of us see them as starter kids. There are 185 million cats and dogs in the particular U. H., and while the U. T. pet insurance policy industry is already the $2. 8 billion market growing more than 30% year over 12 months, it has penetrated just over 3% of proprietors.
Many pet owners are still unaware of how expensive certain procedures can be, and traditional pet insurance companies do not effectively convey their value until it’s too late. Over a few weeks we all had hundreds of conversations with pet mother and father, vets, insurers, and shelters; we got clarity on the pain points and built up a lot of excitement to contribute to this loving part of many people’s lives. All of us recognized that we had a huge opportunity to build a trusted organization that helps family pet parents take care associated with their loved ones.
Health insurance plan for humans is hard enough to figure out, but pet insurance is an entirely different animal (pardon the particular pun) provided the restrictions around preexisting conditions, not really to mention how hard it can become to compare plans among different providers. What are some of the biggest pain points with pet insurance right now, and how is Fursure a better option compared to what is currently on the market?
The entire process of finding the right pet insurance policy sucks. First and foremost, people don’t know exactly what pet insurance coverage covers, plus it doesn’t work like human health insurance does, so it’s doubly confusing.
As you said, no policies will cover preexisting conditions, and about top of that, most insurance companies don’t cover routine wellness costs, so preventive care (which comprises the majority of your own annual vet care costs) is separate from accidents and illnesses and often not covered unless added upon or purchased separately. Secondly, people do not know who the players are in the pet insurance policy market. They’ll do a Google search and see names like Trupanion, Pets Best, Figo, and have no idea who in order to trust along with the health and wellness of their own loved one.
Lastly, people ultimately just want to know what is best for them plus their specific pet, and there is a lot of noise out there inside the marketplace.
Our national pet insurance plan marketplace solves these issues by making dog insurance approachable, with a modern buying procedure that gives family pet parents saved time, money, and confidence in protecting their whole family. With Fursure, there are no hidden fees or surprises when you work with 1 of our pet insurance gurus. We are an unbiased and free-to-use resource that will simplifies the process to be as seamless as possible.
We all start by explaining in plain language what’s covered, what is not, what various terms mean, exactly how providers compare, and what factors are important when buying a plan. We then offer you personalized recommendations plus guidance on the best policy for a person and your situation. We make sure that from the start you know how much you will be paying your provider for your coverage, help you obtain your plan, and offer an end-to-end solution designed for policy management and renewals.
Responsible pet owners do a lot for their particular dogs and cats, and we’re all used to budgeting for food, treats, toys, grooming, plus routine trips to the veterinarian for basic checkups and vaccine boosters. And yet pet insurance is probably the particular one price most pet owners overlook but should consider the majority of. How can Fursure get these owners sold on dog insurance?
The many important things that we believe are holding pet moms and dads back from opting in to pet insurance are transparency, trust, plus education. Buying pet insurance coverage shouldn’t be expensive, confusing, or time-consuming, and we try to make it an easy and quick process while furthermore explaining how important pet insurance is.
Pet insurance for accidents and illnesses is almost exactly like car or home insurance…you hope you will never need it, but you will be SO grateful if a person have to use it. There have been far too many pet parents who have had to choose between emptying their bank accounts or even saying goodbye to their loving pet. Having pet insurance means you can feel confident knowing you will never have to make that gut-wrenching choice.
On the other hand, wellness plans are a little more similar to health insurance and where a person will feel more of an impact with that will daily value. Wellness plans cover those expenses you will commonly see with healthy pets like vaccines, heartworm prevention, spay/neuter, and even dental cleaning. Almost all insurance policies do not cover these costs, so a best practice would be bundling these two services so you are protecting your pet plus yourself at all angles. Our Fursure Card is an alternative for those that don’t have a wellness plan because the points you earn can be used on all veterinary care, so you can offset all those costs in a smart and easy way.
Not every dog parent needs pet insurance coverage; given restrictions on preexisting conditions, with regard to pets with many existing medical conditions, it may not make sense to buy an expensive strategy that doesn’t cover everything one may want to be covered. The same goes for older animals, and family pet parents who can pay tens of thousands out of pocket and can afford to self-insure. But regarding a lot of people, they could use a hand along with pet insurance policy or a savings account, or the combo associated with both in order to protect against the unexpected big costs over the lifetime and give peace of mind. More pet parents are getting insurance when they first get their pet from the shelter or breeder in their checklist of items.
How is the company funded? Is it self-funded or have you reached out to investors? What has the financing process been like?
We bootstrapped the company as we conducted research and interviewed hundreds of pet parents, vets, insurers, and shelters, to learn the biggest pain points. We raised a friends and family round as a pre-seed within March 2020, which happened to be the very start of the pandemic with shelter-in-place lockdown restrictions in the Bay Area plus investors running around trying to help their portfolio companies, many associated with whom were seeing their own revenue numbers plummet. In hindsight, it was typically the worst time in many years to be raising for an early-stage company, but I’m grateful for the first checks inside Fursure, people who believed in me from working with me at Facebook or even seeing me personally grow up from childhood. After we built a base of customers who loved us and had strong early traction, all of us raised an oversubscribed seed round throughout April 2021.
Since then, as we launched the first-of-its-kind rewards debit card that offered supercharged points on pet spend with promising traction in addition to expanded our reach regarding pet mother and father; existing and even new investors offered to invest in the seed plus round, which we’re wrapping up now. The market is crazy, so fund-raising has not been easy, but the process has helped us find phenomenal traders who believe deeply in us together with the problem we’re solving which has been amazing.
Looking forward five many years, how do you want to Fursure to grow? What kind of services do you want to add in the future?
All of us plan in order to continue iterating upon our own foundation because the initial financial well-being platform for pet moms and dads. We are always talking to the customers, so I know that will we will continue building this best solutions for often the pain points they face. We did this with our Fursure Card, after countless conversations where we all learned dog parents wanted to be rewarded for their particular pet invest and have an easy solution for a new rainy day fund.
Our marketplace is the just tip of the iceberg involving what pet parents everywhere need to be able to feel confident and empowered with pet finances, so we plan on building some sort of solution with regard to that suffering point down the line and innovating on behalf of them.