By Elaine Kish, Compass Media Staff Writer
Every day millions of Americans use their health insurance coverage for everything from wellness physicals to major surgeries and hospitalizations. But what happens when your pet needs medical treatment? In 1997 a group of investors in Canton, Ohio, saw a need for a service to pet owners in a relatively new area. That is when the Hartville Pet Insurance Group was born.
Chris Sachs, Chief Operating Officer, states, “There is now a greater emphasis on being a pet parent. Most pet owners truly feel their pets are dependents, and they want to care for them to the best of their ability. Pet health insurance allows owners to make choices for medical treatment without cost being such a major issue.”
At the present time about 2 percent of pet owners have chosen to obtain health insurance for their pet companions. Hartville Pet Insurance Group is one of the leaders in this industry. With over 150 employees, most of them working out of their main office in Canton, Ohio, more in the Claims, Sales and Customer Service Departments, they are ready to answer questions about coverage, process claims and confirm the status of a claim. Starting out with 20,000 policies after their inception, Hartville Pet Insurance Group currently has over 100,000 active policies issued to pet owners nationwide. They estimate that they have issued over 300,000 policies during the life of the company and have processed more than 1 million claims. Since 2006, Hartville has been the only strategic partner for pet insurance with the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®). The ASPCA sees pet insurance as an important way to help pets get the veterinary care they need. The ASPCA, which is the oldest animal welfare organization in North America, chose Hartville as its partner because of the company’s commitment to pet health and its humane coverage philosophy.
Representatives in the call center and on the website issue over 1,000 new policy quotes everyday — evidence that pet owners are extremely interested in this service. At the present time, Hartville Pet Insurance Group offers coverage for dogs and cats only. When you contact them, a representative will obtain information about your pet and review the types of policies available ranging from wellness coverage to accident and injury coverage. Owners may also consider various co-pay and deductible levels. Pets must be at least eight weeks old to qualify for coverage; after that, they can be covered at any age. Hartville also was one of the first pet health insurance companies to offer two levels of wellness coverage and has added coverage for alternative and behavioral therapies.
AVP of Marketing, Liz Watson, states, “It makes a real difference to pet owners to know they have a Hartville Pet Health Insurance team member that can give them information about our services. All of our employees feel a sense of accomplishment from helping pet parents every day. We all feel like we are part of a large family.”
One employee at Hartville Pet Insurance Group has the role of Customer Outreach Coordinator. Schelie Kelly is assigned the task of writing sympathy notes and calling policyholders after the death of a pet to deliver a condolence message. Asked how she deals with such calls, Kelly says, “I just talk to them like a friend. I tell them we are pet people and are here for you. If you have a bad day, call me back. I check back on people a couple times and sometimes I cry right along with them.” Kelly maintains a memory wall with photos of deceased pets and notes from owners grateful for the support in their time of loss.
A second, smaller office in Copley, Ohio, houses the technology team, and Hartville Pet Insurance Group is excited to be moving into a new facility in Akron, Ohio, in June 2015, where all employees will be under the same roof.
For more information about the services of Hartville Pet Insurance Group and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance visit their
website at www.aspcapetinsurance.com.