Pet Insurance Press Releases – Pets Best
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Skeeter Foundation Revitalized

Posted on: April 10th, 2006 by

Twin Falls, Idaho, April 10, 2006 — The Skeeter Foundation today announced that it has secured funding to revitalize its mission as a non-profit pet foundation. This announcement follows an infusion of initial funding by GF&C Holding Company, the parent of General Fire & Casualty the underwriting insurance company for Pets Best insurance pet insurance plans. Additionally, Greg McDonald, chairman of GF&C Holding Company made a sizeable donation, assisting the funding of the charitable institution which has been dormant for the past two years.

The Skeeter Foundation was created in 2000 by Dr. Jack Stephens, with his companion Skeeter as its inspiration and spokes-pet. The foundation’s mission was then, and is now, to demonstrate that companion pets make us healthier, thus the mission of “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills” to promote the human-animal bond. The foundation’s major activities provide support for pet therapy teams, which are groups of volunteers who visit hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and schools with their certified therapy pets.

“The human-animal bond is one of the strongest, most life-affirming relationships we can have,” said Dr. Stephens. “Pets have the power to positively affect our physical, emotional and mental well-being. With the newly rejuvenated Skeeter Foundation, we intend to provide financial and educational backing to validate and promote this special connection and its value to society. In addition, the Foundation plans to carry on its funding of scientific studies that measure the physiological and psychological benefits of pet companionship and other pet or animal-related causes.”

The Skeeter Foundation has previously contributed an endowment for funding important studies that have provided convincing evidence that quiet interaction with a pet is good for humans by positively impacting our body chemistry. It seems that contact with animals is rooted in our biology, through the eons of human development, as a potent stress reliever. The Foundation is planning a series of special Internet contests, where pet owners can celebrate the joy of companion animals, as well as other activities during 2006 to raise additional financial support and to increase awareness of how pets positively impact our lives.

In past years, the Skeeter Foundation has contributed an endowment to the University of Missouri Veterinary College and Nursing School to fund an important study that measures hormones and other chemicals that our bodies produce while interacting with a dog, without a dog and with a robotic dog. These studies have preliminarily validated the Skeeter Foundation’s mission of “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills,” by demonstrating through scientific measurement that, while interacting with a pet, “good hormones” and body chemicals increase and other “hormones and chemicals” such as cortisol that, in excess, can be bad for humans, decrease.

About Skeeter

Skeeter, no ordinary canine companion, has a long list of accomplishments from his tenure with the Skeeter Foundation and before:

  • He is the first canine to be a featured commencement speaker at the University of Missouri and Texas A&M Veterinary schools. At Texas A&M Skeeter received a rare standing ovation at the conclusion of a speech by Dr. Stephens.
  • Skeeter holds an honorary DVM degree from the University of Missouri.
  • He served as co-speaker/barker with Dr. Stephens at a National Cancer Day event at a leading hospital. The Topic was: The importance of Pets in the Healing Process.
  • He has been a sought-after guest on cable and network news shows and pet talk programs.
  • He has made numerous therapy visits, including several on Christmas day, to brighten the lives of numerous individuals.
  • He assisted and inspired Dr. Stephens to found Pets Best, underwritten by General Fire & Casualty Company,
    “Simply the Best Pet Insurance.”

Mission

The primary goal of the Skeeter Foundation is to educate people and support programs that endorse the “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills” philosophy. Named in honor of one of the founder’s Dr. Jack Stephens’ animal companions, the Skeeter Foundation was formed to perpetuate the proven positive effects that pets have on human health.

One of the Skeeter Foundation’s principle activities is to develop and support volunteer therapy teams comprising a variety of pets that bring joy and relieve stress into people’s lives. Pets are mostly certified dogs that have passed rigorous training. Others include cats, rabbits, miniature horses and even a llama. Pets eligible for the Rx teams must have a gentle disposition, and be patient with and tolerant of strangers. The Foundation provides consultative and administrative support to the Rx teams, as well as liability insurance, which is required by visited institutions.

Pets Best Expands Its Customer Service With “Click-to-Chat” Service

Posted on: March 21st, 2006 by

Boise, Idaho, March 21, 2006 — Pets Best, insurance for pets and a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, today announced that it has launched a “click-to-chat” service to provide Web site visitors with instant online access to its customer service representatives. By offering this type of service, Pets Best is looking to meet the needs of customers and potential customers who prefer getting their information via the Internet and, for various reasons, want to avoid telephone contact. The chat medium allows them to obtain assistance or have their questions answered quickly and efficiently in real-time, while maintaining control over the interaction.

Based on technology from LivePerson, Inc., the leading provider of hosted solutions for managing online customer interactions, the service is easy for site visitors to use. After logging on to the Pets Best Web site, www.petsbest.com, visitors click on a clearly labeled icon that is displayed on various pages. This instantly sets up a real-time, direct connection with a knowledgeable Pets Best customer service representative for interactive text-messaging communications. Since Pets Best representatives can view the exact site-location of each visitor, they can provide immediate assistance, answering questions or helping navigate through pages to locate specific information.

“Click-to-chat provides us with another avenue for helping customers, letting them choose the medium in which they feel most comfortable. We want our customers to know that we’re readily available if they have questions, and adding this to our Web site conveys that far better than merely displaying a phone number,” said Pets Best founder, Dr. Jack Stephens. “One of the service’s most useful features is that it lets us co-browse with customers, so we can help them fill out forms or review information together. It keeps us, literally, on the same page.”

Live chat also gives Pets Best the ability to address its customers’ needs on a personalized basis, reducing frustration levels and increasing their overall satisfaction. Additionally, providing this contact option to customers should reduce site-abandonment issues and improve online sales conversions.

Pets Best Launches Community Site Blog

Posted on: February 20th, 2006 by

Boise, Idaho, February 20, 2006 — Pets Best Insurance, a pet insurance company in a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, today announced Pet Vet-Talks, an online Community section of its Web site, www.petsbest.com, to communicate with pet owners on timely topics of interest concerning their companion animals.

On the Community section will be a blog, posted by Pets Best Insurance founder, Dr. Jack Stephens, which will feature his thoughts and observations on pets, pet insurance and the joys of owning pets. In addition, highlights of scientific studies that are factually proving the emotional, mental and physical benefits of pet companionship will be shared. As the founder of the U.S. pet health insurance industry, a veterinarian with more than 30 years of experience, and an avid animal-devotee, Dr. Stephens provides thought-provoking insight about these topics and how they inter-relate with society’s growing passion for its pets.

“On a daily basis, in both my professional and personal lives, I see the positive impact of pets on people. And throughout my years of treating and having pet companions, I have accumulated stories and experiences about this wonderfully mutual beneficial relationship between humans and animals. The Community site will also share pet news and important pet information. And there will be a section for like-minded animal lovers to post pet photos and stories as a way to share and inform others on the wonderful value of pets to us as individuals and to society as a whole,” said Dr. Stephens.

Pet Vet-Talks can be accessed at http://community.petsbest.com

About Pets Best Insurance

The pet insurance company, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, which specializes in agribusiness, livestock and animal-related insurance products. The company provides comprehensive insurance plans for pet owners whose pet is a family member. Its insurance plans provide the peace of mind that comes when a pet owner wants “simply the best.” Pets Best takes pride in offering its policyholders high limits, generous benefits and a variety of options for every budget. Pets Best knows that making the statement, “Simply the best pet insurance,” means it must live up to its name each and every day, and with each and every interaction with its policyholders.

Pets Best Insurance offers a generous 80 percent coverage of covered claims (after the deductible), liberal wellness benefits, the ability to choose your own veterinarian, and prompt claims settlement. Pets Best employees understand pet insurance and the needs of pet owners, as Pets Best’s founder, Dr. Jack Stephens, pioneered the pet insurance industry in 1981, has over 30 years of veterinary experience, and has instilled his passion and commitment to pet insurance in each and every one of his employees. For more information, visit www.petsbest.com or call 877-PETS BEST (738-7237).

Pets Best Launches Free Vet Locator Service

Posted on: January 9th, 2006 by

Boise, Idaho, January 9, 2006 — Pets Best Insurance, a pet insurance company and a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, today announced a free Veterinary locator service for pet owners. Through this Veterinary locator service, pet owners can quickly and easily find a veterinarian simply by entering a zip code on the Pets Best Insurance Web site: http://www.petsbest.com/VetLocator. The new service will be demonstrated in Booth #2421 at the North American Veterinary Conference, January 7-11 in Orlando, Fla.

Pets Best Insurance, which was launched last October, provides comprehensive insurance plans for pet owners. The Pets Best Insurance plans allow pet owners the freedom to choose their own veterinarian, provides pet owners flexibility to choose appropriate veterinarian recommended treatment for their pets, and the ability to avoid the hardship that financial constraints might otherwise place on a pet owner’s ability to obtain optimum healthcare for their pet if they did not have pet insurance.

“With the Vet Locator option, we wanted to help pet owners who are traveling, moving to another community or looking for an emergency clinic to find a veterinarian,” said Dr. Jack Stephens, Pets Best Insurance founder and pet insurance pioneer. “With our free Vet Locator service, we provide pet owners with a fast, convenient and informational way to locate a veterinarian to serve their needs. Our service is unique in that it provides the pet owner with a detailed map and directions, not just a list of veterinarians in the area.”

How the Vet Locator Service Works

The program is simple. Any interested pet owner simply enters the zip code where they live or, if traveling, where they will be located. The system instantly produces a Geographical Information System (“GIS”) map of the zip code area indicating the veterinary locations in that vicinity. The pet owner can then choose from the nearest three, five, ten or even more veterinary locations. A detailed map references each location and the pet owner can scroll down the page to receive driving directions to any of the veterinarian practices.

The Vet Locator Service also features additional information on Pets Best Insurance participating hospitals, including areas of specialty medicine, services such as boarding, grooming, and special equipment, hours of operation and any other offerings. This service provides pet owners with a great way to find the veterinarian closest to them or one for an emergency or special need.

About Pets Best Insurance

The pet insurance company, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, which specializes in agribusiness, livestock and animal-related insurance products. The company provides comprehensive insurance plans for pet owners whose pet is a family member. Its insurance plans provide the peace of mind that comes when a pet owner wants “simply the best.” Pets Best takes pride in offering its policyholders high limits, generous benefits and a variety of options for every budget. Pets Best knows that making the statement, “Simply the best pet insurance,” means it must live up to its name each and every day, and with each and every interaction with its policyholders.

Pets Best Insurance offers a generous 80 percent coverage of covered claims (after the deductible), liberal wellness benefits, the ability to choose your own veterinarian, and prompt claims settlement. Pets Best employees understand pet insurance and the needs of pet owners, as Pets Best’s founder, Dr. Jack Stephens, pioneered the pet insurance industry in 1981, has over 30 years of veterinary experience, and has instilled his passion and commitment to pet insurance in each and every one of his employees. For more information, visit
www.petsbest.com or call 877-PETS BEST (738-7237).

Pioneer of U.S. Pet Insurance Launches Pets Best Insurance

Posted on: January 5th, 2006 by

Boise, Idaho, January 5, 2006 — Pets Best Insurance, a pet health insurance company for pets and a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, today announced that it will begin providing comprehensive insurance plans for pet owners and their pet family members. Initially, the company intends to offer its programs in 24 states, including California, and anticipates expanding into additional states by the end of the year.

Founded by pet insurance pioneer, Jack Stephens D.V.M., the company’s insurance plans for pets are designed to provide the peace of mind that comes when consumers want “simply the best.”  Pets Best Insurance offers its policyholders generous benefits, reasonable premium options and the ability to use the veterinarian of their choice.

Dr. Stephens draws on 33 years of veterinary experience and a lifelong passion for animals in delivering this new innovative product. “My mission is to provide pet owners with broader protection, straightforward claims reimbursement and options to fit every budget. Pets Best’s goal is to be worthy as the best choice for pet insurance,” said Dr. Stephens.

As a veterinarian and pet lover with eight dogs and two cats, Dr. Stephens brings a unique perspective to the pet insurance industry. “I know all the many problems that can unexpectedly happen to pets. In creating this new product, I focused on what pet owners and their veterinarians wanted in price, coverage and benefits,” continued Dr. Stephens. “I knew from experience that I could provide more benefits and higher reimbursement for pet care by utilizing new automation for internal processing of claims, and passing along the advantages to pet owners in a number of ways — fewer coverage exclusions, more coverage options, and higher limits to meet increasing veterinary care. I have had a lifelong passion to help pets and providing pet insurance for the unexpected health needs of pets is the best method. I wanted no hidden schedules or complicated method of calculating the reimbursements for pet care, simply by paying 80 percent of covered claims after the deductible.”

  • Pets Best insurance plans provide for direct reimbursement to the pet owner or to the veterinarian of their choice. Plans include:
  • Pets First. The premier and highest per incident benefit plan for pet owners.
  • Pets Basic. An economical plan with the same coverage as Pets First with lower per incident limits and higher deductibles, but at a lower cost.
  • Pets Accident. A simplified, inexpensive, specific accident-only plan.
  • Pets Wellness. For an additional premium, pet owners can receive wellness benefits with their Pets First and Pets Basic plans, which includes coverage for spaying/neutering, teeth cleaning, vaccines and annual pet health examinations. Also included in the wellness benefits package are important diagnostic screens, such as EKGs, general health screens, heartworm tests, feline leukemia tests, internal parasite tests and much more.

 

 Pets Best Insurance is entering a field with enormous growth potential. In the U.S. , the pet health insurance market is still virtually untapped, with only five companies offering coverage. A 2002 report by Market Trends states that, while consumer spending on veterinary services has increased by 83 percent since 1996, less than one percent of the more than 136 million dogs and cats in this country are covered by pet insurance. That figure is higher in other parts of the world. In the United Kingdom , for instance, 14 percent of dogs and five percent of cats are covered by about 60 insurers.

Dr. Stephens, who has the most experience in the industry, attributes the lower market penetration in the United States to previous industry restrictions on coverage limitations, too many coverage exclusions, and complicated claims reimbursement processes as reasons why pet insurance has not taken off in the U.S. Additionally, he believes there is a lack of awareness of the many benefits pet insurance can provide pet owners. “More competition and meeting pet owners expectations will be the driving force for future growth,” stated Dr. Stephens, who anticipates increased pet insurance sales in the United States with the launching of his new pet insurance program and his promotion of increased consumer awareness of program benefits.

About Pets Best

Pets Best, headquartered in Boise, Idaho, is a division of General Fire & Casualty Company, which specializes in agribusiness, livestock and animal-related insurance products. The company provides comprehensive insurance plans for pet owners whose pet is a family member. Its insurance plans provide the peace of mind that comes when a pet owner wants “simply the best.”  Pets Best takes pride in offering its policyholders high limits, generous benefits and a variety of options for every budget. Pets Best knows that making the statement, “Simply the best pet insurance,” means it must live up to its name each and every day, and with each and every interaction with its policyholders.

Pets Best offers a generous 80 percent coverage of covered claims (after the deductible), liberal wellness benefits, the ability to choose your own veterinarian, and prompt claims settlement. Pets Best employees understand pet insurance and the needs of pet owners, as Pets Best’s founder, Dr. Jack Stephens, pioneered the pet insurance industry in 1981, has over 30 years of veterinary experience, and has instilled his passion and commitment to pet insurance in each and every one of his employees. For more information, visit
www.petsbest.com or call 877-PETS BEST (738-7237).