While the majority of Americans are pet owners, a mere 2 percent have health insurance for their animals, according to industry research. Woody Mawhinney, who owns a Great Dane and Shar-Pei, believes this aversion is largely due to how complicated pet insurance shopping is.
In 2018, he and co-founder Travis Bloom launched Pawlicy Advisor, a pet insurance marketplace that makes it easier for pet parents to compare policies and find the best deals according to their dog or cat’s specific age, breed and health issues. The company announced Tuesday it raised $1 million in a seed round led by Defy Partners.
“We see ourselves as a trusted advisor for pet health and happiness,” Mawhinney told Built In. “Our mission is for pets to be treated, loved and cared for as equals.”
The company's origin dates back to 2015, when Wrigley, Mawhinney’s Shar-Pei — a dog breed known for its especially wrinkly skin — was diagnosed with a genetic disease at just a few months old.
“I picked out Wrigley because he was adorable. It turns out, the same gene that gave him those cute wrinkles also gave him Shar-Pei fever,” Mawhinney said. “Even my vet hadn’t heard of it before, so I was left to navigate the search for insurance policies on my own. I thought, jeez, if I, a risk consultant, find all this difficult, what does the average pet owner face?”
Pawlicy Advisor was designed to save pet owners time and money. Users plug in their pet’s information and the platform “fetches” real-time prices from pet insurance companies. The company’s software also analyzes expected price increases and breed-specific health risks to find a plan that works for both pets and their owners. The idea is to make sure pet parents are prepared for everything from accidents to chronic conditions to routine care.
The New York-based company makes veterinarians’ lives easier, too.
“Vets are constantly sent brochures from different pet insurance providers,” Mawhinney explained. “A vet goes into this profession because they want to treat pets. While they like the idea of making pet care more affordable, they don’t want to talk about insurance all the time.”
So, Pawlicy Advisor provides a one-stop platform where pet practitioners can educate both themselves and their clients on the best policies. The hope is to simplify the conversations around pet insurance so that more vets will feel comfortable discussing insurance with their clients and, in turn, more pet owners will purchase policies.
Mawhinney says this most recent funding allowed Pawlicy Advisor to build out its team by hiring a veterinary success specialist, product designer and director of marketing. The money will also go toward deeper integration with veterinary software, optimizing the platform and exploring additional health-based product offerings to expand its distribution channels.
Going forward, Mawhinney sees Pawlicy Advisor as the go-to site for both pet parents and veterinarians to give the animals in their charge the best and healthiest life possible.
“The future is bright for Pawlicy Advisor,” Mawhinney said. “We’re just at the starting line.”