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Health Insurance for the Furry

Men have it. Women have it. Children have it. Why shouldn't pets have health insurance, too?

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This story appears in the November 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

Working in the insurance business for 12 years made Charles Mazzini curious about something: If people get health insurance for their spouses and children, why don't they get coverage for their pets? Discussing his idea with veterinarians showed Mazzini how big the market for this service could be. "There was a statistic [that] over 80 percent of people do not do yearly vaccinations [for their pets]," says Mazzini, 37.

Cost is usually a factor keeping families from getting their pets vaccinated or even having surgery. To help pet owners, Mazzini founded American Pet Plan Inc. in 1995. The Houston-based insurance company offers coverage for everything from hamsters to horses, at minimal cost: $50 a year for the first pet, $25 for each additional pet, and doctor visits are $5 ($10 for exams). Twenty percent is taken off the bill for X-rays, lab work and surgery.

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