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Jewish animals like the best and this man provides it….

On track to becoming the world's biggest pet insurer, Steven Mendel knows what 'Many Pets' want

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Steven Mendel and Satchmo his best mate
Steven Mendel and Satchmo his best mate

If there was a human equivalent of a dog whistle, now would be the time to blow it.

Pet owners need to pay attention while being introduced to Steven Mendel as they might need him one day – or at the very least – the services he provides, as the welfare of the four-legged incumbent living with you, rests in his hands. But we’ll come to that.

What you need to know about Steven is that he’s rarely spotted without a dog and he’s tall. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to actor Hugh Jackman, which, when mentioned makes him blush, but also gets him to the front of the queue at airports and other places.

Steven’s childhood memories are the stuff of Enid Blyton as he was raised with dogs and was frequently squashed beside them in an overloaded car on route to the south coast for blissful summer holidays.

“My parents had dogs before they had children,” says Steven who vividly recalls their individual idiosyncrasies (the dogs not his parents).

“Soames, our golden Labrador, was named after a character in the ‘60’s period drama The Forsyte Saga, who evidently was a very kind, but downtrodden and miserable man. The dog was not downtrodden in any respect but looked very sad because of the way his jowls hung – hence his name. I was 16 when Soames died, but after him my parents got a beautiful black flat coated retriever called Benson named after the butler in the US TV comedy, Soap. That dog was just mad. Wonderful, but mad and not small, so visitors were alarmed when he ran at them at full pace. Not that he ever hurt anyone, he was just enthusiastic.”

Accepting equal pegging in parental affection alongside these pups was never an issue for Steven who talks about all this with great affection, particularly in regard to his mother who became a trainer of hearing dogs who assist the deaf.

“She did that over many years, but now lives in an apartment where she’s not allowed pets, which she’s very sad about. So she comes over to walk our dog instead.”

Everyone wants to know about Steven’s dogs because his personal pet ownership and love of animals somehow legitimises his position as the CEO of ManyPets insurance company. Not that owning dogs or even liking them is a prerequisite, but with so many animal insurance companies vying for custom, it’s nice to know that your Rover, Rex or Felix are not signed up with an ambitious cynophobic or ailurophobic.

 

 

Until a few months ago, ManyPets was known as Bought By Many which was not a pet business at all initially. Well, a bit, because pets did feature in the insurance brokering Steven’s company did when it launched in 2012, but it was really about sourcing niche and indemnity insurance for a more diverse group. Such as diabetics, yoga instructors, mobile hairdressers and landscape gardeners.

“Personal accident insurance for commuting cyclists was another and there was a whole plethora of other stuff,” said Steven. “In fact, at its peak, we were accessing better insurance for 330 different communities. The problem however was that while we could always get a better price and product tailored to the needs of those communities, we could never get a better customer experience. And though people were only buying insurance through us, they still tried to renew with us, to claim from us and complain to us.” Recognising the need, Bought By Many switched from being a digital broker to becoming an insurance provider and pets rose to the fore.

“We ranked all of our 330 communities in terms of engagement and realised pet owners were the ones who engaged the most. So in the summer of 2016, we messaged 120,000 pet owners asking the simple question: ‘If you could design their your perfect insurance policy, what would it look like?’”

Steven and his co-founder Guy Farley received 40,000 responses to that question and off the back of that, announced seven brand new products which had never existed before and reimagined the entire customer experience.

“For the first time in the UK, ManyPets offered insurance to pets with a pre-existing condition,” explained Steven.“Some people also wanted to pay more for their insurance and have absolutely no excess, so that when they claim they get back 100% of their claim. They wanted predictability of the cost of having a pet, so we launched a product with no excess. Something else we did was respond to the people who said they didn’t like the fact that if you don’t claim on your insurance, it has no value. So, we launched and in fact, have since dramatically expanded the idea that, if you don’t claim you can have 20% of your premium back in cash, not as a reduced premium for subsequent years. You just get 20% back.”

With the actioning of these policies, ManyPets has attracted many more people, and with its move into Sweden and America, is fast fulfilling Steven’s dream of becoming the world’s number one pet insurer.

Whether this will of any interest to Steven’s black Labrador puppy Satchmo (The Mendels love jazz) is hard to ascertain, but he knows he’s in good hands. And Satchmo always gets served first when he’s out with Hugh Jackman.

More stories about Steven Mendel and his ‘Many Pets’ in the next Paws for Pets column.

For more info visit: www.manypets.com or call 0345 340 4090

 

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