The old adage “Work smarter, not harder” is applying to an insurance company.

With tens of thousands of reimbursements going out each month, since 2006 Embrace Pet Insurance has been offering “nose to tail” coverage through customizable accident and illness insurance plans for dog and cat owners to keep their furry family members healthy and protected. Pet owners can visit the website to receive a quote and after selecting a policy to fit their needs, they can download the mobile app to manage their account, live chat with pet professionals 24/7 and navigate claims.

After visiting a veterinarian, specialist or emergency clinic, policyholders can submit their claim by email, mail, fax or by direct upload through the mobile application. Once a claim is approved for reimbursement, this triggers someone from Embrace Pet Insurance to process the reimbursement the customer’s choice of either a paper check or direct deposit via ACH transfer. Prior to working with Dwolla, the previous method for processing reimbursements via direct deposit took nearly four hours each day, in addition to processing paper checks.

Embrace Pet Insurance Business Case Diagram

Claims approved for reimbursement in the early afternoon would not be processed for payment until the next business day—at the earliest—because Embrace team members were needing to spend time on other aspects of their jobs.

“For example, if we had 300 requests for payments come in, we had to do data entry 300 times and as we’ve continued to grow that became a very inefficient process,” says Eric Wainscott, Senior Controller at Embrace Pet Insurance. “It was always kind of known that we needed a better solution, so we started evaluating businesses to help.”

The pet-friendly team started embracing that old adage: Work smarter, not harder.

Since integrating with Dwolla in 2017, Embrace Pet Insurance has been able to offer its customers reimbursements directly to a bank account with an ACH transfer in an easy, secure manner. Today, almost half of their total reimbursements are issued via an electronic ACH payment. Policyholders are being reimbursed five days faster compared to using a check—which takes nearly a week to receive after being issued—and the company is saving thousands of dollars each month.

Since 2018, Embrace Pet Insurance has paid out more than $126 million in claims.

“The time savings component is huge for us, as we would have had to hire an additional employee to support our previous payment processes,” Wainscott says. “Dwolla saves us time and provides us with great customer service, with responses on the same day. When dealing with service providers that’s rare.”

Embracing a Digital Transformation

As Embrace Pet Insurance started searching for a more efficient reimbursement solution, it was a collaborative effort across accounting, engineering and strategic teams. Wainscott says the key components they were looking for in an integration included:

  • ACH processing capabilities
  • Reliable technology
  • Cost efficient

Because Embrace Pet Insurance does “a high volume of payments,” each month, they were looking for a payment provider that didn’t charge a per-transfer fee.

“Especially considering the daily payment volume and anticipated growth,” Wainscott says. “Dwolla’s pricing structure allowed us to access this value.”

The Embrace Pet Insurance team ruled out building their own payment integration directly with their banking partner because of the data storage and management aspect—something they were not comfortable doing.

“We needed someone that could securely handle that information,” Wainscott says.

The payment integration with Dwolla took just over three months to complete.

Matt Seifert is a Full Stack Developer at Embrace Pet Insurance and said, “It was easy to integrate our API with the Dwolla API. The documentation was straightforward and super easy to test. The user experience with the integration components was a big deal for me. It was easy to navigate and I could find what I needed.”

Seifert said the Dwolla Sandbox, developer documentation and code samples were helpful when building the integration and still are today. He values the ability to test new features and functionality before entering them into production.

Technical Information

1. Transfer Initiated via the Dwolla API to fund Dwolla Master Balance

POST https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/transfers
Accept: application/vnd.dwolla.v1.hal+json
Content-Type: application/vnd.dwolla.v1.hal+json
Authorization: Bearer {{token}}
Idempotency-Key: {{idempotencyKey}}
{
  "_links": {
      "source": {
          "href": "https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/funding-sources/{{EmbraceBankFundingSourceId}}"
      },
      "destination": {
          "href": "https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/funding-sources/{{PolicyHolderFundingSourceId}}"
      }
  },
  "amount": {
      "currency": "USD",
      "value": "10.00"
  },
}
...
HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Location: https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/transfers/{{transferId}}

2. Transfer Initiated to Send Funds Received by the End User

POST https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/mass-payments
Accept: application/vnd.dwolla.v1.hal+json
Content-Type: application/vnd.dwolla.v1.hal+json
Authorization: Bearer {{token}}
Idempotency-Key: {{idempotencyKey}}
{
   "_links": {
       "source": {
           "href": "https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/funding-sources/{{EmbraceBalanceFundingSourceId}}"
       }
   },
   "items": [
     {
       "_links": {
           "destination": {
               "href": "https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/funding-sources/{{CustomerABankFundingSourceId}}"
           }
       },
       "amount": {
           "currency": "USD",
           "value": "100.00"
       }
     },
     {
       "_links": {
           "destination": {
               "href": "https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/funding-sources/{{CustomerBBankFundingSourceId}}"
           }
       },
       "amount": {
           "currency": "USD",
           "value": "200.00"
       }
     },
     {
       "_links": {
           "destination": {
               "href": "https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/funding-sources/{{CustomercBankFundingSourceId}}"
           }
       },
       "amount": {
           "currency": "USD",
           "value": "300.00"
       }
     }
   ]
}
…
HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Location: https://api-sandbox.dwolla.com/mass-payments/{{masspayId}}

Embrace Pet Insurance onboards thousands of policyholders on a monthly basis. Implementing ACH payments has allowed their customers to claim reimbursements 5 days faster than with a paper check.

Wainscott says adoption of direct deposit with ACH transfers continues to increase among their customers, providing even higher cost-savings for the organization.

“We recommend and strongly encourage our customers to use ACH,” Wainscott says. “At the end of the day, we want to provide the best experience for our customers. Providing them with an option to get them their reimbursement sooner and save us money is a win-win.”

Embracing Employers

Embrace Pet Insurance continues growing and expanding its offerings. In addition to the consumer-facing product that any pet owner can sign up for on the website, employers are now offering pet insurance as a benefit to their employees.

“We’re an insurance company that has developed partnerships with businesses, vets and pet care products,” says Lauren Hoffman-Noark, Senior Manager of Business Development at Embrace Pet Insurance. “Employers who bring us on get a 10 percent discount (with exceptions in Hawaii, Florida, North Dakota and Tennessee). Then we create a custom onboarding experience to get a quote and make a purchase, ensuring the employee gets the discount and has a positive experience.”

In addition to its accident and illness insurance, Embrace Pet Insurance offers a wellness plan (with exceptions in Rhode Island) to help pet owners budget for routine veterinary care, training and grooming services. Telemedicine veterinary visits are eligible for coverage and each policy includes 24/7 PawSupport for owners to speak with pet professionals using video or online chats. Pet-related charities also receive $2 of every policy sold.

“We needed a solution like Dwolla to help us scale,” Seifert says. “Dwolla has been great to have.”

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