Seattle's Trupanion goes public with more bark than meow

SEATTLE -- Seattle based pet insurer Trupanion rose 14 percent on its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It made for a joyful day at their Ballard offices where dogs and cats mingle freely with their owners who man phones handing customer calls.

The company raised nearly $71 million after dropping its initial pricing from roughly $15 a share to $10.

Trupanion says it insures roughly 181,000 dogs and cats and plans to utilize the new capital to expand and cover debt payments. The company sees an opportunity to expand the U.S. market because of numbers it sees in Europe.

"One percent of pet owners in the U.S. have pet insurance, but compare that to Sweden where 40-percent of pet owners have insurance," says Trupanion CTO Craig Susen.

Trupanion wants to eliminate economic euthanasia, the dreadful decision pet owners face when they decide to put down an animal because the cost of veterinary care is too high.

"We have one simple plan that all of our policy holders have," says Director of Business Intelligence TJ Houk. After a deductible, the pet owners pays 10 percent to the vet and Trupanion pays the remaining 90 percent directly to the vet.

"We are building out technology now that will allow for the pet owners to go in, figure out whether they are pre-approved within five minutes of being there," says Susen referring to a trip to the vet.

The company was founded in 1998 and currently employs over 300 people. Dogs and cats at work are a big part of Trupanion's culture.

"We have about 150 dogs coming into the office every day," says Business Development Manager Lisa Marcotte. Marcotte frequently brings in Jasper, a near duplicate of the cartoon character Garfield, and roughly his size.

"I think today makes it possible for us to keep doing what we are passionate about which is helping these guys," says Marcotte of the IPO.

Trupanion closed Friday up $1.40 at $11.40.