Prominent local venture fund Maveron is betting big on health-care coverage — for pets. Seattle-based Maveron, which has backed consumer-oriented...

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Prominent local venture fund Maveron is betting big on health-care coverage — for pets.

Seattle-based Maveron, which has backed consumer-oriented companies such as Cranium and eBay, is leading a $22 million investment in pet-insurance firm Trupanion, the companies said Wednesday.

Trupanion, the U.S. incarnation of a Canadian pet-insurance firm founded in 2000, will use the money to “aggressively expand across the United States,” said Chief Executive Darryl Rawlings. The company will market directly to thousands of local veterinary clinics; the company also plans on talking to employers that could offer pet insurance as an employee benefit.

The U.S. market offers great growth opportunities, because there are 176 million cats and dogs, yet very few pet owners pay for insurance, Rawlings said.

The company, which moved to Seattle last April and started selling insurance in the U.S. in January, allows pet owners to start buying insurance only when their puppies and kittens are less than 1 year old, and provides $20,000 in coverage throughout the pet’s lifetime.

The average monthly premium for a cat is more than $20, and for a dog more than $30, Rawlings said.

By opening its doors only to young animals, the company can minimize claim rejections due to pre-existing conditions. Rawlings said Trupanion approves 19 out of 20 claims and reimburses 90 percent of the expenses. Trupanion owns its own U.S. insurance firm.

The company, headquartered in Mountlake Terrace, has an in-house staff of 26.

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com