Our First Territory
Alberta Territory Partner, Karen Belanger, and Trupanion's very first field representative shares her story of how she became a part of Trupanion and is still with us over ten years later.
I remember the day that I was introduced to Trupanion (formerly Vetinsurance) very clearly. It was the year 2000 and I was attending the University of Victoria and working part-time at the Juan De Fuca Veterinary Clinic. It was an unusually quiet day at the clinic and I was happily completing my duties as receptionist and veterinary assistant when in walked two gentlemen, Darryl and David. They were there to meet with Dr. Basterfield and talk about pet insurance. I was familiar with the concept of pet insurance but wasn’t well versed in the details. They were in the exam room for quite a while and when the two gentlemen left, Dr. Basterfield placed a brochure in front of me. He stated “This is a brand new pet insurance company called Vetinsurance and we are going to start recommending them. I think they’re going to be really big one day”.
I read through the black and white brochure with a picture of a beautiful, soulful dog on the front and was immediately drawn to it. There was something about the simplicity and great coverage that made me an immediate believer.
Mufassa, Karen's cat
From that day forward I became Vetinsurance’s biggest advocate. I would recommend Vetinsurance to every pet owner that walked through the door. I did my research and knew that Vetinsurance offered the best pet insurance coverage out there.
Over the next few years, I would spot the Vetinsurance car driving by and catch myself wanting to flag them down. I remember waiting by that parked car for such a long time that I eventually gave up and decided I would catch them another day.
I graduated from University with my BSc in Biology. I was at a crossroads of what to do with my life. I moved back to my home town of Calgary and was working at another veterinary hospital as a receptionist and veterinary assistant. I brought my knowledge of Vetinsurance to that hospital as well and encouraged all pet owners to enroll. It was absolutely heartbreaking for me to see pet owners sacrifice their pet’s well-being or euthanize their pets because they couldn’t afford the veterinary treatment. Those scenarios not only affect the pet and pet owner, but also the veterinarian and their team. I remember many times going home after work and having a good cry because of the poor family that had to say good-bye to their pet that day. Many of these traumatic events could have been easily prevented if they had had pet insurance. Vetinsurance just made sense to me, so I continued to be a walking advertisement for them.
I finally decided to take control of my passion and contact Vetinsurance directly in 2003. I simply faxed in my resume and called up the company and asked to speak to the president. I think Darryl (founder/CEO) probably answered the phone at the time since the company was still in the beginning stages. I told him flat out “I want to work for you”. I think Darryl was a bit taken aback and told me that he wasn’t hiring at that time but to call him back in 3 months. 3 months to the day, I called him back “It’s me again. Are you hiring yet?”
Darryl then proceeded to tell me about a business model that he was developing for a position called a Territory Partner. His father David had been representing Vetinsurance out in the veterinary field but Darryl wanted to try a different concept under a unique business model. A Territory Partner would own their own business and focus on educating the veterinary community. I was intrigued.
He invited me out to Vancouver to meet in person and have lunch. I had to borrow $200 from my parents to fly out to Vancouver. Darryl and I hit it off right away and after our meeting, he decided to let me be the guinea pig for the Territory Partner model. I was impressed with Darryl’s vision and I was eager to sign the agreement.
I worked part-time at a boarding kennel on weekends for the first year that I was a Territory Partner. I didn’t take a single day off for over a year. I was determined to make this model work and to succeed in getting more pets enrolled with Vetinsurance. I knew that more pets with pet insurance would result in happy pet owners and veterinarians. I was making a difference and having fun!
Ten years later, I am still a Territory Partner with Vetinsurance (now Trupanion). My husband Chris joined me as a Territory Partner in 2008 and we recently brought on another member, Lee, to our team. I still wake up every single day with the drive to get more pets enrolled with Trupanion. I personally don’t know very many people who can say they wake up and look forward to their day of work ahead. I love the versatility of both office work and visiting veterinary clinics on the road. Being a Territory Partner has allowed me to have the best of both worlds. I feel good about my position in helping to grow the bond between pet owners and their beloved furry friends. I know that what I do is improving the lives of dogs and cats in North America. I am fortunate enough to combine my passion for animals and my entrepreneurial drive into a business that I love. I am an animal lover through and through.
That visit from Darryl and David at the Juan De Fuca Veterinary Clinic in 2000 impacted my life drastically. That was the very first veterinary practice that Darryl walked into to promote his business. It was simply meant to be. Every time I walk into a veterinary practice and a pet owner proceeds to hug me because Trupanion saved their pet’s life, I think back to that life changing day and thank my lucky stars that I was at the right place at the right time.