After "many years" in negotiation, Petplan, the Newtown Square pet health insurer founded by husband-and-wife Brit-expat Wharton grads Chris and Natasha Ashton, says it has cut a "first and exclusive" multi-year marketing deal with the 38 million+ member American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

"The offer goes live in October," Chris, a former Royal Marine officer, told me. Outreach to AARP's "massive membership will transform awareness for pet insurance and Petplan," he predicted. AARP will collect royalties as the business grows. Ashton won't say how much.

Petplan employs more than 130 at its headquarters, where staff are encouraged to bring well-trained pets to work with them. Petplan markets policies issued by global insurer Allianz, unlike rival Trupanion, whose American Pet Insurance Co. underwrites its own policies. Trupanion went public in July at $10 a share and now trades around at $8.50.

The Ashtons and their backers hope to boost U.S. pet insurance from the current base of under 2 million, or less than 2 percent, to around the 25 percent level of pet owners they say own insurance in the U.K. and some other north European nations. More here.

Chris Ashton uses the business title "Left Paw;" Natasha Ashton is the firm's "Right Paw." Their dogs include Wellington (Cavalier) and Montgomery (English toy spaniel.) The firm is backed by investors including Commerce Bank founder Vernon Hill, who also lets dogs visit his companies, too.