While veterinary teams are growing more accustomed to recommending pet insurance to their clients, keeping track of all the insurance options available to clients is impossible. In fact, Pawlicy Advisor found that nine out of ten vets don't know which pet insurance to recommend.
don't know which pet insurance to recommend
The good news is we don’t have to become familiar with all the best pet insurance companies or know the ins and outs of each plan to help clients get enrolled. In fact, without an insurance license, veterinary professionals shouldn’t provide specific details of any plan. Instead, they should focus on educating clients and making a strong recommendation to purchase pet insurance to help improve financial preparedness for pet owners.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a pet insurance policy. The deductible, reimbursement amount, coverage limits, and covered services and treatments will vary by company and plan. Premiums are affected by geographic location, pet age and breed, and policy details such as deductible and coverage limits. Veterinary teams should refer their clients to insurance experts like Pawlicy Advisor or individual insurance companies to discuss the nuances of each plan.
Vet teams can educate clients on the basics of how pet insurance works and how it differs from the human medical insurance most are used to. There is no network to navigate, so pet owners can enroll with any insurance company that fits their needs — but they should be prepared to cover the bill up front and receive reimbursement based on the deductible and reimbursement rates for their plan.
Veterinary professionals can also discuss clients' concerns for their pets, especially regarding affordability of care. Does the family want support covering routine preventive care? Are they concerned about an unexpected illness or injury? Would they like to be prepared if their pet requires expensive specialty or emergency care? The best fit for the individual family will vary depending on their priorities.
Ultimately, there is no single company or plan that is the right fit for every pet owner. If the clinic has had a good experience with a particular company, team members can share this opinion when discussing pet insurance with clients as long as they encourage them to do their research and find the plan that best fits their individual needs and goals.
Vets should avoid recommending a singular pet insurance plan or company to clients, because no option is universally better than the rest, since they all suit different needs.
Kate Boatright, VMD
Fortunately, tools like Pawlicy Advisor can help simplify the process of comparing plans by providing expert recommendations based on unique information about each pet and the preferences of each pet owner.
Veterinary teams may be most comfortable recommending pet insurance for puppies and kittens or young, healthy pets, but pet insurance can still benefit other pet families. Understanding how to approach conversations about pet insurance in the “what if” situations can improve the comfort of veterinary teams in answering client questions about pet insurance.
Owners of adult dogs may have more limited options for insurance coverage as some insurance companies have age caps on enrollment. However, patient age should not dissuade veterinary teams from educating clients about pet insurance.
Clients who are adopting an adult pet or asking about insurance for their aging senior should consider the value of the investment. Veterinary teams can help clients assess this value by discussing the patient's current health, the potential for future illnesses and injuries, and the client’s overall goals for their pet’s care.
A common time for clients to ask about pet insurance is during a sick visit when their pet has been diagnosed with a specific condition, especially if it requires costly treatment, such as a cruciate ligament tear or foreign body surgery. Pet insurance may still be an excellent decision for the pet family, so long as they understand that pre-existing conditions will be excluded.
But it’s not quite as simple as a “yes” or “no” on coverage for pre-existing conditions because companies distinguish between curable and incurable conditions. Curable conditions , such as a urinary tract infection, may be covered in the future after a waiting period defined by the company. Incurable conditions , such as allergies, are unlikely ever to be considered for insurance coverage.
Veterinary teams should never try to predict how a company will classify a given condition. However, they can encourage clients to reach out to specific pet insurance companies to discuss what may or may not be covered in the future. They can also point clients to tools like Pawlicy Advisor to find clear breakdowns of coverage and limitations, free of charge.
44% of vets
discuss pet insurance often or very often
Over 40% of veterinary professionals currently discuss insurance often or very often, according to a recent Pawlicy Advisor survey.
'As this number grows, veterinary teams should reflect on how pet insurance enrollment decreases the stress of caring for a pet when they are ill or injured. It can provide a financial safety net so families can focus on the care, not the cost.
Veterinary teams can rest easy knowing they can focus on educating clients about the benefits of pet insurance without needing to select a particular company to recommend or keep track of the growing insurance options. Instead, they can send their clients to experts like Pawlicy Advisor to learn how pet insurance works, compare plans, and find the right solution to support the well-being of their four-legged friend.
A Team Approach to Financial Conversations in Clinical Practice
Over the next several months, Dr. Boatright will explore ways to help reduce the stress of financial conversations and help to prepare pet owners for the costs of pet ownership — both expected and unexpected.
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Dr. Kate Boatright, VMD, works as a small animal general practitioner, freelance speaker, and author in western Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with her veterinary degree in 2013, she has worked throughout Pennsylvania as both a general practice and emergency veterinarian. Both in the clinic and outside of it, Dr. Boatright enjoys building relationships with her clients and educating pet owners on how they can keep their pets as healthy as possible. She loves being a veterinarian and educating students and colleagues on wellness, communication, and the unique challenges facing recent graduates. Outside of the clinic, she is active in many veterinary organizations, enjoys running, watching movies, and playing games with her husband, son, and cats.