Why you should get your practice pumped about pet insurance

by By Chrissy McGregor

12 min read

Aslan, the author's mastiff dogI love pet insurance. There, I said it. Full disclosure, I did work in pet insurance for 7 years, but even now I am still very passionate about it. I also may be a bit biased, but I learned from the best; helping cultivate this passion. I’ve experienced pet insurance at the hospital level, at the industry level, and as a pet owner, giving me a well-rounded view on the subject.  

Meet Aslan — my goofy, lovable, million-dollar mastiff. Ok, maybe not a million dollars, but this bug guys has racked up almost $50k in medical bills in the first five years of his life. Pet insurance made a lot of his care possible. 

In my experience working in pet insurance, everyone from the top-down was dedicated to changing the pet insurance industry for the better. Improving coverage, helping pet owners, and making things easier for veterinary hospitals was a priority. I was proud to be a part of this change – especially having experienced this process from the other side working at a veterinary hospital. I’ll admit, early on there was a lot of room for improvement.

A number of veterinarians and practice managers are still resistant to the idea of pet insurance, though a lot of progress has been made and more are seeing the value every day. Fears of coverage being denied or misunderstood, tons of administrative work, and pet insurance dictating veterinary medicine contribute to some of the resistance. 

However, things have dramatically changed; I’m going to let the cat out of the bag and tell you why you should get pumped about pet insurance.  

How today’s pet insurance benefits your practice

1: Practice better medicine

We do what we do because of our love for pets. Pet insurance enables patients to get the gold standard of care because clients are more willing and able to move forward with the best possible treatment plan recommended. Pet insurance takes cost out of the care equation and lets veterinarians get back to practicing the best medicine.

2: Experience a smoother insurance process

Pet insurance companies are utilizing technology to the fullest to make things easier for your practice and pet owners; utilizing emails vs. fax and apps vs. paper claim forms are some of the more common ways. You’ll be happy to hear that some pet insurance companies even no longer require a claim form to be filled out by the hospital. Others are integrating with the hospital Practice Management Software for a smoother process of obtaining records and invoices. Pretty neat. Faxing claim forms and records is so 2000… embrace new technology to simplify your pet insurance experience.

3: Offer clients more options 

There are now almost 20 pet insurance companies in the United States. Competition is a good thing because it has really forced them to up their game. Many companies now cover just about everything a pet would need, that historically have been excluded – hereditary/genetic conditions, chronic conditions, and even alternative therapies. There are all sorts of different plans and coverage options to meet clients’ needs and budgets. With customizable plans and more comprehensive coverage, loopholes and gotchas are rare; most companies cover what they say they’ll cover.

4: Increase pet owner compliance

Owners with pet insurance not only come in more, but they also come in earlier. They are less likely to wait until the situation is dire, hopefully leading to a better outcome for the pet. Pet insurance may also help with compliance from a recheck standpoint and regular follow up on chronic cases. You can think of pet insurance as a marker of a VIP pet owner, one that is invested in the health of their pet.

5: Boost staff morale

It’s no secret that burnout and compassion fatigue are plaguing the veterinary industry. Having to provide substandard care due to finances and economic euthanasia certainly contributes to this issue. More clients with pet insurance can actually help though. Veterinary staff members feel more fulfilled when able to do more than just an exam and symptomatic treatment. It is refreshing to not have to worry about clients’ inability to pay or those tough financial conversations. Increase your employee satisfaction by increasing the rate of pet insurance adoption in your practice.

And speaking of employees – veterinary staff need pet insurance too! Offering pet insurance as an employee benefit (even just a small subsidy) allows your team to practice what they preach in regard to the best medicine for their own furry family. This especially comes in handy for emergency and specialty visits – the costly things that insurance is really meant for.

6: Increase your bottom line 

Getting on board with pet insurance just makes financial sense for both veterinary hospitals and pet owners. A 2016 North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) study found that pet owners with insurance spent 29% more on dogs and 81% more on cats. Pet insurance lets you say goodbye to more of those uncomfortable billing conversations while increasing your practice’s bottom line!

On the other hand, it also allows your clients to plan and budget for a known monthly expense (premiums) vs. the financial crisis that can occur when faced with a very large veterinary bill. No one wants to see their clients in this position and savings accounts are unfortunately not a feasible option for many; because, let’s face it – life happens. Pet insurance truly is a financial win-win.

Take action — Your practice’s role in pet insurance

pet owner holding hands with their dog, with a heart shaped spot on its pawWarming up to the idea and wondering what your role should be at the hospital?  

As with all other things pet health-related, client education is necessary. Simple, but proactive discussions and recommendations should be taking place. Do some research and choose one or two companies to partner with. Share success stories. Ultimately, the choice is up to your clients, but narrowing down options and giving them a solid starting point leads to a less overwhelming experience – and, in turn, hopefully action.  

Ask clients if they have pet insurance upon check-in or include this question on intake forms to get them thinking. It also helps start the conversation. Yes, it’s another thing to talk about and there is a small amount of work involved for insurance claims, but hopefully you agree that the points above make it worth it for the pet, the client, and your practice. 

“Think of the pet insurance process as providing an additional service for your VIP clients.”

It’s an important early step to take to help ensure planning for the unexpected and may be your clients’ means of affording their pets lifelong care. So, let’s get PUMPED about pet insurance now!

Chrissy McGregor

Chrissy McGregor

Chrissy McGregor is a Veterinarian Recruiter for THRIVE Affordable Vet Care. She is passionate about veterinary medicine and has contributed her knowledge and expertise through numerous roles in the industry over the past 17 years. In addition to working at the hospital level as a technician, Chrissy has also held positions in Veterinary Sales, Sales Management, Training and Development, and Veterinary Recruiting. In her free time, Chrissy can be found on the volleyball courts and softball fields or planning her next vacation. Her other full-time job consists of caring for and doting on her 5 treasured, but extra needy pets; Bella, Aslan, Franklin, Ben, and Theodore.

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