10 Ways to Educate Clients About Pet Health Insurance

When veterinarians help grow pet health insurance use, it benefits their clients’ wallets, their patients’ health and their practice’s revenue.
Kerry Lengyel
Published: April 22, 2017
According to research from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) — the association of pet health insurers in North America — the majority of veterinarians wish their clients had pet health insurance. And it’s no wonder. 

Pet health insurance alleviates some of the burden of costly veterinary bills, so these clients are often more willing to agree to the preventive, diagnostic and treatment recommendations you make. So, not only do your patients remain as healthy as possible, but your practice revenue increases.
 
“The use of pet health insurance is growing rapidly, although only a small percentage of pets are currently insured,” said Sue McManus, president of NAPHIA, in a press release. “Pet owners are far more likely to insure their pets if their veterinarians get behind it.”

In fact, NAPHIA reported that 50 percent more pet owners said they would purchase pet health insurance if their veterinarians actively recommend it.

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So, how do veterinarians educate clients about this important service? At the annual meeting of the American Animal Hospital Association last month, John Volk, a senior consultant at Brakke, outlined 10 best practices veterinarians can use to educate their clients about pet health insurance.
 
1. Choose a maximum of two pet insurance companies to support.
Narrowing down the pet health insurance options for your clients makes it easier for them to make a decision. If they are overwhelmed with informational pamphlets from multiple companies, clients likely won’t choose any of them.
 
2. Talk to clients about pet health insurance.
The best way to educate clients about pet health insurance is simply to start the conversation. Brochures are great, but talking face-to-face will give your clients a better understanding of what pet insurance is all about before they do their own research.
 
3. Select one or two team members to be pet insurance specialists.
Designate a full-time receptionist, hospital administrator and/or practice manager to be the go-to team member(s) for clients to explain the insurance options and answer basic questions.
 
4. Add a link on your website to your recommended pet insurance company(ies).
This makes it simple for clients to learn more about your preferred company or companies and gives them easier access to sign up for a plan. Plus, clients will see your practice as helpful and knowledgeable.
 
5. Ask all your clients if they have pet health insurance.
Whenever clients come into your practice or schedule appointments, have your receptionists ask them whether they have pet health insurance. This will allow you to see how many of your patients are insured and how much headway your efforts to spread the word are having.
 
6. For patients that are insured, include the insurance company name and claim number in the patient record.
It’s common practice in human medicine to record a patient’s health insurance information. Doing so in veterinary medicine helps to determine client costs, facilitate reimbursement and make decisions about treatment easier on clients.
 
7. Submit claims on your clients’ behalf, and keep copies of claim forms.
Submitting the claims for your clients not only makes it much more likely that the claims will be paid in a timely manner — which makes your clients happy — but it also saves your team time because they’ll have fewer phone calls to field from insurance companies.
 
8. Give your employees pet insurance as a benefit.
According to the NAPHIA research, 71 percent of pet owners would be more likely to purchase pet insurance if their veterinary practice staff insured their own pets. There are a number of models you can use: Offer insurance for one pet per employee, provide a specific monetary amount toward monthly premiums, or pay an escalating amount based on how long the employee has been with your practice.
 
9. Offer clients 30-day, no-cost trial policies.
Some pet health insurance companies offer 30-day, no-cost introductory policies so pet owners can try out plans without having to make a commitment. Let your clients know about these options if they are available from your chosen insurers.
 
10. Make sure your entire team is behind the effort.
It’s well known that recommendations must often be made multiple times before they are followed. It also helps if the recommendations come from multiple people in the practice. So, make sure everyone on your team is prepared to discuss pet health insurance options with clients. Make it a point to educate your entire staff about which companies your practice recommends and why.

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