What pet owners don’t know (and what you can teach them) (Sponsored by Veterinary Pet Insurance)

What pet owners don’t know (and what you can teach them) (Sponsored by Veterinary Pet Insurance)

Myth: Clients will blame veterinary practices if they aren’t happy with pet insurance. Fact: Pet owners understand their policies come from a third party.
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Nov 07, 2014
By dvm360.com staff

You want your clients to walk away from your practice happy every time. And you want Bella and Baxter to get all the care they need, every time. But sometimes you worry … what if you recommend pet insurance, and clients don’t like the product. A recent survey of veterinary teams revealed the common myths team members believe about pet insurance. In the last part of this three-part series, we explore the No. 1 myth about pet insurance: Dissatisfied pet insurance customers will blame their veterinary practices.

Myth: When a client is dissatisfied with a pet insurance provider, it reflects on our practice instead of on the pet insurance company.

Fact: Pet insurance is a product pet owners purchase through a third party. So when you speak to pet owners about pet insurance, remember that your goal is to educate them about a beneficial service for their pets, not to sell them insurance, says Dr. Amanda Donnelly, MBA, owner of ALD Veterinary Consulting.

Dr. Andy Roark, a veterinary practitioner in Greenville, S.C., and the founder and managing director of Tall Oaks Enterprises veterinary consulting firm, agrees. He says the practice must serve as a resource, and this starts with the practice selecting a few pet insurance companies they believe in to recommend to pet owners. When you decide which pet insurance providers make the cut at your practice, tell pet owners why you chose those companies—and how they made the cut to be recommended in your new-pet packets. A bonus: Including the brochures in your new-pet packets reminds you to mention pet insurance when you’re educating pet owners, so you don’t skip this important discussion.

Dr. Jessica Downing, a co-owner of Valley Cottage Animal Hospital in Valley Cottage, N.Y., agrees it’s best to select only a few insurance providers to recommend based on clients’ experiences with the companies. She says she will work with any pet insurance the pet owner chooses, but she tries not to give too many options that will confuse pet owners.

Clients will be most satisfied with pet insurance if they know how to use it effectively. While your team members don’t sell pet insurance, there is a benefit to knowing how pet insurance works and guiding pet owners to be savvy pet insurance users, Dr. Downing says. For example, you could boost clients’ satisfaction with their insurance by encouraging them to understand their policies and coverage.

“It takes some homework, but if you do it you can have the insurance work for you,” Dr. Downing says.

At Valley Cottage Animal Hospital, Receptionist Ruth Bryden says she often requests a copy of clients’ claim forms for their pet insurance to keep in the pet’s medical record. This way, it’s easy for the doctor to fill out the form with all the information needed, reducing the chance the claim will be denied. Bryden says it ultimately improves your reputation with clients and reinforces the value of your recommendations. Despite the lingering belief that pet insurance requires too much paperwork for clients and clinic staff, having a copy of the claim form in the patient record and filling out a form at the time of a visit may require less time than having a client return to the clinic to ask for help later. Also, some pet insurance companies have easy-to-use online claim forms, eliminating some of the paperwork.

It may also help to remind pet owners that their policy through the pet insurance company is transferrable to other practices. So if their pet needs to see a specialist, the policy works for them regardless of who provides the care, Dr. Downing says. This not only sends the message that the insurance is from a third party, it also reinforces the policy’s value, since pet owners can still use insurance if their pets need care elsewhere.