The power of pet insurance
Which came first?
I think this is a good chicken and egg scenario. A client will certainly be more inclined to visit a veterinarian for a questionable malady (and thus spend more money) if they are insured and know that finances are covered.
When it comes to who initially enrolls in insurance it comes down to people’s financial planning. People who save money are more likely to get better health, home, auto, life and disability insurance to protect that wealth. These are the people who can afford a monthly payment as well.
For people who are not accumulating wealth, another monthly payment is not in their budget and there is little incentive to protect wealth since there are few assets to protect. If an unforeseen incident occurs, that person may look to acquire more debt or decline services.
In my opinion, it’s hard to convince clients to change their mind on pet insurance. That decision is based on their already set financial habits.
Break free from financial handcuffs
I think pet owners spend more because insurance allows veterinarians to practice without the usual financial handcuffs we encounter, although I’m convinced we handcuff ourselves. I think when veterinarians realize a pet owner has insurance they feel they can actually practice medicine and do testing they might otherwise not perform. As a profession we undermine our own authority by not telling the pet owner what to do. Pet owners want to be told what to do if medically justified. Insurance allows veterinarians to practice the way they were taught in school. I say quit thinking for pet owners and be a doctor, not just when a pet is insured.
Broaden insurance usage
The majority of pet owners currently purchasing pet insurance are already utilizing veterinary services more than average. The goal is to broaden pet insurance usage to those less-frequent clinic visitors and users.
Pet owners with insurance, regardless of their previous service utilization habits, will visit veterinarians more frequently. This data supports that notion, although in a limited and early fashion. I have witnessed firsthand the powerful impact pet insurance can have in growing your practice and improving standards of medical care for patients.
The real challenge is how to position pet insurance so that our clients understand what it is and isn’t and what they’re paying for. Veterinarians also need to transcend the notion that pet owners aren’t interested in learning about pet insurance.
Finally, as veterinarians continue to face increased competition from outside service providers, pet insurance will become an important differentiator.
Pet insurance is a vital part of the next wave in the veterinary profession. We’ve progressed from bartering to bargaining to pet insurance.