Veterinarians: Answering Questions about Pet Insurance

by Katharine on March 10, 2010

If you are a veterinarian, you probably are finding that a lot of your clients have questions about pet insurance that you may or may not know how to answer.  These questions are normal, and simply reflect your clients’ skepticism of an industry they consider new and slightly mysterious.  Although more and more people are getting health insurance for their pets, there are still many more without it, and it’s hard to take on another monthly expense without understanding what it is and why it is important.

Here are some of the most common questions about pet insurance, and how you can answer them.

Q: Why do I need pet insurance?
A: Insurance is a way of making the cost of pet care, particularly large expenses such as surgery, more manageable over the long term.  Instead of paying very little for years, and then being hit with expensive procedures as your pet ages, with pet insurance you pay low monthly premiums and pay less on shots, surgery, and other procedures.

Q: How does pet insurance work?
A: When you take your pet to the vet, you are responsible for paying for it up front.  Afterward you simply submit your claim to the insurance company, and they reimburse you for their share of the cost.  Pet insurance companies are usually pretty good about reimbursing claims quickly and without a lot of fuss.

Q: What does pet insurance cover?
A: Just like health insurance for people, pet insurance policies can vary on how much of your veterinary costs they cover.  When shopping for pet insurance, be sure to look at each policy’s coverage, such as the cost of the policy, copays, deductibles, what percentage or dollar amount of various procedures is covered, and what limits or exclusions the policy has.

Q: Will pre-existing conditions be covered?
A: Also like health insurance for people, pre-existing conditions are often not covered — or have limited covereage.  That is why the time to think about getting pet insurance is when your pet is young and health, instead of waiting until something is wrong.

Q: How much does pet insurance cost?
A: Pet insurance is fairly affordable, with most monthly premiums ranging between $10 and $50.  Average is about $25-$30 a month.  Similar to health insurance for people, the cost of your policy is influenced by certain factors, such as breed.

Q: What is the difference between pet insurance and a wellness plan?
A: A wellness plan, which some vets are starting to offer, is a program where the client pays a low monthly cost — usually about $20 or $25 — to cover the annual costs of care, such as a yearly physical and immunizations.  In a wellness plan, you are paying the vet each month, so you don’t have to pay for visits up front and wait to be reimbursed.  However, a wellness plan typically does not cover emergency expenses, which pet insurance does – a wellness plan is simply for making the expense of routine care more manageable.

If your clients are coming to you with questions about pet insurance, it is your job as their veterinarian to be able to answer them.  The key is having short, succinct answers at the ready for the most common questions.  Feel free to use the questions and answers above to help you decide what to say!

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