How to talk to clients about pet insurance

Why keeping it simple is the best approach.

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The smartest way to approach pet insurance is simply, according to the 2022 recipient of the Veterinary Heroes® Award in the category of practice management. Trying to get clients to buy into pet insurance can feel complicated, but Matt McGlasson, DVM, CVPM, chief medical officer at Noah’s Ark Animal Clinics, said that when talking with clients about pet insurance, the goal is to keep it simple.

In the latest episode of dvm360 Live!™, McGlasson sat down with Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, the host and dvm360®’s chief veterinary officer, to discuss pet insurance and how to have a conversation with clients.

Keeping pet insurance simple

From the receptionist to the technician and even in the exam room, keep recommendations for pet insurance simple. “We don’t have tons of time to have a really long-drawn-out conversation with clients,” McGlasson said. “We’re really limited in the time we have, so pick 2 insurance companies that you trust and have their brochures ready in the exam room.”

Consider which insurance companies have a credible and dependable track record. In addition, think about ones you have had positive experiences with.

Pet insurance companies are making it simple for pet parents to decide on the best plan for them. Insurance companies break out plans into 2 categories: a percentage of the invoice or a benefit schedule to calculate reimbursement. From there, it is a matter of coverage (what is and isn’t covered), price, and value.

So when is the best time to talk with clients about pet insurance? McGlasson says at their first puppy visit. His clinic asks clients if they have considered what would happen if their pet had to have exploratory surgery at the emergency clinic on a weekend. “That could [cost] $5000, $6000, or $7000,” he said. Asking your clients whether they are prepared to pay that type of cost is a good first step.

“Pet insurance is just a tool for clients to get the care they want for their pet,” McGlasson pointed out. It can also help alleviate other financial concerns, even compassion fatigue, and eliminate economic euthanasia, he said.

While pet insurance can help veterinarians practice medicine that works best for the patient and the pet family, the United States still only has about 2.5% of the pet population insured. “Statistics [show that] people are getting pet insurance more frequently these days, but we still have a long way to go,” McGlasson said. “We are really way behind a lot of the countries in Europe. And we know from the research that pet parents who have pet insurance are more likely to get the care that their pet needs, and they are more likely to stay with the practice long term.”

McGlasson pointed out that owners having pet insurance alleviates a lot of the stress on his staff and, again, helps them perform their job in the best possible manner.

Pet insurance for the stars

In the next segment Christman was joined by Chrissy Joy, a celebrity dog trainer and entertainer. She trains canines that have appeared in film, commercials, television, and print. She brought her pets Beasley, Darby, and Whidbey—who recently stared in the film Junkyard Dogs—to the set.

Joy explained that it is important for her working dogs to be insured. On top of typical puppy issues and dangers, her canines face additional challenges that make having pet insurance paramount. “They do a lot of work with me, but with that comes risk,” said Joy. “There’s travel, we do competitive sports, [and] even just going in your backyard…you just never know…so I want them to
be protected.”