Team talking points for pet insurance

What should your team say when clients ask about pet insurance? Kate Boatright, VMD, has some pointers on how to make strong recommendations without saying too much.

By Kate Boatright, VMD

Our clients look to us as experts on their pet’s health. With a growing awareness of pet insurance as one way to offset the expense of pet healthcare, more clients are approaching veterinary teams with questions. All team members should be familiar with some basic information about pet insurance and where to direct clients who want to learn more.  

Reasons to recommend pet insurance 

Finances are the most common barrier to veterinary care experienced by pet owners, according to the 2018 Access to Veterinary Care Coalition Report. A 2023 survey of pet owners from Synchrony found that one in three pet owners will experience an unexpected expense that will cause worry, and, for 25% of pet owners, a bill exceeding $250 will cause financial hardship. Pet insurance is one tool that can decrease the financial stresses of veterinary care, though it is not the right fit for all families. 

Additionally, several reports have indicated that having pet insurance is associated with an increase in veterinary visits and spending at the veterinary clinic, which benefits practice health. Nearly half of veterinary teams frequently discuss pet insurance with their clients according to a recent survey by Pawlicy Advisor. These teams appreciate the decreased stress for pet owners and higher levels of care for pets seen with pet insurance. 

How to make a strong recommendation 

One of the best times to recommend pet insurance is during new pet examinations. These pets are usually young and healthy, which is the prime time to purchase insurance—before the development of any pre-existing conditions. Including a discussion of pet insurance in these visits provides education for pet owners who are unaware of pet insurance, encourages owners who are considering it to make the investment, and celebrates with owners who have already purchased a policy.  

Client questions about pet insurance often arise during appointments for illness or injury. They may be wondering if pet insurance can still benefit the pet in front of them or if it would be helpful for other pets at home. Vet teams can let pet owners know that coverage for pre-existing conditions is generally excluded, but individual companies will have variable policies on how different conditions are handled. Ultimately, vet teams should still ensure pet families understand that pet insurance is an option, then allow them to do their own research and decide if the investment is a good choice for them. 

The recommendation to purchase pet insurance should be based on how it can benefit the individual pet family and support the human–animal bond. Consider saying something like, “We know that many pet owners worry about their pet becoming sick or injured. We recommend pet insurance because it offers a financial safety net should something like this happen to Fluffy.” 

Vet team members can also advise clients of two key differences between human and pet health insurance. First, most plans work on a reimbursement system, so clients must still have the means to pay the bill at the time of the visit. Secondly, pet insurance is an open market and there is no need to worry about in-network or out of network coverage. 

What type of policy should we recommend? 

There are many different pet insurance providers in the United States and most offer a variety of plans, which can make it nearly impossible to keep track of available options. Pet insurance policies will vary based on: 

  • Coverage (accident-only versus accident and illness) 
  • Premium  
  • Deductible 
  • Reimbursement amount 
  • Add-on wellness coverage options 

Premiums are affected by geographic location, patient age, patient breed, deductible, and reimbursement levels. Individual insurance companies or insurance marketplaces can provide details to clients on coverage options and help clients find the best company and plan for their individual circumstances.  

Important! No specific insurance company recs 

Because veterinary clinics don’t have insurance licenses, team members shouldn’t make a single recommendation, as this can be construed as selling insurance, which can create trouble for the practice. 

Veterinary teams should focus on educating clients about the advantages of pet insurance in general, not a specific company. It is okay to provide a recommendation based on personal experience with a particular company but be sure to advise pet owners there are many available options.  

For instance, a team member could say: “We have many clients and staff members who have pet insurance for their pets. Some of the companies we see most commonly include . . . You can learn more from individual companies or a pet insurance marketplace, and we’d be happy to provide some handouts today.” 

A team approach saves time 

Ultimately, the pet insurance conversation is an important part of pet owner education, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. The conversation can be started by the front desk asking if a pet owner has an insurance policy during check-in, then continued by the veterinary assistants, technicians, and veterinarians in the exam room.   

General recommendations can be followed by resources directing clients to insurance experts who can guide them to choosing the best policy for their family. This conversation is a great opportunity for team members to engage in client education to promote pet health and ease stress about the finances of veterinary care. 


Further reading 


Photo credit:  © zoff-photo  E+ via Getty Images Plus 

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 




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