What Vet Techs Should Know About Pet Insurance

Posted by Des Sinkevich on March 18, 2021

A thriving veterinary practice owner or manager knows that success comes from a combination of good medicine and good business. A strong veterinary healthcare team, from veterinary assistants and credentialed veterinary technicians to veterinarians, can grow your practice – providing quality care while increasing your bottom line. Part of creating an effective team is utilizing veterinary technicians and other staff to their full potential, which includes ensuring they have the tools and knowledge to educate clients. With pet insurance becoming more prevalent, your veterinary technicians should be familiar with what it is, how it works, and how to talk about it with clients.

Vet tech examining patient.

How pet insurance impacts clients and clinics

Like human health insurance, pet insurance often covers a percentage of the cost of veterinary services. Pet owners pay a monthly premium to maintain their coverage and, depending on the plan they choose, can expect to pay less over time for appointments, though for some the biggest draw is the safety net for emergency expenses and surgeries. Whatever the motivation for purchasing insurance, veterinary clinics – and pets – can benefit from the coverage in the long-term. These benefits include

  • An increase in wellness visits. The cost of veterinary care can often be seen as prohibitive to many pet owners, leading to fewer wellness appointments and a reluctance to take their animal to a clinic in non-emergency situations. With pet insurance, wellness visits and appointments overall increase, with one study showing a 40% growth in scheduled appointments.
  • Higher stop-treatment thresholds. While owners want to provide the best care for their ill or injured pet, often after a certain financial point, they’re unable to continue treatment. Pet insurance coverage increases that threshold by 41% for those surveyed.*
  • Increased client satisfaction. Clients want their pets to be healthy and pet insurance increases the likelihood they’ll take wellness visits seriously. With increased wellness visits, they can stay on top of their pet’s health while building a strong bond with their regular practice.
  • Increased revenue for the veterinary practice. While the priority of any practice is to care for its clients, the business needs to be successful in order to do so. Along with quality care, pet insurance can increase clinic revenue over time. A study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Mississippi State University found that insured pet owners provide an average of $211 more per year on healthcare, which can translate to $633,000 in revenue for a clinic that sees 3,000 patients a year.

Why veterinary technicians need to know about pet insurance

The benefits of pet insurance to the client and clinic are clear but discussing insurance options can be a difficult conversation. This is especially true for busy clinics – the veterinarian may not have time to consult with a client about pet insurance, but veterinary assistants and veterinary technicians may not know enough about it to confidently advise pet owners. Additionally, queries about different pet insurance policies often come up at inopportune times, making the discussion even more difficult for distracted technicians. Arming your staff with knowledge about the subject, as well as providing resources for clients, can make all the difference. To prepare your vet technicians for these conversations, you should
  • Have an understanding of the various types of pet insurance yourself
  • Provide adequate resources on the subject for clients and staff
  • Advise technicians to be proactive in the discussion
Further, it’s important to note that information on insurance plans and companies should be unbiased and clear, offering points to considered without necessarily advocating for one plan over another. Each pet and pet owner have unique circumstances and needs; one plan may not fit all clients. Broaching the subject, however, is important – and can build bonds of trust between clients and veterinary technicians. In fact, it has a clear impact on how likely pet owners are to take a technician’s medical advice. A survey of veterinary team members found that after clearly discussing pet insurance, clients were 30% more likely to take their advice and recommendations while the number of people who always declined recommendations decreased from 40% to 6%.

The bottom line – pet insurance will become vital to success

The cost of regular pet healthcare has long been a detriment to many pet owners, impacting their pet’s health and the number of clients a clinic may see. In order to ensure the wellness of pets and increase practice revenue, insurance knowledge will be vital. With veterinary technicians being trained and empowered to educate clients, it only makes sense to ensure your technicians can confidently cover the basics of pet insurance.