Everything you always wanted to know about pet insurance (but were afraid to ask)

Use this advice to learn the best strategies to talk to pet owners about how to pay for the care their pets need. Then take your floundering pet insurance program and boost it to a new level of service to protect the pets you serve.

Money. It can be such an ugly word, especially when it's the single thing standing between your practice and the pet that so desperately needs your care. You've seen it many times—the pet that could have been saved, if only there were a little more money. It's enough to break your heart.

You can't save every pet, but you can help by preparing pet owners for their pets' care. First, start with the quick quiz at left. Then consider this advice to learn about how to make payment options work for your practice:

1. Kick your passive marketing habit


Quick quiz:
Many practices passively market pet insurance by placing insurance brochures in the reception area and in new puppy and kitten packets. But is it any surprise that pet owners aren't signing up in droves if this is the extent of the team's involvement? Team members must believe in pet insurance—they must have seen it help—to convince pet owners that it's worthwhile.

So take a moment and ask yourself this: What do you think about insurance? Do you know enough about it to make an informed decision or to recommend it to clients? Be honest. A good way to decide whether pet insurance is something you believe in is to investigate it more thoroughly. Consider what you'd want in a pet insurance policy. Think about the financial concerns pet owners most often express. Then examine the policies and see if any fit these criteria.

If you and the rest of your team decide pet insurance is a good option for pet owners, our sources say it's important to select just a few that you recommend—for several reasons. First, imagine you're the client. When you open that puppy or kitten kit and that batch of pet insurance brochures falls out, how do you feel? Overwhelmed? Irritated? Would you wish someone with more animal health experience would help you make sense of your options?

Jessica Goodman Lee, CVPM, a practice development consultant with Brakke Consulting, says pet owners with pet insurance will generally spend twice as much with a practice over the course of a pet's life. A common mistake, Lee says, is to provide brochures for all of the companies. Not only is it confusing for clients, but you're failing to guide them in making an important healthcare choice for their pets. Instead, she advises choosing a couple of pet insurance companies your whole team believes in to recommend to clients.