Fight your fear of pet insurance paperwork

Overwhelmed by the thought of recommending pet insurance because of the administrative work involved? Don't fret. These tips can simplify the process and make pet insurance pay for your veterinary practice.
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Nov 01, 2010

There are a lot of pros to pet insurance: It helps remove the financial constraints that factor into many pet owners' stop-treatment thresholds. It can improve wellness-care compliance and add revenue to a practice's bottom line. But there's a con that might keep some practices from recommending this product to their clients: the image of mountains of administrative work for team members. Who wants to deal with that?

But the truth about pet insurance is this: It doesn't take tons of extra effort to make it pay for your practice and patients. Here's how to make it easier on everyone involved.

Put paperwork dread to rest

"Many practices are fearful of pet health insurance, and understandably so. Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork, right?" says Jennifer Volmer, a veterinary technician at Eads Animal Hospital in Eads, Tenn. "Actually, it's the opposite." In fact, when it comes to pet insurance, your practice is a third party that can be minimally involved in the process beyond documentation of services rendered. Only if you take the extra customer care step of filing clients' claims does pet insurance really involve increased work—and even then, it's not much.

Volmer and her teammates offer to fax claim forms and invoices for clients, "and that only takes about two minutes," she says. Courtney Grissell, a receptionist at Spring Creek Animal Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, spends no more than 15 to 20 minutes a week filing claims. On the forms, she checks the preventive care box or the medical/accident box, attaches a copy of the patient's invoice, and faxes both pages or mails the claim.

Even at a practice with higher numbers of insured patients, the workload is manageable, says Christine Akers, pet insurance coordinator at Bowman Animal Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., which has roughly 300 insured clients. "I have one day a week that I set aside specifically for filing claims," Akers says. "A smaller clinic may only need a couple hours a week."

Pick an insurance expert

Not every practice that recommends pet insurance has designated an insurance coordinator, but appointing one team member (that's right, not a doctor) to this role can benefit everyone involved. Volmer is that person at her practice. She answers insurance questions for clients, acts as a liaison between the insurer and pet owners, and keeps the staff informed and motivated to encourage clients to make the choice to have their pets covered by insurance.