By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Recently Pets Best conducted another set of focus groups of pet owners in order to find out if we are addressing what pet owners really want and to see if they understand the value concept of pet insurance.
Overall we verified previous observations from years of prior experience and learned more about perceptions of Pets Best. One thing of note—which was prevalent in all the focus groups—is that there are definitely still myths floating around about pet insurance. The following are the highlights along with my responses to those lingering myths:
1. Pet Insurance is only for sick pets
Actually, you must purchase insurance before your pet is sick for it to be effective, the same as you would buy auto or homeowners insurance before you have an accident or catastrophe.
2. Insurance is a hassle
Pets Best plans are simple, you simply pay your veterinary bills and submit the bills to us and we reimburse you directly, usually in less than a week.
Unlike some plans which are complicated and use schedules which may be substantially less than your actual veterinary expenses, with our 80% payment, after the deductible, it is easy to figure out how much we will reimburse you for claims.
Since pet owners are typically out-of-pocket for their pets’ medical expenses, unlike human health care where hospitals and doctors bill the insurance company, the turnaround time for payment is important when choosing a pet insurance company.
3. We could not choose our own vet
Fortunately with most pet insurance plans there are no managed care principals, pet HMOs or veterinary PPOs to contend with. At Pets Best—and most other pet insurance providers—you can always select the veterinarian of your choice. Pet insurance is not typically involved in the decision process for treatments, care or cost. As with most things, there are exceptions, though, and at least one company is currently working to set up a network of veterinarians.
4. Pet Insurance must be expensive
Although premiums vary by company, plan type, the age of the pet, and species (cat or dog), in most instances pet insurance is more affordable than you might imagine with the monthly cost being about what you would pay for a dinner for two. Pet owners can also choose even less costly plans with lower limits and a higher deductible or higher cost plans with lower deductibles and higher limits. Prices will vary from company to company, but most are reasonable.
5. Pet Insurance has too many exclusions or does not cover what I need
When it comes to accidents or illnesses, pet insurance actually has very few exclusions. Pet insurance is designed to transfer the risk of your pet’s future unknown health cost to the insurer. When it comes to your pet’s health and the many thousands of accidents and illnesses that can happen to pets, other than hereditary, congenital and pre-existing, all accidents and most illnesses are covered.
With Pets Best many of the typical exclusions are limitations, where the payment, although smaller does provide some coverage and value. Ask your veterinarian or their staff how many times a pet’s illness can present financial hardship and hard decisions for pet owners. Pet insurance is like your own health insurance, it is designed to help pay for your pet’s medical needs, whether it is a simple skin rash, a virus, an ear infection or severe cancer.
Although your actions in insuring your pet speak to your understanding the myths and knowing the value pet insurance can provide to your peace of mind, our recent focus group shows that most pet owners still do not completely understand pet insurance. I will not rest until every pet owner is at least aware there is pet insurance coverage that can be budgeted at a reasonable cost so they never have to be concerned with their pet family member’s health cost.