Is pet insurance worth it? As a pet professional, you no doubt get asked this question quite often. But how do you respond?
Indeed, a growing number of pet owners choose to take out animal insurance. However, there are still many pet owners who don’t have an insurance policy — for various reasons.
As industry professionals, it’s important to keep informed about pet health insurance and to provide unbiased information to clients, should they ask.
Certainly, for veterinarians, it is devastating when a pet owner is unable to afford veterinary treatment. This places the owner in a very difficult and sad situation, as it means they are unable to give their pet the care it needs and deserves.
Indeed, as advancements are made in veterinary procedures and more complex treatments become available, the potential costs to keep a pet well rise. What’s more, many owners are now taking preventative measures to assist their pets to live healthier and longer lives.
Having insurance can assist pet owners in managing their financial risk. It also provides peace of mind that should their pet become ill or injured, they can cover the cost of treatment.
Why the rise in popularity?
There will always be pet owners who don’t recognise the value of insurance or who believe it to be too expensive. However, over the last few years in Australia, there has been a rise in the popularity of pet health insurance. Here are some of the reasons for the uptake in insurance policies:
More people now regard their pets as members of the family.
The humanization of pets means that people are treating and caring for their pets in the same way they do their children.
There is greater availability of new technologies and advanced procedures that were traditionally reserved for humans. Yet these treatments come at a price.
Just like preventative health for humans, more pet owners see the benefit of using preventative treatments for their pets.
Useful facts about pet health insurance
Many owners who don’t have pet insurance say it’s simply because they’ve never looked into it. Having a few key facts at hand might help encourage pet owners to take the time to consider whether or not they could benefit from taking out a policy.
After all, discussing insurance isn’t the same as promoting it. It’s really about educating pet owners on the pros and cons and guiding them on how to find the best policy (that’s if they decide they do want insurance for their pet).
Here are some useful pieces of information you can share:
There are many policies available that can be tailored to meet individual needs.
Pet owners don’t necessarily have to be tied into a lifetime policy. Some companies offer 12-month policies.
The average yearly pet health insurance premium is $525 for dog owners and $358 for cat owners.
On average dog owners spend $546 on a trip to the vet, while the average vet spend for cat owners is $371.
Dog and cat owners who visit the vet are going multiple times a year – averaging 2.1 visits per dog and 1.7 per cat.
According to Choice.com.au more than half of cat and dog owners are prepared to pay up to $2,500 for treatment if their pet is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
Most pet owners (66%) need to either take out a loan or use their credit card to pay for their pet’s veterinary treatment, due to not having pet health insurance.
Talking to clients about pet health insurance
According to the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), vets can educate their clients about animal insurance without breaching any laws—providing they follow certain rules.
The AVA states, ‘Under the Corporations Act, a veterinarian may be viewed as providing ‘financial products advice’ in relation to pet insurance if they make a recommendation, or give a statement of opinion, that influences a person’s decision in relation to a particular insurance policy or could be considered to have influenced that decision.’
Therefore, when discussing insurance it’s important to share factual information and keep the topic general. For example, it’s okay to talk about the different types of policies available and the differences between them.
However, it’s not okay to recommend that a particular policy is most suited to a client. It’s about providing the information and allowing the owner to make an educated decision.
Given the rising interest in insurance policies for pets, it’s important for pet professionals to be armed with the most up-to-date knowledge on the topic. It also pays to know your obligations when providing information to clients.
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