What every vet should know about pet insurance (part one)
MediPet, South Africa’s leading pet insurance broker, is uniquely made up of a team of vets and nurses. We understand the pressure vets in practice are under during a consult, and the list of things that need discussing with every client is ridiculously long. So, we’ll do our best to make the next 5 minutes reading this worth it.
What we have to share on getting your patients insured will directly assist you as a practising veterinary professional or vet practice. This will empower your team to get more of your patients covered and feel more confident when making recommendations in the confusing world of pet insurance.
So, what 2 things do YOU need to know?
Pet insurance is a short-term agreement that a pet owner makes with an underwriter based on a set of calculated risks, just like car or house insurance.
This means it is month-to-month cover and can change at any time. Claiming patterns will affect the setting of premiums as well as terms and conditions like excesses charged for claims.
In English, all this means that insurance is designed for the big things. Examples like TPLO surgeries, IVDD cases and major medical illnesses that need costly workups. Not day-to-day care, not for pre-existing conditions, and not for repetitive or small claims for the same condition. So, you see, not like a medical aid.
The difference between insurance and medical aid is the biggest source of confusion so, we need to help manage expectations. The similarity between the two is paying a monthly premium for cover of specific medical procedures and treatments, with the aim of easing the financial burden of medical bills. Of course, pet insurance is worth it and can be invaluable. It is designed to provide major financial help after sudden, unforeseen accidents or illnesses.
Pet insurance is also not bound by the same laws and regulations as medical aid. Pet owners can visit any registered vet. There is no set of Prescribed Minimum Benefits and there is no limiting “tariff pricing”. Vets should not need to be doing pre-authorisations or signing claim forms.
Like with all insurance, there are excesses due for payment by the client on most claims. This could be a minimum payment or a % of the claim. The amount or type depends on the required procedure, condition, timing of the claim, and/or treatment.
Some pet insurance brokers will either issue a refund directly to the client after they have paid you, their vet, or in some cases, may be willing to agree that the bill be settled directly with the veterinary practice if the practice allows for this.
There is no special deal where you get to pay a small monthly premium for better cover. We all know the world doesn’t work this way. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so they say. Luckily there are lots of options which can suit different budgets, pets and living conditions. Pet insurance plans are available in different shapes and sizes. The cover will depend on the plan you choose. The higher the premium, the more the cover.
Basic pet insurance plans should cover in-hospital care and post-surgery care generally related to accidents at least.
Illness plans cover more, but some limit amounts of claims or claim amount limits and/or even sub-limits. They also don’t offer extras like complimentary covers such as rehabilitation and supplements.
Comprehensive plans cover accidents, illnesses and emergencies. In addition to benefits such as prescription food, behavioural therapy, dental care, and holistic wellness (this could include physiotherapy, homoeopathy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, etc).
Pet insurance plans don’t usually cover pregnancy, routine care, grooming, elective procedures and unprescribed special foods as part of the general cover.
While providers can seem comparable, they differ because pet insurance companies are allowed to create their own benefits. For example, MediPet uniquely offers a Chronic Care Support add-on benefit that covers ongoing treatment for sickly pets. This is something that isn’t standard with pet insurance plans.
Depending on whether their provider covers common-breed conditions, pet owners may need additional cover for conditions that their pets may be prone to such as spinal issues, lameness, cherry eye and more. MediPet is unique in that they do cover these, and do not add waiting periods for these, nor require any special extra cover.
MediPet has also newly created the Benefit Booster which can cover pre-existing or excluded conditions, or even add or increase new benefits to a plan from the start of cover. This is awesome news for you, as you can now tailor-make an add-on plan to meet your patients’ specific needs.
So why do your patients need insurance? Having insurance means they can receive the best medical treatment you can offer and their owners can pay your bills.
More transparent, genuine and honest partnerships are what we need in the Veterinary industry right now, which is why LocumBaseVETS has partnered with MediPet. The pet insurance broker, in it, for the right reasons.