Veterinarians Key to Higher Use of Pet Health Insurance
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), in conjunction with Lieberman Research Worldwide and John Volk, senior consultant, Brakke Consulting, recently completed a major two-part market research study. After first querying pet owners about pet health insurance, NAPHIA then surveyed veterinary practitioners on the insights gained from the pet owner research.
There is tremendous medical and financial value to increased use of pet health insurance. According to the studies, dog owners with pet health insurance spend 29 per cent more annually for veterinary care; cat owners 81 per cent more.
Two research studies were conducted. One, in October 2015, was among a sample of 626 U.S. and Canadian adults who had primary or shared responsibility for pet care. The second, in January 2016, was among 505 U.S. and Canadian companion animal veterinarians in private practice.
The majority of veterinarians surveyed – 56 per cent – wished all of their clients had pet health insurance. Most perceived that pet health insurance was highly effective at increasing compliance on veterinary recommendations, increasing purchases of veterinary medical services, and increased pet health expenditures among pet owners.
In addition, the survey among pet owners demonstrated that 50 per cent more pet owners would likely purchase pet health insurance if their veterinarians actively recommended it. This was especially true of pet owners who had no prior knowledge of pet health insurance. However, most veterinarians are at best passive in recommending pet insurance, often doing little more than displaying brochures from pet health insurance companies in their waiting areas.
Interestingly, most pet owners who buy pet health insurance aren’t doing it for economic reasons, according to the research. Rather, they are buying it for peace of mind, and a sense of security that they are doing the best for their pet. Among those pet owners who had pet health insurance, the most common reasons were: Is helpful to pet owners (59%); shows you love your pet (55%); shows you are a responsible owner (53%); provides peace of mind (49%); is a good investment (48%); and helps avoid the need to make painful choices about care (42%).
So pet owners aren’t looking to veterinarians for detailed information about coverage or costs. Rather, they want reassurance from their veterinarian that insurance is a valuable component of responsible pet ownership.
In the survey, pet owners said they were more likely to purchase pet health insurance if the veterinary practice – veterinarian and/or staff – actively recommended pet health insurance, whether the pet owner asks about it or not. This is especially true if the owner has a new pet or is a first time pet owner.
Other actions that would make pet owners much more likely to purchase pet health insurance were: submitting claims on behalf of the client (85%); informing clients of free trial coverage if available (81%); actively endorsing pet health insurance by insuring practice employees’ own pets (71%); and providing a link on the practice website to the recommended pet insurance company (69%).
Contrary to an opinion sometimes voiced in veterinary circles, the vast majority of veterinarians do not fear that increased use of pet health insurance would lead to managed care. Ninety-five per cent of veterinarians surveyed did not agree with the statement, “Pet health insurance companies will have too much influence in the veterinary profession if it becomes commonplace.”
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) is comprised of pet health insurance (PHI) organizations from across Canada and the United States. NAPHIA’s membership makes up over 99 per cent of all pet health insurance coverage in effect in North America.
More information about NAPHIA and the pet owner and veterinarian surveys can be obtained by contacting Kristen Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-962-7442. You can also visit www.naphia.org.