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Revised AVMA policy urges pet insurance education

Veterinary teams are now encouraged to make clients aware of insurance as a financial option.

Revised AVMA policy urges pet insurance education

The American Veterinary Medical Association is encouraging practitioners and their teams to proactively educate clients about the existence of pet health insurance as a way to help defray the cost of medical care.

The House of Delegates approved a policy change Aug. 2 that elevates pet health insurance from merely being endorsed by the AVMA to being recognized as a financial resource deserving of client education. The resolution passed with 76% of the vote and no discussion for or against.

The finance reference committee recommended the resolution’s approval during a meeting a day earlier. A couple of committee members questioned whether the word “proactively” in the phrase “proactively educate” went a step too far.

Wendy Hauser, DVM, representing the American Animal Hospital Association in the House of Delegates, told the committee that “proactive is an important word to have in there.”

“Proactive can be having a question on your new-client form: ‘What pet insurance do you have?’” she said. “That’s proactive. It opens the door to a conversation.”

Surveys conducted by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association and Mississippi State University found that clients “wanted veterinarians to talk to them about pet insurance,” she said.

Dr. Hauser, assistant vice president of veterinary relations for the Crum and Forster Pet Insurance Group, pointed out that veterinarians are not in the business of selling pet insurance. In fact, regulations limit a health care team’s involvement.

“This is a heavily regulated product,” she said. “You guys cannot talk — because you’re not licensed — about policies. You cannot make recommendations about what type of coverage [clients] should be getting.

“Really, it’s just endorsing the idea that pet insurance is a useful tool.”

In other action, the House of Delegates:

  • Approved minor changes to the Model Veterinary Practice Act, a set of guiding principles for each state.
  • Approved minor revisions to policies on the judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials.
  • Asked the Council on Veterinary Services to review a resolution that would declare sexual harassment a “serious issue” in the veterinary profession.

Ken Niedziela is editor of Today’s Veterinary Business. Email him at kniedziela@NAVC.com.

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