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Taking a leadership role in pet insurance at your practice does more than simply build your program. It helps create a coordinated effort that leads to educated team members who can teach more pet owners about the value of pet insurance-and ultimately offer their pets the care they need.
Most successful programs at any practice begin with a leader who's knowledgeable about the topic, passionate about how the service or product promotes pet health, and determined to educate pet owners about how to offer their pets the highest level of care. The critical question: Are you a leader at your practice ready to assume the mantle of pet insurance coordinator?
Before you say yes, take a look at this list of responsibilities. Then consider whether you can be the leader your practice needs to help pet owners afford their pets' care.
1. Be passionate about pet insurance. Dr. Amanda Donnelly, owner of ALD Veterinary Consulting, says she recommends choosing an insurance specialist who is not the practice manager, because the practice manager often already has a full plate. Receptionists are often a natural choice because they spend a lot of their time talking to pet owners about their payment options.
“This is an opportunity to give responsibility to a team member,” Dr. Donnelly says. “And it needs to be a team member who really believes in pet insurance and who is interested in this role.”
This is a great example of employee development, Dr. Donnelly says. So look for a team member who's thrilled to be your pet insurance champion and who has a desire to be a cheerleader, coordinator, and trainer for pet insurance at your practice.
2. Get smart. A pet insurance coordinator must know more about pet insurance than anyone else in the practice. Dr. Andy Roark, a veterinarian who practices in Greenville, S.C., and who is the founder and managing director of the veterinary consulting firm Tall Oaks Enterprises, says a coordinator will also probably be responsible for educating the rest of the team about pet insurance. This may include arranging short educational programs at staff meetings to introduce the topic to team members and keeping them updated about the pet insurance companies you recommend and the reasons you recommend them. It may also include organizing lunch-and-learn programs, where you can invite pet insurance company representatives to your practice to talk to your team. And you can keep your team motivated, Dr. Donnelly says, by sharing insurance success stories at team meetings.
3. Focus on client service and patient care. To take client care to the next level, Christine Akers, a receptionist and pet insurance coordinator at Bowman Animal Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., says her practice submits pet insurance claims for pet owners. “I feel that this service, in conjunction with our ongoing client education about pet insurance, is an advantage for our clients and our practice,” Akers says. “Owners with pet insurance policies bring their pets in more, and they often opt to treat every condition.”
4. Be a resource. Pet owners often have many questions about pet insurance. As pet insurance coordinator, you must possess the knowledge to answer common questions, such as “Is pet insurance worth it?” and know how to refer pet owners to the appropriate customer service representatives with pet insurance companies when they ask more detailed questions about specific coverage for their pet. Akers says as the insurance coordinator at her practice, she can help pet owners understand their policies and make processing the claims easier.
To be an effective pet insurance coordinator, it's important to remember why you care about pet insurance: because it can help pet owners afford the care pets need. “I personally measure our success rate not by the number of policies our clients have,” Akers says. “I measure success by the number of companion animals whose lives are healthier and happier because their owners are able to provide high-quality veterinary care that may not have been possible without a pet insurance policy to ease the financial burden.”