« Pet Insurance For 5 Pets - How's It Going? - Episode 49 | Main

06/07/2019

Comments

Jazherah MacMornna

Very few vets have the Trupanion Express software. This a tremendous problem for people of modest financial means. What can be done to change this?

Doug Kenney

Jazherah,

1) You can contact Trupanion and ask that their Territory Partner for your area call on your veterinarian to make a case for why they should consider Trupanion Express for their practice. That said, I know veterinarians who don't completely trust third party vendors with access to their client database despite the contract specifying limited ways the vendor can use this information.

2) You can ask your veterinarian yourself if he or she is familiar with Trupanion Express. If not, you can share the link to this blog post and/or the link to the Trupanion Express page on Trupanion's website.

3) Share with your veterinarian your concerns about being able to pay up front a large bill even if your pet is insured and see what options they offer for those situations. Your veterinarian may be willing to accept direct payment even without having Trupanion Express. Other pet insurance companies will also do this.

The one advantage to Trupanion Express, however, is the ability to let the veterinarian know within minutes if an illness is covered and how much will be reimbursed along with virtually real time direct deposit to the hospital's bank account when the patient is ready for discharge from the hospital.

Unless you've had a medical record review to determine pre-existing conditions AND your insurer has a claims processor available 24/7, they cannot give your veterinarian the assurances needed to work with you on a large bill and accept direct payment from the insurance company. IMHO this is the biggest need and shortfall of the pet insurance industry. Even if a pet is insured, unless the pet owner has access to a large savings reserve and/or a significant line of credit, pet insurance won't help them for catastrophic accidents/illnesses, which is ironic because that's the primary reason to purchase pet insurance.

That said, many pet owners with the means to pay large bills that have insured pets will tell you that if their pet hadn't been insured, they likely wouldn't have made the decision to use a significant amount of their nest egg or go into significant debt to pay a large vet bill. Again, the elephant in the room is knowing when you make the decision to go forward with treatment whether or not it will be covered by the insurance.

3) Start now developing your own strategy for paying your pet's healthcare expenses. Don't wait until a crisis occurs. Obtain a credit card you'll use only for pet healthcare. Ask your vet what options they offer. Open a dedicated checking/debit account and deposit a set amount into it each paycheck. Calculate your likely annual wellness care expenses and add your annual deductible if you have insurance. You could even add your annual premium along with a little extra. Break this down into amounts needed to be deposited in the account each payday. If your pet remains healthy, funds will grow in the account and you'll be in a better position when something major occurs.

If your pet isn't insured, buy a policy that will at least cover a catastrophic illness that has a lower premium. But, be sure you cover what you cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. If you can't afford to pay a larger deductible yet, start with a lower deductible and as funds grow in the account or your premium increases, you'll be able to raise the deductible and lower your premium.

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