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Many veterinarians in small animal practice believe that ongoing financial sustainability will be linked to increasing the uptake of pet insurance in Australia. At the same time some of you were telling us that there were some issues around pet insurance that needed to be addressed.
As a result, a pet insurance taskforce was established in 2013 to coordinate collaboration between the profession and the pet insurance underwriters to increase the value of pet insurance to insurers, veterinarians and pet owners.
The Pet Insurance Taskforce achieved the following:
- Made recommendations on guidelines for the veterinary profession to assist them with the use and promotion of pet insurance to clients. These guidelines have been promoted through AVJ, eLine and Division newsletters and made available at AVA conferences. There’s also a dedicated section on pet insurance on the AVA website where these can be downloaded.
- Made recommendations to the pet insurance underwriters on improvements required.
- Supported the development of educational resources including webinars and the information that’s available on the website.
We’d like to thank the taskforce members for their contribution – Garry Edgar (Chair), James Thompson, David Marshall, Tara Cashman, Graham Catt, Debbie Neutze and Rena Richmond. The taskforce has carried out the duties set out in its terms of reference and as a result has been drawn to a close.
A particularly pleasing achievement has been some amendments made to policies by the underwriters, some of which can be attributed to our work in advocating for these changes.
Some examples include:
Exclusions for pre-existing conditions should not be based on entire body systems and unrelated to previous conditions.
PetSure has now removed the whole body system exclusions from its policies. A review of the way PetSure assess pre-existing conditions is being reviewed.
Petplan do not base their exclusions on entire body systems
Disputed claims should be reviewed by an Australian registered veterinarian.
Both underwriters have a thorough dispute resolution process as set out by ASIC – including a review by veterinarians (not always one registered in Australia).
Policyholders can ask for a formal pre-approval
It can be difficult to pre approve claims because the treating vet may not be the only practice the pet has been treated at. Many pet owners use more than one vet practice at any one time which means that while the treating vet may believe the condition is not pre-existing, sometimes a history will reveal the condition being diagnosed elsewhere.
PetSure offers this service for a small fee but agree that disclosure around financial limits needs working on.
Petplan also offers this service but it can take up to 72 hours.
All pet insurance companies should introduce electronic claim forms.
This is something that both underwriters are currently working on.
The AVA’s work on pet insurance will continue. A revised pet insurance position statement was developed, based on our formal recommendations and our pet insurance guidelines. Pet insurance will become a regular topic on conference programs and we will start looking into other payment options, such as wellness plans, and ensure members are aware of them.
The AVA will continue to work with the pet insurance underwriters in helping to make pet insurance a more attractive, financially viable and valuable product for insurers, vets and pet owners.
Pet insurance survey results - news article on what our members said about pet insurance, May 2014
Economic sustainability for veterinary services: the role of pet insurance - news article from the CEO, October 2013
Pet insurance - information for pet owners
Veterinary fees - information for pet owners