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Should Pet Insurance be Mandatory for New Adopters?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Most of your adopters will have never heard of pet insurance which is too bad because there are lots of benefits to having pet insurance.

Luckily for them, they found you.

Your animal rescue is full of experts on animal care.

If you and your team don’t educate your community members on pet insurance, who will?

There are lots of opportunities for your animal rescue to educate your community on pet insurance.

Most adopters will be grateful to your organization for providing them with this valuable information. Believe it or not, people love insurance.

It gives us a sense of security that’s irreplaceable.

A lot of people would never have $10,000 to pay vet bills if their pet were to be injured in an accident but more often then not, people can handle an additional $30 a month bill to pay for pet insurance.

Pet insurance can be very useful in instances like this.

Here are some of the benefits of having pet insurance.

There are a lot of benefits for adopters who chose to purchase pet insurance. We’re going to quickly go through a few.

Pet insurance offers adopter's a peace of mind.

Pet insurance policies can provide adopters with a peace of mind.

Some pet insurance policies will cover veterinary expenses in the event that the policy holder’s pet is injured or falls ill.

The monthly premiums are also more than fair considering how expensive veterinary bills have the potential to be.

Even if an insurance policy does not cover the entire cost of veterinary care, adopters are still happy to recover even just a small portion of their veterinary bills.

Pet insurance can offer adopters access to funds they would not otherwise have had.

If a pet is injured or falls ill early into a policy, then the policy may end up reimbursing the adopter more money then the adopter may have even paid into the policy.

For example, if an adopter pays $40 a month for pet insurance and has only had the policy for 4 months then the adopter would have paid a total of $160 for the policy.

If the adopter's pet were to fall ill at some point during the 4th month then there would, of course, be veterinary fees associated with that.

Let's say the veterinary bill ended up being $600 and the insurance policy decided to cover 70% of that bill then the insurance policy would have paid out $420 even though the adopter only paid $160 for the policy thus far.

Should Pet Insurance Be Mandatory for New Pet Adopters?

A lot of animal rescues make the mistake of thinking pet insurance should be mandatory just because it can be beneficial in some instances. But this reasoning is often flawed.

The reasoning here tends to go something like this:

If prospective adopters are good adopters, then they’ll see the value in caring for their pet’s health.

If prospective adopters can see the value in caring for their pet’s health, then they’ll incur veterinary fees.

If prospective adopters are going to incur veterinary fees then they should have insurance.

In conclusion, if adopters are serious about caring for their pet’s health then they’ll have insurance.

But that’s not always the case. There are lots of reasons why new adopters might choose to decline pet insurance.

Here are some reasons why adopters may prefer to decline pet insurance.

Some adopters will be reluctant to sign up for pet insurance because they don't see pet insurance as a valuable service.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t intend to provide veterinary care for their pets.

It simply means they don’t see it as valuable as you do and that’s fair too.

After all, there can be a downside to pet insurance. Some adopters may even deem it unnecessary.

Pet insurance often only offers partial coverage.

In most instances, insurance policies only provide prospective adopters with partial coverage.

It is also very uncommon for insurance policies to cover regular veterinary expenses like annual veterinary exams, vaccinations or dental care.

It's also very uncommon for an insurance policy to cover any portion of a medical bill pertaining to a health issue that was pre-existing to the policy's start date.

Some adopters may find this coverage to be too limiting so instead choose to finance their pet’s veterinary care entirely on their own.

If an adopter can afford to finance their animal’s veterinary care then why do you care how they do it?

Adopters can end up spending more money on insurance than they ever would have on veterinary fees.

There are instances where pet owners end up paying more for a pet insurance policy over the course of their animal's life than they ever would have spent on veterinary care.

It will be very difficult to convince an adopter who has had that type of past experience to ever purchase pet insurance again.

There are lots of other ways to finance veterinary care.

There are tons of options adopters can use to fund the cost of veterinary care.

Some adopters are comfortable funding their veterinary care using their personal savings.

We've seen instances where adopters have found what their monthly pet insurance rate would be and then proactively chosen to transfer that amount to a separate account each month.

It’s also not uncommon to hear of people taking out personal lines of credit to fund their animal's veterinary care.

There are even companies who specialize in providing veterinary loans to adopters in need of financing options to help them pay unexpected veterinary bills.

Some prospective adopters may even be lucky enough to have pet insurance offered to them through their place of employment.

Your animal rescue has no control over post-adoption scenarios

Let’s say your animal rescue is able to convince an adopter to sign up for a pet insurance policy.

The adopter can literally call the insurance company the very next day to cancel the policy.

How will you know if they do? The answer is you won’t.

Making pet insurance mandatory for adopters doesn’t give you any real assurance that the adopters will keep the policy moving forward.

Mandatory pet insurance can create an unnecessary barrier to adoption.

You might be thinking that even if some adopters cancel their policies, not all will, so what do you have to lose by requiring them to sign up?

The short answer is potential adopters.

Making pet insurance mandatory to adopt a pet can create an unnecessary barrier to adoption.

If a pet owner feels strongly about not taking on the additional monthly expense then they may choose to adopt an animal from a different animal rescue and that’s the best-case scenario.

In the worst-case scenario, the prospective adopter could simply end up going to a breeder. You don’t want that right?

How would you feel if 50 people chose not to adopt from your animal rescue and instead purchased a dog from a local breeder?

Probably not great.

This unnecessary barrier to adoption can result in your animal rescue being too full to pull an additional 50 animals from the local animal shelter.

If your local shelter is a kill shelter then these 50 animals are at risk of being euthanized in a shelter.

Those are serious implications in exchange for nothing other than a false peace of mind.

Concluding Thoughts

Never forget how important it is for adoption policies to not create unnecessary barriers to adoption.

It’s your animal rescue’s duty to keep animals safe – yes. But it’s also your duty to find loving homes for as many animals as you can.

Some animals already have unavoidable barriers to adoption so always do your best to not add any additional barriers.

Even in instances where pet insurance is not mandatory you can still educate prospective adopters on the benefits of pet insurance and give them pointers on how to shop for it.

Also, don’t forget to stay in the loop with recent adopters. You can always follow up with them to see how their adoption experience is going.

Maintaining communication with new adopters is a great way to understand what new challenges they may be facing.

This can help you tweak your animal rescue’s post-adoption support program.

Our life-saving e-course “Power of Adoption” can teach you how to design an adoption policy that is both safe and free of any unnecessary barriers to adoption.

You can also subscribe to Rescue Corner for more helpful tips to help your animal shelter or animal rescue.

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