Busted: 3 pernicious insurance myths

Busted: 3 pernicious insurance myths

You can pay less money for better service from you insurance carrier and agent. I do ...
Mar 01, 2012

I love to watch TV, but I'm starting to get tired of the distractions. I try to get involved in the dramatic Navy crime stories on NCIS or absorbed by the cool 1880s antique desk with the hidden gun on an episode of Pawn Stars, but I can't focus. Every five minutes I'm accosted by some caveman or lizard telling me that I pay too much for insurance.

At the next intermission, there's a giant insurance company renaming itself after a policy holder or changing its jingle to personalize it for one specific customer. I can't think about dead Navy commanders or weaponized furniture because now I'm worried about whether the red umbrella covers me too.

So I figured that if a former insurance lawyer such as myself is confused about insurance, a lot of veterinarians must be a little edgy about what kind of policies they have and whether they need to make changes.

Here, I'll debunk the common myths and misunderstandings that policy holders have about insurance and its handmaidens—the broker, the carrier and the adjuster.

Myth No. 1

All insurance agents are insurance professionals

There are many qualified, experienced and knowledgeable insurance brokers and agents who pride themselves on helping customers wade through the complexities of various types of insurance. However, there are more than a few insurance "professionals" who do not avail themselves of opportunities to learn about changes in insurance law and new developments in an ever-evolving universe of insurance products.

Moreover, there is a difference between an insurance professional—whose main obligation is locating the best policy and coverage for each specific client's personal and business needs—and an "insurance guy." The insurance guy sells a policy and never bothers to check whether the client's home and contents have changed, whether new business equipment has been purchased or whether areas of business risk have expanded.

Would you be a "veterinary professional" if you sent your hyperthyroid cats home with a dose figure and a case of Tapazole, never intending to look at another blood value?

Myth No. 2

The more you pay, the better your claims experience will be

Ridiculous. In your town, can you be assured of getting the best veterinary care for your pet by calling around to find the highest possible price for an office visit? Some insurance companies have elected to include as part of their business model a commitment to excellent claim handling. They're more careful about screening the adjusters they use. They make more claim representatives available at more convenient times. They train their people. When these things are done, customers get better service. It's not magic—it's the same business paradigm veterinary practices use to build a client base.

Further, companies with lousy customer support—long waits on the phone, offshore client service centers, annoying telephone-menu nonsense—aren't necessarily the least expensive. Their customers stay with them because they don't know any better and because they've gone years without having to make any claims. Consequently, they haven't suffered enough to look elsewhere for coverage yet.