The GeniusVets Show with Ryan Champagne

The GeniusVets Show with Ryan Champagne

Hello everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the GeniusVets Show, for veterinary practice owners and industry pros. I'm your host, David Hall, co-founder of GeniusVets, and today we're tackling a really, really important issue. I know that everybody in the industry, and a lot of people across the country have heard of some of these stories, some pretty famous ones recently, where pet owners get into a challenging situation with their pet, where it results in an incredibly expensive veterinary bill and they simply can't afford it. We know that this not only weighs on the pet owner themselves and puts them at a choice where they have to choose to be able to keep their pet, to be able to potentially put their pet down or relinquish their pet. It really puts an unnecessarily difficult burden on your staff of having to deal with these situations where the medical care is there, it's available, it could save the pet, and it just comes down to a matter of money.

This is where pet insurance steps in and what it's for. This is the issue of pet insurance, it's necessary, it's responsible pet ownership, it can help in these situations. As veterinary professionals, you and your team are often left facing many challenges when it comes to these types of recommendations. There's a myriad of companies out there, they all cover different things. You may not want to make a specific recommendation for fear of liability of how someone might be able to come back and say, "You recommended this, but they're not covering that and I'm blaming you." So there's a lot of reasons where that puts you as veterinary professionals in an uncomfortable place, but it doesn't have to.

There is a solution out there that we have found that I think is really the key here in space and that we're really getting behind. I want to introduce you today to Pawlicy Advisor. Pawlicy Advisor is a pet insurance marketplace endorsed by veterinarians and the American Animal Hospital Association, and it makes buying pet insurance easier for pet owners by comparing personalized coverage and pricing differences to help pet owners find the best plan for them and their pet.

Today we have joining us here on the GeniusVets Show, Ryan Champagne. Ryan is a licensed P&C insurance broker, who's been in animal health for the past six years. Prior to getting into animal health, Ryan was a successful and respected commercial insurance broker for Marsh & McLennan Agency. During his tenure with MMA, he worked with several Fortune 500 companies to provide complex business insurance solutions. He really understands the insurance marketplace and has put in the time to really understand the veterinary industry. So I'm very glad to have him joining us today. Ryan, thanks so much for taking some time out of your busy day to join us on the GeniusVets Show.

Thanks for having me, David. I really appreciate it.

Like I said there in the intro, there's just a lot of challenges. I think any veterinarian that I've talked to over the years, they all understand that pet insurance is part of responsible pet ownership. It's a good thing for them to have because for pet owners that have pet insurance, they are much more likely to be able to follow a veterinarian's recommendations, and are going to be able to afford the care that their pet all of a sudden needs. It's incredibly problematic when they don't have that insurance, and all of a sudden, they can't afford care that their pet needs, so they realize that. However, veterinarians who've been around for quite a while also have some uncomfortability for some of the reasons that I mentioned, pet insurance companies deciding not to cover thing or what have you.

Why don't you tell us a little bit about Pawlicy Advisor. What can you do? What can you take us through today?

I appreciate it. You nailed it. Unfortunately, pet parents have difficulties finding what is the best insurance policy for them, and on top of that, as you mentioned, it makes it difficult for veterinarians to recommend one or two insurance brands due to liability and the fear of the unknown of recommending something that might not work out for that pet parent and then ultimately leaving a bad taste in their mouth and coming back to the veterinarian or staff and blaming them.

At Pawlicy Advisor, what we like to do is educate veterinarian teams and staff members to let them know how easy it can be to talk about pet insurance as a whole and confidently say, "Hey, we recommend pet insurance." It makes our lives so much easier when something happens to your animal, but also gives you the pet parent peace of mind when something does happen that, hey, you have coverage for it and they'll be ready to go. Today, if it's alright with you, I'd love to run you through a slide deck of what I typically share with veterinarian teams, and then of course answer any questions you might have, then share a little information on how veterinarian staff members can reach out to us and learn a little bit more about Pawlicy Advisor.

Just so the audience knows, about how long is the deck to go through?

Our Lunch-and-Learns typically last about anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of questions that come up. What's nice is they're all done via Zoom, so we try to keep it very efficient and streamlined for the clinic because we realize clinics, to say the least, are running at the speed of light. So we want to make sure that we tackle this important conversation about pet insurance, but also do it in a timely manner, so it doesn't disrupt day-to-day business flow.

Awesome. Is this the same deck that you go through in those Lunch-and-Learns?

Yeah, absolutely. I'm going to go through it pretty quickly. Please feel free to interrupt me if you have any questions along the way. But the reason why I like to share this information deck at the beginning of each presentation is because it is essentially insurance 101. It lays the foundation for the veterinarian teams to understand how pet insurance works, but on top of that, they also get a better idea of why we created Pawlicy Advisor the way that we did.

Awesome. Take it away.

I'll share my screen here. One thing that I always like to call out at the top of our presentation is that we are a preferred business provider of AAHA. That's something that we're really proud of and excited for because as you know, AAHA is kind of the highest standard when it comes to working with clinics, so we're really excited to be a partner with them. And then what I typically go through is, like I said, pet insurance 101. I start at a very high level. What is pet insurance? The big call-out that I always like to share on this accident illness slide is that there's typically a two-week waiting period. The reason for that is of course insurance companies want to make money. They don't want to insure a burning building, so to speak. So that's why there is that two-week waiting period.

On the flip side, on wellness, what's really nice about some of the carriers that we have on our platform is that they offer some sort of wellness. What I mean by that is these wellness plans will go towards preventative care, as well as some of them will even offer some sort of coverage for spay and neuters as well. One thing that I always like to call out is that there is typically no waiting period for this wellness. So if the pet parent would like to get some sort of wellness, they can get that right away and walk in and be covered for whatever preventative, or like I said, spay and neuter. Then, why vets should care about pet insurance. This is something that I like to share with clinics as well, it’s really interesting. These numbers that I'm sharing with you are from a study done back in 2019 by AVMA. What they found is that people that have pet insurance typically spend more money to the tune number around $211 per pet per year.

On top of that, those people also visit the clinic more frequently, around 20% more often. What's interesting here, as I mentioned, is that this study is from 2019. As you know, a lot has changed since then, we went through a pandemic inflation and all things in between. Rumor has it, the numbers that I'm showing you now are pretty low in comparison to what we're hearing today. However, the numbers that we are hearing today are a little bit more hand-wavy. We don't actually have any concrete case studies to back them up, so that's why we like to share these numbers.

Speaking of AVMA, I always like to share some information on their thoughts about the importance of pet insurance. I'm not going to run through every single one here for time purposes, but there are two on here that I always like to mention, which are the bottom two. Decreases economic euthanasia and decreases economic decline of care. The reason why I call out those two bullet points is because those are two major initiatives and goals of Pawlicy Advisors to hopefully make those conversations a thing of the past. We find that if pet parents do have pet insurance, at the end of the day they'll say, "Hey, do whatever you need to do. I have pet insurance," which allows the veterinarian staff as well as the staff members to really say, "Hey, let's give the best care possible."

We've talked a little bit about liability throughout this conversation, and I can't stress it enough. This is something that we really want to mitigate off the clinic's plate. We've heard time and time again of some unfortunate stories where people will go into their veterinarian office and say, "Hey, you recommended this insurance brand. Why isn't this accident or illness being covered by the plan you recommended?" Or again, maybe that pet parent just had a really bad experience and they come back to the staff member and say, "Hey, you recommended this. Why am I going through what I'm going through right now?" So we really want to mitigate that risk and liability off the clinic's plate.

On top of that, there are so many factors that go into the underwriting process. I've shared some here, I'll go through this in real time with you as well so you have a better idea of how Pawlicy Advisor works. But one last thing that I always like to call out during the insurance 101 slide deck is that prices can increase anywhere from 5 to 35% annually. What we find here, which is truly unfortunate, is that a lot of people will go to Google after their doctors or staff member says, "Hey, check out Google," or, "Here's a bunch of brochures." What will happen is sometimes they'll find what they think is a rockstar super cheap option, and then ultimately, what they find out down the road is that that price or that policy that they purchased, that that price will increase, like I said, anywhere from 5 to 35% annually.

Then they'll say, "Hey, you know what? I haven't had any accidents, I haven't had any illnesses, I haven't had any claims. What's the point of pet insurance? I'm spending crazy amounts of money. I'm going to drop this." So one of the big things that Pawlicy Advisor wants to let pet parents know is not only what that cost looks like on day one, but also what that cost looks like as that animal ages and becomes a little bit more senior, and also a little bit more prone to those accidents and illnesses. We'll let the pet parent know again what that cost looks like on day one as well as what that cost looks like as that animal ages.

How can Pawlicy Advisor help? I'm going to toggle over here to the actual shopping experience. What's nice is now when a veterinarian or staff member says, "Hey, check out Pawlicy Advisor," it's super simple. Again, they can talk about the category as a whole, be confident about recommending insurance, and now the pet parent can go through this super simple shopping experience. All they have to do is hit “get my pet's quote.” I'm just going to put in my dog's name here. Female. She is two years old and has pre-existing conditions. Of course, some pet parents might have an animal that has a pre-existing condition. This ultimately plays into whether or not that carrier might or might not cover that animal. So here, this is going to be a key question that we ask.

One thing that we do is if that pet parent clicks yes here is that we can showcase care credit as an option. Another big thing that Pawlicy Advisor wants to let pet parents know is that pet insurance might not be the best fit, maybe there's other alternative options out there. In this case, a classic example is CareCredit.

Down here, what's nice is the pet parenting pin, select what kind of breed they have. If they have a mixed breed, they can just throw some spaghetti against the wall, so to speak, and pick and choose what breeds. They think their animal might be nice here so that they don't have to have a DNA test or anything like that for their animal. But if I just wanted to put in a pure bred as well, I can do that. I'm going to go with a greyhound here. What's also really nice is that if that pet parent has additional animals in the household, they can add each additional animal and get a 10% discount. From here, all they have to do is continue on. Then I'm just going to put in my zip code here, and get quotes.

As you can see, it's a very quick shopping experience. What we'll do now is we'll let the pet parent know how our algorithm works, what's going on on our side. On top of that, as you can see, we price guarantee everything as well. Similar to a KAYAK or Priceline, if an airline changes seat fares or anything like that, all that information will be pushed over in real time. Same here. If a carrier changes their pricing, deductible, coverage, whatever the case may be, that information will push over in real time to make it super easy for that pet parent to figure out what is best for them.

What's nice is the pet parent can figure out what's best for them from a couple different options. So you can see we have the most recommended, best coverage or lowest payment. Here, I'm going to keep it on recommended for now. Embrace seems to be the best option for my greyhound here in Dana Point, California. The first thing that we're going to do is let the pet parent know a very high-level overview of that recommendation. You can see here that we have a scale of 1 to 10 from a coverage score standpoint, as well as a lifetime price score standpoint. So that 9.9 out of 10, that's really good. That means that that price is not going to fluctuate too much as that animal ages. Again, we want to let that pet parent know that, "Hey, this is a great policy, and that price will not fluctuate too much."

If the pet parent wants to learn more, all they have to do is click onto this link here, at which point we'll give them a little bit more detail on why we recommended embracing this case for this particular animal. But we'll go into detail here about that. What's also really nice is if this pet parent wants to play around with the numbers to fit within a budget that works well for them. This $78, let's say I'd rather have a higher deductible, I can change that. Now that $78 is $48. Or I can change that back. I can also play around with reimbursement and annual coverage as well. I mentioned wellness plans in the presentation. Here you can see that Embrace has some sort of wellness. If you want to click onto it, it will showcase the preventatives that will help cover. Depending on the carrier, these will vary, but it's just another nice way to have a holistic conversation with that pet parent about not only accident and illness, but also the wellness side as well.

This is, in my opinion, what I think is the most important part. Now pet parents can figure out, "Hey, is this really the best option for my animal? Maybe I should compare it to some others." Here you can see that I have Embrace on the left, I have ASPCA on the right. One thing that I always like to feature here, so this 45% more. This means that that price is potentially going to increase 45% more as that animal ages. That's not to say ASPCA's a bad patient insurance company, right? They're an incredible patent insurance company. It just really does depend on those breeds, locations, date of births, things like that, that really determine what will be the best policy. Maybe if this was a chihuahua or a different breed for example, the rules could be totally flipped in that situation.

Here, you can see again a very high level for that pet parent to see exactly what's going on with a side-by-side comparison. You'll notice here that the coverage score is slightly higher. So maybe that pet parent, for that reason, is willing to spend a little extra money. Maybe they had gone through something with their animal prior to adopting their new animal that they never want to go through again, and they want to make sure that they have coverage for whatever they went through. To that point, what we've done is pulled out all the fine print and all the legal jargon. Not only did we do this, like I said, to help that pet parent figure out what is truly important to them, but also when we started this company, what's really fascinating is we interviewed hundreds of people and asked them why the heck they weren't buying pet insurance. Two of the biggest common denominators were there are too many pet insurance companies out there and they were overwhelmed by all the options.

On top of that, when they finally found a company that they thought that they really liked, once they took a deep dive into that policy, they were overwhelmed with the inclusions and exclusions of that policy. Ultimately, they got frustrated and walked away. So another big goal of Pawlicy Advisors is to make this super streamlined and super easy for that pet parent to figure out what is covered, what's not covered, and buy with confidence.

To that point, you can see here covered, covered, side-by-side comparison. What's also really nice is we give definitions of what some of these line items actually mean. They have a better understanding of, hey, what is a chronic condition? Or things like that. They have a better example of what that is. And then down here, if it's only sometimes covered, this is another nice feature that we have is we explain why, in this case, Embrace will only sometimes cover periodontal disease. We go into detail on that topic, just to alert the pet parent that this might not always be covered. Then of course, if it's not covered, we're going to showcase that. The reason for that is, of course, we don't want any gotcha moments or potential liability down the road. Again, the pet parent can really see exactly what's covered and not covered. At the very bottom of the page, we give the pet parent two options too. Once they hit this checkout button, they can go directly through the carrier, in this case Embrace, or they can go through Pawlicy Advisor. Either way, it's price guaranteed.

Going back to the main page here, I can go back to checking out other similar providers as well. If I really want to get in the weeds, we have 242 more pet insurance plans for this particular breed in this location of the country.

David, I know I went through that pretty quickly, but essentially this is what I go through during the Lunch-and-Learns. I know it's good for vet clinic owners as well as veterinarians to learn about pet insurance, but the reason why we have these Lunch-and-Learns is to educate the entire team as well because we want to make sure that everyone in the clinic understands the importance of pet insurance. I know I keep saying this, but I really want to make sure that staff members feel confident when talking about pet insurance because we realize not only is having coverage for the animal great for the wellbeing of the pet parent, but hopefully also great for the wellbeing of the clinic as well.

That's really fantastic. Great job. I'm still blown away at the interface. Being a tech guy and having been involved in building a lot of really cool online tools and things like that, you guys have done a phenomenal job. Taking a lot of various factors for every breed and all the different stuff that they commonly experience, which are different problems per breed as veterinarians well know, and looking at all of the different plans and understanding how their pricing tends to change over time, and all of that and turning it into this interface that is really very intuitive, I think, to go through. Also, deep in that you can really drill down if you want to. Just an absolutely fantastic job.

To wrap it up for the teams. I know one of the big things is from the vet practice owner or manager's perspective, they want their teams to have a tool and be able to reference something, but they don't want them to feel like they need to become the experts or spend a bunch of time getting into this.

Do you have some quick common FAQ responses?

Absolutely. Great question. We have quite a few options for the clinics to utilize when that conversation does come up, "Hey, who do you recommend for pet insurance?" We have brochures, we have QR codes, we also have some other marketing materials that we can place throughout the clinic to help that conversation. Also, to your point about people asking and taking a lot of time throughout the busy day of a clinic of, "Hey, who do you recommend?" We've heard anecdotally that those conversations can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, and with clinics running at the speed of light, that's obviously a ton of time.

We have a nice 800 number as well as a live-chat feature, and it's a great place for clinics to point their clients in the direction of saying, "Hey, you have a question. I appreciate that question. Check out Pawlicy Advisor." Not only can we help them with some of those questions through our website, but as mentioned, they can call that 800 number. What's nice about that number is that we have a team of licensed insurance professionals at the other end of that call, that can handle those questions that might come up in the clinic. Some questions that we hear a lot of times are, "Hey, I already have pet insurance in place, but I just found a cheaper option. Is it worth switching?" As you know, sometimes pet parents will not share all the information. So in that case, maybe the insurance provider that they currently have is covering a pre-existing condition, but they found that cheaper option, they now want to switch, but they didn't share with a veterinarian team that, "Hey, this is covering a pre-existing condition."

That's going back to the liability again, where maybe that staff member says, "Yeah, why not? Why wouldn't you switch? It's cheaper." But they didn't disclose all that information. And now, that person buys that pet insurance policy and then that pre-existing condition that was covered is now not covered. So things like that, that's the last thing we want to happen to a veterinarian clinic. So again, please lean on Pawlicy Advisor for all those questions. We hope to essentially weaponize the clinic with all these resources to make that conversation a lot easier for them.

I think it really should be. It comes down to, wow, you guys have really built a great tool. This really has people's best experience at heart and in mind. You have built a fantastic experience that's simple for them to go through. That's the place to go. We've done our homework. I can tell you that's the best place to go, and you really need to get that question answered by an insurance expert. For your pet health questions, you're in the right place at the veterinary clinic to talk to a veterinarian and vet tech and deal with the actual pet health recommendations when it comes to the insurance stuff to make sure we get you that expert as well, and that's Pawlicy Advisor.

If a veterinary practice wants to explore potentially signing up for a Lunch-and-Learn or reaching out and getting some of those materials, where do they go and what's the best thing that they can do to make that simple?

They can go to From there, they can request some more information. I'll also share some information with you after this meeting where the veterinarian teams can reach out to set up a Lunch-and-Learn. As mentioned, it’s 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops, where we just go through the importance of pet insurance, how we can help that clinic out when something does come up in regards to pet insurance. Ultimately, make it a little fun also and have some good food brought in for everyone.

I'm sure that anybody here who's watching this has already seen we've dropped a couple links there in chat. They can go to fill out that form. We'll get you in touch with Pawlicy Advisor if you're listening to this on a podcast, in the podcast description, we've got a link so you can go there. So check that out, reach out, Pawlicy Advisor, great way to go. Ryan, thanks so much for taking some time out of your busy day to meet with us here today, and for all that you guys are doing to really streamline this very necessary service.

I really appreciate the time, David. My pleasure.

Thanks so much. Hey, everybody. That wraps it for today's show. Thanks so much. I hope that you got a lot out of it. Join us next week. We've just got, week after week, we've been really lucky this season. We've got so many CEOs and leaders, industry leaders, and just brilliant professionals that are supporting the veterinary profession that have been reaching out to get on the show to bring some really valuable information. We are really weeding through things and only going to bring you what we think are the best solutions, the best insights in the industry to help veterinary practice owners and managers run better, stronger businesses this year. So tune in every week for more of that.

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What you basically want is all roads in Google leading to your practice, whether it is a doctor or potential staff member who's looking for and exploring new job opportunities, if it is a pet parent looking for a new veterinarian. When they turn to Google, we want all roads to lead to your practice. So free resources from GeniusVets, and that'll actually unlock a lot of other really fantastic resources, things that partners are giving to us to make available to you and more. So check it out. Go to and have a great day. See you next time.