Practices need to prepare for insurance shake up
Pet insurance company Vetsure’s founder and veterinary surgeon, Ashley Gray, says that following a recent FCA review of Appointed Representatives and pending new EU legislation, practices need to prepare to change their status with respect to the way that they currently promote pet insurance.
Pet insurance is hugely important to the profession and to pet owners who are able to ensure that their pet receives the treatment they need without worries about affordability. Most practices encourage their clients to obtain insurance cover for their pets and are often asked to suggest a provider but as promotion of pet insurance is a regulated activity, practices can only promote the pet insurers for whom they are an Appointed Representative or Introducer Appointed Representative.
Ashley explains that the Appointed Representative category, commonly used in practices, has never been an ideal fit with the profession, “The Appointed Representative is usually applied to insurance brokers and intermediaries who issue cover and collect money on behalf of the insurer. Aside from the issuing of cover notes for free periods, most practices don’t undertake the tasks typically carried out by an Appointed Representative and don’t really want or need to.”
According to FCA rules, Appointed Representatives should be subject to thorough monitoring and financial checks and under the new Insurance Distribution Directive will now also need to undertake 15 hours of insurance CPD per year, with each person required to do the training. This is clearly not sustainable for practices.
Vetsure’s solution is that practices take on a different status and become Introducer Appointed Representatives. Ashley says that this is a much better fit for veterinary professionals, “There’s no need to take a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. An Introducer can still promote a preferred pet insurer and can offer exclusive deals such as free periods of cover but doesn’t need to get into the details of the policies on offer. Instead, they can provide the pet owner with information to examine at their leisure and ‘introduce’ the client to the insurer via an electronic gateway or otherwise.”
He continued, “Practice staff have enough to do attending to clinical matters and with this tried and tested approach they can continue to increase uptake of pet insurance and support their clients.”
Vetsure will still provide training and support so that veterinary staff can feel confident about the policies they are promoting and are aware of exactly what they can and can’t say about pet insurance. All practices working with the company have already been given new agreements compliant with the new legislation to be enforced later this year. It clarifies that practices can still actively promote Vetsure insurance, display materials in the waiting room, submit five weeks free applications and process e-claims.
It will be up to individual insurance companies to decide what action to take in light of the new Directive. Ashley believes that it is best to opt for the simple solution, “We know that other insurance companies will be coming up with their own solutions to this legislation, and the concerns expressed by the FCA, but for us, it’s not in anyone’s best interests to develop complex work arounds or to play with semantics and risk running afoul of the regulators. We have an effective, honest and transparent solution to this issue that will still allow vets and vet nurses to communicate the benefits of pet insurance and the providers they like to promote.”
Any practice wishing to discuss the implications of the recent findings of the FCA Review of Appointed Representatives or Insurance Distribution Directive can talk to their Vetsure representative or visit http://www.vetsurevet.com/2018/01/29/vetsure-provides-simple-solution-pet-insurance-regulatory-changes/ to find out more.