Everyone loves a unicorn. 

  • they’re symbols of freedom, power and peace
  • they’re capable of magical miracles
  • they can grant eternal happiness
  • and they make it all look effortless!

But even more rare than the unicorn is the elusive insurance unicorn. Believe it or not, we’re going to teach you how to become one.

As an insurance unicorn, you will:

  • feel freedom, power and peace of mind (it all comes with knowing you’re protected)
  • have access to magical miracles (trust me, insurance is magical when you need it)
  • have a greater capacity to spread happiness (when your health is protected, you can better serve your clients and patients… stop to think about the positive impact you have!)

Never realized how cool insurance is, did you?

We’re going to make this as effortless as possible. Without further ado…


Understanding relief vets and insurance

Most relief vets are not eligible for group benefits simply because they do not meet the eligibility criteria of the various hospitals where they work. This leaves relief veterinarians responsible for obtaining insurance coverage on their own.

There are three major insurance plans that every veterinarian should consider having at a minimum:

  • health insurance
  • liability insurance
  • individual long term disability insurance


Pros of overseeing your own insurance planning

  • The ability to select plans that meet your unique and specific needs is liberating. Many group benefits packages offer a very one-size-fits-all approach.

    For example, you may want a low deductible health plan, yet a small practice may only offer a high deductible plan. Perhaps a group disability plan has an “any occupation” definition of disability while you, as a doctor, may prefer an “own occupation” definition.

    Many group benefit plans are designed to cover the masses. This could mean the kennel staff member who makes $25,000 has the same insurance plan as a veterinarian who makes $150,000.
  • Your plan is your plan. Possessing independent insurance means that the plan is in your name, not the clinic’s. This means the plans follow you from clinic to clinic – typically with ease. No more changing insurance every time you change jobs. There is comfort in continuity.  



Like most things in life, you must take the good with the bad.

Cons of overseeing your own insurance planning

  • Medical underwriting: While this requirement has been wiped away on health insurance (ACA), we still see medical underwriting on individual life and disability insurance. If you have medical conditions, the insurance company could elect to charge you more or decline you coverage. Group insurance coverage typically has no medical underwriting if you enroll in a timely manner.
  • The time and energy of doing it by yourself: Let’s face it – everyone is super busy, and enrollment in group benefits sometimes only takes 15 minutes. On your own, it may take 30-45 days to obtain individual life insurance and/or individual disability insurance. The insurance company may ask you to provide income and medical information. Simply put, it is just more work than enrolling in group benefits.

So there’s your crash course on earning your horn. We recommend that you identify your needs and make your own pro/con lists. If you want your magical transition to be even more effortless, feel free to reach out to Total Planning Veterinary Services for help. Either way, don’t underestimate the miraculous power of insurance… and your ability to harness it!


*The article provides a very brief summary of informational points regarding insurance considerations for veterinarians and should not be solely used for making insurance decisions. Seek professional advice for information regarding your specific insurance needs. Remember to check your insurance plans for specific information regarding costs, limitations, and exclusions.

Keith Lerner, ChFC®, CLU is passionate about helping veterinarians with insurance. He founded Total Planning Veterinary Services thirty-three years ago. Since 2022, Total Planning Veterinary Services has partnered with Relief Rover to provide community members with discounts on their individual disability insurance plans. Members, visit your Relief Pro Perks page to learn more. Gonzalo Borquez, Managing Director of Total Planning, co-authored this article.


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