4 Pet Insurance Companies That Pay Your Vet Directly

Summary:

Instead of paying upfront for the vet bill and submitting a claim, some pet insurance companies now offer vet direct pay. This option pays a portion of your vet bills directly without going through the reimbursement process yourself. The best pet insurance companies, or the most convenient, will even pay your vet bill at the time of checkout. Other pet insurance companies may take a little longer to process the claim reimbursement, but they’ll still send direct payment to your veterinarian.

Back in the day, pets often served a more practical purpose at home. Cats kept the mice (and other vermin) population low, while dogs herded the sheep or cattle and helped scare away predators. Because of this, pets may not have received much veterinary care throughout their lives.

Now, however, pets are a part of the family, and pet insurance is an important way for pet parents to ensure their animals get the very best medical care possible. Read on to learn about pet insurance plans that allow for a vet direct pay model and how the process works for different types of pet insurance policies.

Is there pet insurance that pays the vet directly?

Pet owners know that vet bills are costly, even without some type of emergency or other unexpected vet bills. And pet insurance generally helps to minimize out-of-pocket costs, which can be a lifesaver. However, most pet insurance companies usually require pet owners to pay the vet bill, file a claim, and then get reimbursed later on.

Because of this, vet direct pay is an attractive option for pet owners, particularly when the vet bill is especially high. It can be a struggle for many pet owners if they don’t have the cash on hand to cover the entire vet bill and have to wait for the insurance company to reimburse them.

Given the convenience of vet direct pay, it’s surprising that only a handful of pet insurance companies offer this payment method. However, it does hinge on a veterinarian who is willing to accept direct payment. That may also explain why most pet insurance providers stick with the standard pet insurance coverage model.

Pet insurance companies that offer vet direct pay

  • Pets Best Insurance Company
  • Trupanion Pet Insurance
  • Healthy Paws Pet Insurance
  • Petplan Pet Insurance

How does vet direct pay work

Not all pet insurance companies that use vet direct pay will cover part of your pet’s veterinary bill the same way. Some pet insurance companies pay at the time of check-out but others are a little more complicated.

Direct payment at checkout

The most convenient method for most pet owners and veterinarians is the pet insurance model where the vet gets direct payment at the time of checkout.

In this scenario, your vet will first have to agree to accept direct payments from the pet insurance company. This is usually done in writing. Once an agreement has been secured, the vet clinic will submit a claim to the pet insurance company, usually through its online portal.

Next, the pet owner pays their portion of the vet bill, including any co-payments or deductibles. Then the pet insurance company sends the rest via direct payment to the vet — often within seconds or minutes.

Pro Tip

Pet owners who frequently take their pets on vacation should check with their insurance provider to make sure the pet insurance is accepted at other veterinary care facilities. In addition to this, you’ll also want to check if vet direct pay is even an option while traveling.

Direct payment reimbursement

Even if your pet insurance coverage doesn’t pay at the time of checkout, you’ll still need to get a written agreement from the veterinary clinic acknowledging they will accept vet direct pay. Sometimes you can submit the claim along with the vet’s written consent. However, you may need to set that up beforehand, depending on your pet insurance policy.

In this case, the pet insurance company will still pay the vet directly after the claim and other forms have been submitted but there are waiting periods. The waiting periods vary but are typically between five and 30 days. And, just like with other pet insurance plans, you’ll have to pay the deductible, co-pay, and any other costs not covered by the pet insurance company first.

Some other pet insurance companies may not advertise that they offer vet direct pay but will provide it on a case-by-case basis. You can check with your insurance company to see if this is an option for you.

Pro Tip

If you’re a pet owner struggling with vet bills, consider applying for a CareCredit card, which can be used to help pay for medical expenses, including unexpected vet bills.

You might also want to apply for a credit card with a 0% introductory rate. This way you can pay for your vet bills over time without worrying about accruing interest. However, make sure to repay the card before the introductory rate expires. Otherwise, you’ll have to start paying interest on the remaining balance.

Types of pet insurance plans

Pet insurance companies typically offer a few different plan options. You can get a wellness policy (also known as a preventive care plan), accident and illness coverage, or some combination.

The best pet insurance policy has the most comprehensive coverage and offers both wellness benefits as well as accident and illness coverage. The comprehensive coverage has your pet covered in almost any situation. That said, vet exam fees, hereditary and congenital conditions, and pre-existing conditions aren’t typically covered even under the most comprehensive plans.

Keep in mind that getting an insurance plan with vet direct pay is typically an add-on item. This means you’ll likely pay more for the convenience of the vet direct payment feature.

How to choose the right pet insurance plan

When choosing a pet insurance policy that’s right for you, there are several things pet owners will want to consider. In addition to the following, also factor in your pet’s age, breed, and whether it has any hereditary, pre-existing, or congenital conditions (which may not be covered by most pet insurance companies).

  • Monthly costs. Monthly premiums can vary widely based on the pet insurance provider, where you live, and the coverage options you choose.
  • Deductible. A higher deductible will lower your monthly payment but will increase your out-of-pocket costs for exam fees and other services. Consider your deductible when deciding what you can afford on a monthly or annual basis.
  • Coverage. Decide if you need more comprehensive coverage that includes wellness benefits plus accident and illness coverage or if you can get by with an accident-only plan, illness coverage, or other pet insurance plan options. You’ll also want to consider plans with unlimited annual coverage and those that are capped at a specific yearly amount.
  • Waiting periods. Companies will reimburse you or your vet directly, depending on your pet insurance company. However, waiting periods can vary quite a bit. Some promise to pay the vet or pet owner within five days, while others may take up to 30 days or more.

Along with these considerations, keep in mind that you may not be able to use your policy’s direct pay if you visit a vet outside of your network.

Alternatives to vet direct pay for your pet’s vet bills

If your insurance company doesn’t offer vet direct pay, or if you’ve opted against getting pet insurance at all, it may be daunting to pay those vet bills. Fortunately, there are a few other financing options you can use.

  • Credit card. As we mentioned before, you can apply for a new credit card with an introductory offer of 0% APR. Since these offers tend to last more than a year, you’ll have plenty of time to repay whatever bills you’ve charged to your new card.
  • Personal loan. For more favorable interest rates than you can get with credit cards, apply for a personal loan to pay for what your pet insurer won’t cover. Though you won’t have a 0% introductory offer, personal loans come with smaller interest rates that make repaying that loan a little easier.

If you’re not sure where to start looking for personal loans, take a look and compare the lenders below.

Will a vet’s office offer payment plans for treatment?

Most veterinarians expect payment in full at the time that services are provided. In fact, you’ll usually see signs posted at the pet hospital or veterinary clinic stating that payment for treatments is due at the time of service.

That being said, if you’re in a bind, you may be able to negotiate to pay the vet a portion of the services now and the rest at a later date. But it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re a long-standing pet owner with a vet office and show a history of promptly paying your vet bills.

FAQs

Is pet insurance worth it?

As explained, vet bills can become expensive very quickly. Even a single vet visit for routine work can cost pet parents hundreds of dollars. And sometimes, sadly, a pet’s care has to take a backseat to what a pet owner can afford in out-of-pocket payments. This is especially true when a licensed vet recommends certain treatments that are not strictly needed but are ultimately beneficial to a pet’s health.

Pet insurance plans are one of the best ways to ensure your pet’s necessary health care without going bankrupt in the process. Top pet insurance companies offer plans in many price ranges and with different coverage types, such as accident-only plans or illness and accident coverage. Different options can save you money in the short term while still protecting you from an unexpected vet bill.

Can you get pet insurance discounts?

Most insurance companies offer pet insurance discounts in certain cases. One of the most common discounts is for pet insurance plans that cover multiple pets in the household. Those can be particularly budget-friendly for pet owners that have both cats and dogs.

Additionally, you may be able to get discounts if you are elderly, in the military, or if your company has an employer-sponsored pet insurance plan. You can also save money by electing for lesser insurance provider options. For example, pet parents with a younger dog or cat may get by with accident-only coverage.

Does pet insurance cover exotic pets?

Most pet insurance companies only cover cats and dogs because they are the most common types of pets and require regular vaccinations and preventive visits. Even a vet visit for healthy animals can get fairly steep.

However, there are a few pet insurance companies that will cover some veterinary care for birds, lizards, or other exotic pets. Make sure to clearly explain which pets you need under your policy before purchasing pet insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • Vet direct pay is an optional feature on some insurance plans where pet insurance companies cooperate with veterinary offices that accept direct payments.
  • Pet insurance policies that pay the vet directly help ease the burden on pet owners having to come up with the money for expensive vet bills upfront.
  • To take advantage of vet direct pay, your veterinary office must agree in writing to accept direct payments.
  • Some pet health insurance policies may not offer vet direct pay for an out-of-network veterinary care provider.
View Article Sources
  1. Pet Health Insurance — Illinois Department of Insurance
  2. A Regulator’s Guide to Pet Insurance — National Association of Insurance Commissioners
  3. Regulatory standards on pet health insurance being developed — American Veterinary Medical Association
  4. Can I Buy My Dog A Seat On An Airplane? — SuperMoney
  5. How Much Do Veterinarians Make? — SuperMoney
  6. How to Find Renters and Home Insurance That Covers Dogs — SuperMoney
  7. How Much Does It Cost To Euthanize and Cremate a Dog? — SuperMoney
  8. Dealing With Veterinary Bills – Quick Loan Options — SuperMoney
  9. How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan — SuperMoney