Do All Vets Take Pet Insurance?

min read
Updated: 19 September 2023
Written by
Lacey Jackson-Matsushima
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Pets bring us joy and improve our mental (and sometimes physical) health, so it is important to return the favor. While regular vet visits improve the quality of life for your furry friends, pet insurance can decrease the cost.

Most people are unaware of just how expensive vet bills can be. A simple injury or unexpected illness can cost thousands of dollars. You can avoid these costs with pet insurance and choose any vet you want because all vets take pet insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • All veterinarians accept pet insurance.

  • There are 3 types of pet insurance plans you can get.

  • The claims process for pet insurance is often fast, with invoices or photos submitted online and reimbursements directly deposited into your account.

  • Pet insurance only covers qualifying events, so check the plan coverage before submitting a claim.

Do all vets take pet insurance?

Yes, your pet insurance is accepted by all licensed veterinarians.

Pet insurance works a bit differently than your health insurance. You don’t have to choose an in-network provider, which means you can go to any veterinarian, and you don’t have to update your veterinarian if you move or if you are out of town.

Forget Everything You Know About “In-Network” Providers

With your (human) health insurance, you have to hope you get sick or injured close to home because that is where your primary care physician is. Many health insurance providers are limited to regions or states, so you can only find doctors and specialists in your local area. Heaven forbid you get injured in another state!

All of this hassle is because insurance providers for humans have pre-existing agreements with specific (in-network) doctors and specialists, which explain the costs for different services. This makes it easy for your insurance to say, “Sure, we can cover X, Y, and Z” because they know how much X, Y, and Z will cost, respectively.

They don’t have those agreements with out-of-network providers, so they often won’t cover the costs because they don’t know how much it will cost.

Thankfully, pet insurance works differently. There are no in-network providers for pet insurance.

So your pet can be injured or ill any time, anywhere, and you can sleep soundly knowing the costs for covered treatment will be reimbursed.

How does pet insurance payout for vet claims?

The claims process for pet insurance looks very similar no matter which insurance provider you have.

  1. You pay for the vet appointment and any services upfront.
  2. You submit a claim to your insurance.
  3. Your pet insurance provider reimburses you the money for qualifying accidents/illnesses.

Submitting Your Claim

First, you submit the information to your pet insurance provider. This can often be a screenshot, photo, or photocopy of things like your receipts and invoices.

Tracking the Status

Most pet insurance providers have a member center with a portal where you can submit claims online but, more importantly, track the status of your claims at any time. Some services go so far as to give you email updates about the claim so you’ll know if they need additional information or when the claim is closed.

Getting Paid

Finally, you wait to get paid. Pet insurance companies will generally list how quickly it takes for claims to be processed on their website. Many companies let you choose your method of reimbursement, such as a direct deposit into your bank or mailing you a check.

Tip: If you are on a strict budget, look for a company with fast reimbursement times like Fetch, which reimburses within 15 days, so you aren’t out of pocket between paychecks.

So, how do you make sure a pet insurance claim will be successful?

First, review your member benefits. This should be a summary of benefits, something you can ask for directly if you can’t find it in an online portal or in the stack of unopened mail. In it, you will find what items are covered by your policy or not.

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Second, make sure you are only submitting claims for qualifying events.

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Third, submit your claim in a timely fashion; some insurance providers have a time frame during which you can submit your claim, but once it ends, you won’t be able to seek reimbursement. *ASPCA, for example, accepts claims up to 8 months after treatment.

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Fourth, send in all accompanying receipts and invoices for the claim. Remember that this might extend beyond the invoices you get at the vet; sometimes, vets prescribe medication or food that is covered by your policy but which you order through third-party delivery services.

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Tip: When you visit the vet, be sure to get printed and emailed copies of your invoice and save any receipts for online medication purchases or prescription subscriptions for reimbursement.

Let’s look at an example with ASPCA Pet Insurance.

Submitting Claims with ASPCA

They have three ways to submit your claims:

  1. ASPCA has a pet insurance app that you can use to submit claims.
  2. Conversely, you can submit claims online through their member center.
  3. Finally, you can download a form and follow the instructions to submit a claim via email, fax, or mail.

Once you submit your claim, you can track the status in your member center or using the same app. The company also emails you:

  • Once they receive your claim
  • If at any point they need anything else
  • And when the claim is finished

If your claim is rejected, they will tell you why and you can try to resubmit if you were missing information for a qualifying accident or injury. If your claim is approved, they either direct deposit the money into your bank account or send you a check.

How to find a vet that takes pet insurance

Pet insurance is all policyholder based, which means you won’t have to worry about finding a vet that takes pet insurance because they all do!

Preparing for your visit

  1. Once you have your pet insurance, you can schedule an appointment using whatever method your veterinarian accepts. Some veterinarians allow you to schedule appointments over the phone or online. You can also go in person to schedule an appointment.
  2. Before heading to your appointment, bring things like a list of medications or supplements they are taking, a picture of prescription foods they are on, a list of questions you might have, or videos you have taken that demonstrate certain behaviors or movements that are cause for concern. You don’t have to bring proof of insurance like you would going to your doctor.
  3. After the appointment, be sure to get a copy of any invoices or receipts for the services received. You will need the Veterinary Care invoice as well as your proof of payment to make a claim with your pet insurance provider.

Tip: When you take out a policy, check the date it goes into effect and book appointments after that date if you want the coverage to apply.

Tips for finding a new veterinarian

NAPHIA’s 2022 industry report revealed that 4.41 million pets have pet insurance. But once you get insurance, how do you find a vet?

If you already have an existing vet, you can continue to work with them and schedule your appointments as you normally would, and then submit claims to your pet insurance provider for qualifying appointments.

If you don’t have an existing vet, you can use multiple avenues to find a vet in your area, such as:

  1. Google searches for veterinarians in your area
  2. Online vet locator databases
  3. Make sure vets are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association or are members of professional veterinary associations.
  4. Visiting local vets in person to check on the organization and cleanliness of their office
  5. Call vets you are considering to ask about their policies for emergencies, the average wait time to book non-emergency appointments, or whether you can request specific vets (if they have more than one)
  6. Word of mouth–Ask friends and family in the area who they would recommend. This is usually the best way to get someone you already know to be reputable and professional.

In list format, please explain the steps someone should take in order to find a great vet.

What does pet insurance cover?

34% of pet owners don’t have pet insurance because they don’t know much about it. So let’s look at what pet insurance covers. There are three plans from which to choose:

  1. Accident only
  2. Accident and illness
  3. Wellness

The table below indicates what is covered by each:

Accident Only Plan Accident and Illness Plan Wellness Plan (Add-on)
Accidents and injuries Yes Yes No
Common Illnesses No Yes No
Chronic illnesses No Yes No
Hereditary conditions No Yes No
Preventative care No No Yes
Tests Yes, for accident-related incidents only Yes, for accidents or illnesses No
Prescriptions Yes, for accident-related incidents only Yes, for accidents or illnesses No
Procedures Yes, for accident-related incidents only Yes, for accidents or illnesses No
Holistic care Yes Yes No

The table below shows an average price for common illnesses and injuries covered by pet insurance so you get an idea of just how much you can save with pet insurance:

Stomach issues (ingesting toxins, food allergies, eating toys) 26% of vet visits Up to $29,086
Skin conditions (allergies, insect bites, mange, rashes, or infections) 17% of vet visits Up to $4,138
Pain (genetic conditions, accidents, arthritis, aging) 14% of vet visits Up to $11,425
Ear infections (rahses, cancer, infections) 10% of vet visits Up to $12,954
Eye conditions (abrasions, dry eye, infections, cataracts, glaucoma) 7.7% of vet visits Up to $7,637
Growth (lumps or foreign growths, cysts, tumors) 5.8% of vet visits Up to $13,692
Cancer 5% of vet visits Up to $21,644
Torn ligament (called CCL for dogs, but is the same as an ACL for humans) 4.8% of vet visits Up to $12,972
UTI 4.8% of vet visits Up to $9,115
Heart conditions 4.5% of vet visits Up to $18,027

According to MarketWatch, 45% of pet owners in 2023 have 2 vet visits per year, and nearly 40% end up paying with a credit card because they don’t have pet insurance.

What does pet insurance not cover?

There are a few things that are generally not covered by pet insurance, including:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Grooming
  • Supplements
  • Breeding costs

FAQs

Can I get pet insurance before taking my dog to the vet?

Yes, you can get insurance at any time for your dog. But let’s say your dog is showing symptoms right now, and you have an appointment next week. In that case, you can still take out a policy before the appointment, but you may not be able to use your coverage.

Can I get pet insurance after visiting the vet?

Yes, however, don’t expect it to cover the most recent visit. According to NAPHIA, when you buy a new pet insurance policy, there is a “waiting period,” which can range from 10 to 30 days. This means coverage won’t go into effect until after that waiting period, and you can only submit claims for accidents/injuries that take place after the date your policy starts.

Is my pet insurance accepted everywhere?

Yes, pet insurance is generally accepted by all licensed veterinarians. There are no ‘in networks’ for pet insurance like there are for human health insurance, which means you can pick just about any legitimate veterinarian and submit claims after your appointments for qualifying illnesses and accidents.

Sources

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