Nearly all vets accept pet insurance, but not as you might think. Rather than use your pet insurance to pay at the vet, pet insurance works as a reimbursement. After your pet is seen at a licensed veterinarian clinic, you pay the bill directly. Then you’ll file a claim with your insurer to get reimbursed for covered costs. Although some vets take direct pay, most do not.

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Can You Use Your Pet Insurance at Any Licensed Vet Clinic?

Yes, you can use your pet insurance at any licensed vet clinic. However, usually, you’ll pay the bill in full initially and then request reimbursement from your pet insurance carrier. When your dog or cat goes to the vet, and you've decided to get pet insurance, you usually have two options to pay, either direct pay or reimbursement.


How Direct Vet Pay Works

Direct pay is software a veterinarian would use to submit your claim directly to your pet insurer, so you only have to pay your portion of your pet’s expenses at checkout. Direct vet pay is an option some pet insurance companies offer, like Pets Best and Trupanion. While it may be an option through the insurer, a vet rarely accepts direct pay.

The payment process for direct vet pay has a few quick steps.


Take your pet to a licensed veterinarian

When taking your pet to the vet, you should ensure they have direct vet pay software. The carrier may not approve your pet insurance claim if they aren’t licensed. Your pet insurance claim can’t be paid through direct pay without the software.


Checkout at the vet’s office

Your vet’s office will submit the invoice through the direct pay software during checkout. The software will tell the vet how much to charge for the total bill.


Pay your portion of your pet’s vet bill

Pay your portion in full. The insurance company will pay the veterinarian for the rest of the invoice.

How Vet Bill Reimbursement Works

The most common method to pay pet expenses at the vet with pet insurance is bill reimbursement. At checkout, you’ll receive the total invoice. You pay the bill in full and then submit a claim to your pet insurance company. The company will reimburse you for covered expenses based on your plan details.

Although simple, the steps to take for vet bill reimbursement can take weeks and vary by carrier. The basic steps are described below.


Take your pet to a licensed veterinarian

To be eligible for reimbursement under your pet insurance plan, your pet will need to be seen by any licensed veterinarian. Your claim can be denied if the vet who treats your pet is not licensed in the United States.


Pay in full at checkout

When it’s time to checkout, you’ll pay the full cost of the invoice for your pet’s expenses.


Submit a claim for reimbursement

After you get your receipt and copy of the invoice, you’ll submit a claim for reimbursement. This process can differ by the insurance company. For instance, you can simply take a picture of the invoice and upload it without filling out any forms using the Healthy Paws mobile app. Reimbursement can take two weeks or more with a paper check and a week or less with direct deposit.

Where to Purchase Pet Insurance

Not all pet insurance companies are equal, and not all plans cost the same amount, so you may consider getting quotes from the best pet insurers to compare. According to our study, Spot is the best overall company to purchase pet insurance. Depending on your coverage needs, the cheapest pet insurance companies may be the right fit for your situation.

Not sure which carrier is the best choice? Checking out pet insurance reviews can help you decide.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most common questions on the topic of vets accepting pet insurance.

Do all vets take pet insurance?
Where can I buy pet insurance?

About Mandy Sleight

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Mandy Sleight is a licensed property, casualty, life and health insurance agent with 20 years of experience in the industry. She has worked for major insurance companies like State Farm and Nationwide, and most recently as the Operations Coordinator for a startup employee benefits company.

Sleight holds a business administration and management degree from the University of Baltimore and a master's in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She uses her vast knowledge of insurance and personal finance to create easy-to-understand and engaging content to help readers make smarter choices with their budgets and finances.