This is one of the most common questions asked by pet parents or anyone thinking of getting pet insurance for their beloved four-legged friend.
The answer to this question is, mostly no. The majority of pet insurance plans work the same – you pay for covered vet bills up-front and then wait for your insurance company to reimburse you. This whole process can take days or weeks, and occasionally months.
- You take your pet to the vet
- The vet treats your pet
- The vet bills you for the treatment
- You pay the bill out of your own pocket
- You make a claim
- If your claim is covered, you’re reimbursed what you paid, minus any deductible or copay
Why is it a problem having to pay vet bills up-front?
Vet bills are commonly in the hundreds of dollars and often in the thousands. That’s quite a chunk for anyone to pay up-front, especially when 59% of Americans say they’d struggle to pay an unexpected bill of $500.
For many people, it means pulling out money from your savings or putting the vet bill on a potentially expensive high-interest credit card. But the sad reality is thousands of dogs and cats don’t get treated, because the pet parents simply don’t have the money to pay the bill up-front.
Why doesn’t most pet insurance pay the vet direct?
It’s a good question. Pet insurance has always tended to follow the ‘reimbursement model’: that means you have to find the money out of your own pocket to pay the vet bill, before claiming the money back from your insurer less your out-of-pocket expenses.
Is there any pet insurance that doesn’t require you to pay the vet bill up-front?
Paw Protect allows you to pay vet bills* with Paytient†. If approved, Paytient provides a virtual Visa® card with a $2,000 interest-free line of credit to pay for vet bills* up-front. It works in much the same way as Apple Pay: you just tap your phone on the vet’s card machine and you’re good to go.
Vets don’t need any extra software for this to work. If your vet already accepts Visa®, they’ll accept the Paytient card*.
Trupanion has the capability to pay some vets direct. According to Trupanion’s official website, “A Trupanion policy will work in every hospital across North America, so even if direct pay is not yet available at your regular hospital, you can still get the same great coverage.” Their website lists by State which veterinary practices and animal hospitals in the US can accept direct pay from Trupanion: as of 03/21/2023, we counted 5,217. Also as of 03/21/2023, we estimate that there are 28,000 total veterinary practices in the US.††
Healthy Paws and Pets Best are two other insurers who say they can pay the vet direct. With Healthy Paws, you have to call them while you’re at the vet and get them to talk the vet to access medical records and then process the claim. With Pets Best, you need to send them a signed veterinarian reimbursement release form, and once the claim has been processed the reimbursement amount can be sent to your vet.
†† – Based on data from trupanion.com and approximate number of veterinary practices in the US according to worldanimalfoundation.org
Pet insurance without paying vet bills* up-front†
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