Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
Most pet insurance companies require you to pay your vet bills upfront, submit a claim and then get reimbursed if the expenses are covered by your policy.
Unexpected vet bills can cost thousands of dollars, which can be difficult to pay out of pocket. And you may end up with credit card debt to pay for it. Another solution is pet insurance that pays the vet directly.
Are There Any Pet Insurance Companies That Pay the Vet Directly?
Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best, can pay a vet directly. It’s an attractive option for pet owners who do not want to pay upfront for expensive veterinary bills for problems like broken bones, torn ligaments or serious illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes.
Many pet insurance companies don’t offer direct payments to a veterinarian and are reimbursement-based, meaning you pay upfront for your pet’s veterinary expenses and submit a claim to your insurer. You’ll get a reimbursement payment if the expense is covered by your policy.
If direct vet pay is important to you, make sure it’s available with the pet insurance companies you’re considering.
Featured Partner Offer
Maximum annual coverage
70%, 80%, 90%
$50, $100, $200, $250, $500, $1,000
Via PetInsurer.com's Secure Website
How Does Direct Vet Pay Work?
Direct vet pay means the pet insurance company pays your vet directly for problems that are covered by your pet insurance policy. How and when the payments are made vary depending on the pet insurance company.
- If you have Trupanion pet insurance and your vet has Trupanion’s software, your pet’s vet bills will be paid at checkout.
- Pets Best doesn’t pay your vet at checkout. Instead, you’ll submit a claim, along with your vet’s signed reimbursement release form, and your vet will be sent payment if the claim is approved.
Even with direct vet pay, you’re still responsible for any cost-sharing, such as your deductible and copayment. The deductible is the amount you have to pay in a year for vet bills before your pet insurance policy begins to pay its share. A copayment is the percentage of the claim that you pay.
For example, let’s say you have a vet bill of $2,000, a $500 deductible and an 80% reimbursement level:
- You pay $500 toward vet bills, plus your portion of the bill based on the reimbursement amount, which is $300 (20% of $1,500).
- The pet insurer will pay the vet the remaining $1,200.
Pet insurance policies also sometimes have annual coverage limits, such as $5,000 or $10,000. The policy won’t cover amounts above the coverage limit unless you have unlimited annual coverage.
Benefits of Pet Insurance That Pays the Vet Directly
Pet insurance that pays the vet directly can streamline the claims process. Here are some of the benefits:
- You won’t have to pay the entire vet bill upfront. Vet visit costs for problems like cancer, swallowed objects, diabetes, broken bones and heart murmurs can all cost thousands of dollars. If these types of problems are covered by your policy, direct vet pay will pay the vet bill, minus your deductible and copayment.
- You won’t have to wait for reimbursement. If your insurer pays the vet directly, you won’t have to wait for a reimbursement check in order to replenish your savings account or pay your credit card bill.
- Quick payment. Trupanion pays your vet at checkout (if your vet has Trupanion’s software). That means your claim can be approved and paid before you leave the vet’s office.
Which Pet Insurance Companies Offer Direct Vet Pay?
Geico pet insurance is partnered with both Embrace and Trupanion. When you visit Geico’s website and click for a pet insurance quote, you’ll be directed to either Embrace or Trupanion’s website. Trupanion offers direct vet pay, but Embrace pet insurance does not.
If you buy Geico pet insurance through Trupanion, you’ll be able to take advantage of direct vet pay if the veterinarian has Trupanion’s software. Trupanion doesn’t have a pet insurance deductible but you will be responsible for the copay.
Healthy Paws pet insurance offers direct vet pay, but you’re required to contact Healthy Paws in advance of your pet’s treatment. If your pet’s treatment is covered and the veterinarian is willing to accept direct payment, Healthy Paws’ claims team will coordinate payment with the veterinarian.
Pets Best pet insurance offers direct vet pay for all pet insurance plans. Here’s how it works:
- Your vet must download a veterinarian release form and sign it.
- You must submit a claim online, through Pets Best’s mobile app, fax or email. You must include a copy of the signed veterinarian release form. If you submit your claim online or through the app, you can upload a copy of the form.
- Your claim will be processed. If your vet expenses are covered by your policy, Pets Best will send reimbursement directly to the vet.
Progressive pet insurance is partnered with Pets Best and offers direct vet pay for all pet insurance plans. The steps to use direct vet pay will be the same as those listed above for Pets Best.
State Farm pet insurance is through Trupanion, which means you’ll be able to take advantage of direct vet pay if the vet has Trupanion’s software.
Trupanion pet insurance offers direct vet pay if the veterinarian has Trupanion’s software. If your pet’s vet expenses are covered by your policy, Trupanion’s system will pay the vet when you checkout. Trupanion does not have a pet insurance deductible, but you will be responsible for your copay.
What To Look Out for When It Comes to Pet Insurance and Direct Payments to the Veterinarian
While few pet insurance companies offer to pay a vet directly, that doesn’t mean the veterinarian is obligated to accept direct payment from the insurer. Your vet may prefer that you pay your bills upfront and submit a claim to your insurer.
- Trupanion’s direct vet pay requires the vet to have its software. If they don’t, you won’t be able to take advantage of direct vet pay.
- Pets Best requires the veterinarian to sign a release form, which is then submitted for claims approval. That means your vet will have to wait for payment, which they may not be willing to do.
If you’re considering pet insurance that pays the vet directly, it’s a good idea to speak with your veterinarian beforehand to find out if they’ll accept direct payment.
Alternatives to Direct Vet Pay for a Pet’s Veterinarian Bills
Paw Protect pet insurance offers a virtual Visa card with a $2,000 line of credit that you can use to pay bills from a veterinarian or emergency vet clinic. The credit line is stored on your phone and there is no credit check. You use your claim payment to repay the line of credit. This way you don’t have to fork over any money at the vet visit.
If you’re unable to pay the deductible and copay immediately, you can do so interest-free over a period of 12 months.
If you don’t have pet insurance, ask your vet’s office if they have a payment plan.
Crowdfunding could be an option. You may be able to raise money through crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter or Waggle, a crowdfunding site dedicated to paying vet bills.
While it’s not optimal, you could seek a personal loan to pay for a large vet bill. Personal loan rates can range anywhere from 4% to 36%.
Find The Best Pet Insurance Companies Of 2023
Pet Insurance That Pays the Vet Directly FAQ
Is pet insurance that pays the vet directly more expensive?
Pet insurance that pays the vet directly isn’t necessarily more expensive compared to other pet insurance options. For example, Pets Best offers direct vet pay and has competitive rates compared to other insurers in our analysis of pet insurance costs.
Can you pay a vet bill in installments?
Your veterinarian may offer payment plans. Some veterinarian offices offer plans through a financing provider, letting you stretch out payments. But be aware of interest charges.
Do vets charge more if you have pet insurance?
Using pet insurance does not result in higher veterinary bills. Pet insurance does not have “in network” providers like human health insurance. You can use any licensed veterinarian, specialist or emergency animal hospital.
That’s because pet insurance is reimbursement-based, meaning you’ll pay upfront the bill and submit an insurance claim. Some pet insurance companies, like Pets Best and Trupanion, will pay your vet directly.