Does Pet Insurance Cover Emergency Visits?


  • Most pet insurance plans cover the costs of any procedures, diagnostics, hospitalization, and medications related to an emergency vet visit
  • If the emergency visit takes place during the initial waiting period, the cost will not be covered by insurance
  • Some policies have annual or lifetime coverage limits; any costs incurred after these limits have been reached may not be covered·       If the emergency vet visit is due to a pre-existing condition, it may not be covered by pet insurance

Does pet insurance cover emergency visits?

Most pet insurance plans help owners cover the cost of emergency treatment for injuries and illnesses. However, coverage can vary, so it’s important to understand the limits of your plan before an emergency occurs. Some basic plans will only cover injury, such as a broken leg, but not illness, such as heart failure.

Even though pet insurance is designed to make unexpected vet costs easier to manage, most policies require the owner to pay for treatment upfront. It’s only once the claim has been submitted that the insurance company will reimburse the owner for any costs covered by their plan.

Additionally, your coverage will likely have a deductible that you will need to pay out of pocket before your plan will cover anything.

It’s impossible to predict if your pet may someday need emergency vet care, but it IS possible to plan for it. Always check that your insurance policy has suitable coverage for what you need – some plans are accident only, which will cover incidents such as poisonings or broken limbs, but won’t cover any illness such as cancer or respiratory infections. None of us want to imagine our pet in an acute medical situation, but trips to an emergency vet are more common than you might think – and expensive!

Dr. Lizzie Youens, Veterinary Surgeon

Are emergency vet visits covered by basic pet insurance policies?

Most basic pet insurance policies will cover emergency vet visits, but the specific dollar amount covered will depend on the policy itself. However, some policies cover accidental injuries only, while others will cover both injuries and illnesses.

If you’re worried about any gaps in coverage, it may be worth buying a more comprehensive pet insurance policy. Comprehensive plans typically cover more but will come with a higher monthly premium.

Does my pet insurance policy have a limit on the number of emergency vet visits?

Pet insurance policies don’t typically limit the number of emergency vet visits, but they do often have an annual coverage limit. This limit is the maximum amount that the policy will reimburse you over a 12-month period.

However, there are a few companies that offer unlimited plans, which do not have that annual coverage limit. Bear in mind that unlimited plans typically have a higher monthly premium than those with an annual limit.

Regardless of the annual limit, some companies also have a lifetime payout limit. This limit includes all costs covered during the lifetime of your pet.

Will my pet insurance policy cover the full cost of an emergency vet visit?

As previously stated, the cost of an emergency vet visit covered by an insurance plan will vary and some plans may cover more than others. Your policy will come with a reimbursement level – this is the percentage of the claim that the insurance company will pay you back, after your deductible. Pet insurance also typically comes with limits on the maximum amount the policy will pay for each claim.

If you are past the waiting period set by the policy and have not surpassed any coverage limits, it’s likely that the emergency visit will be covered by insurance.

Are there any exclusions or conditions that would prevent my pet insurance policy from covering an emergency vet visit?

Pre-existing conditions

If your pet’s visit to the emergency clinic is due to a pre-existing or hereditary condition, the visit may not be covered by your insurance plan. For example, if your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia and then you decide to buy pet insurance, your dog’s future treatment for hip dysplasia and any related problems may not be covered.

However, if you buy pet insurance and your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia after your policy’s waiting period, any related treatment will likely be covered. This is why it’s so important to purchase pet insurance while your pet is young and healthy.

Annual and per-condition limits

If your pet has had previous emergency care, you should keep track of what your insurance company has already covered and any coverage limits set by the policy. Once that limit has been reached, any additional emergency visits may not be covered.

Many pet insurance plans will have an annual limit on what they will pay out, while other policies have per-condition limits. This means they have set a limit on what they will pay out for a particular condition. 

Waiting periods

Your vet visit will only be covered if the waiting period on your plan has elapsed. Almost every pet insurance policy has a waiting period for accidents from 2 days to 2 weeks. Some have a waiting period of up to six months or more before serious events such as cruciate ligament injuries are covered.

Will my pet insurance policy cover the cost of hospitalization if my pet needs to stay overnight?

If your pet needs to be hospitalized overnight after an emergency injury or illness, the stay should be covered by insurance. However, it’s important to check the details of the policy’s coverage, as not all policies will cover hospitalization.

Will my pet insurance policy cover the cost of any treatments or procedures that may be needed during an emergency vet visit?

With a basic pet insurance policy, any costs related to an emergency vet visit should be covered, but coverage will vary from company to company. Most policies will cover any procedures, prescription medications, and diagnostic testing related to the illness or injury.

However, some policies may specify which treatments or procedures are covered and many companies provide customers with a list. Experimental treatments or procedures, for example, are unlikely to be covered by your insurance policy.

Most pet insurance policies also don’t cover routine or preventive care not related to the emergency injury or illness. However, wellness and preventive care plans are sometimes offered at an additional monthly cost.

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Tara Schwarz

Tarah Schwartz is a seasoned freelance writer in the lifestyle and pet care niches. She has published a number of books and has contributed to numerous blogs and websites. Prior to her work as a writer, Tarah spent over a decade working in the pet care industry as a veterinary technician and all-breed pet groomer. When she’s not writing, Tarah enjoys hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and traveling. Tarah is also active in the dog sport community, competing with her three dogs: Laszlo the Puli, Jurgen the Pumi, and Finn the Poodle Mix.