Pet Insurance That Pays the Vet Directly

Pet insurance is usually based on a reimbursement model, which means you pay the vet bills upfront and then file a claim to get a portion of your money back. However, if you can’t afford to make those payments upfront, or if you simply find it inconvenient, consider pet insurance that pays the vet directly.

Takeaways:

  1. Pet insurance plans that operate on a reimbursement basis require you to pay the vet bill upfront and wait to be paid back.
  2. Direct payment options pay the vet directly, which can be more convenient and prevent you from owing a large vet bill upfront.
  3. Some vets don’t accept direct payment. If they do, it can require you to go through a few steps upfront to set it up.
  4. Trupanion, Healthy Paws, Pets Best, Petplan, and Companion Protect are strong options for pet insurance that pays the vet directly.

Direct Payment vs. Reimbursement 

Most pet insurance companies work on a reimbursement basis. This means that you’ll foot the bill at the time of service, then file a claim with your insurance company afterwards and wait to get a portion of the bill back (depending on your reimbursement level).

While common, the reimbursement process is risky for many pet owners. Given that vet bills can often run you thousands of dollars, paying the entire bill upfront could be a one-way-ticket to financial ruin. Even though you know you’ll be reimbursed later, draining your savings or maxing out a credit card in the moment isn’t ideal.

Direct payments to your vet prevent you from having to pay the bill upfront, which can save you from tough financial situations. Instead, you pay a copay or portion of the bill at the time of the visit and vets submit the bill to the insurance company.

ReimbursementDirect Payment
Pay the entire vet bill upfront, then file a claim with the insurance company for reimbursement.Pay only the portion of the vet bill you owe at the time of service.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Direct Payment

Direct payment can simplify the process of paying vet bills, making seeking care for your pet more convenient and less stressful. However, there are a few downsides to be aware of:

  • Some vets don’t accept direct payment. Just because you purchase a policy with direct payment doesn’t mean your vet will accept it.
  • Some pet insurance companies require vets to be approved for direct payment. Pet insurance providers, like Petplan, require vets to be approved before they’re eligible to submit claims for direct payment. This can cause a bit more legwork on your end.
  • Some pet insurance companies only offer direct payment at in-network providers. If you need to seek emergency medical care and aren’t near your in-network provider, you may have to use an out-of-network provider and wait for reimbursement.
AdvantagesDisadvantages
It can simplify the process of paying for vet bills.Not all vets accept direct payment.
You don’t have to wait for reimbursement.Some pet insurance companies require vets to be approved before they’re eligible to receive direct payment.
You won’t have to pay the entire vet bill upfront.You may be required to complete a decent bit of paperwork to set up direct payment.
It can prevent you from having to drain your savings or max out a credit card to seek care for your pet.Some pet insurance companies only offer direct payment at in-network providers.

Pet Insurance Companies That Pay the Vet Directly

Direct payment is offered by a select number of pet insurance providers. The following are our top recommendations:

Trupanion

Trupanion is a solid pet insurance option, but it’s a bit more restrictive than its competitors. To accept Trupanion direct payments, vets must be in Trupanion’s system, which often requires them to use Trupanion software. Depending on your area and the size of the vet office, they may or may not use it.

Trupanion’s direct payment process is as follows:

  • Your vet submits the claim to Trupanion at the time of service.
  • You pay your portion of the bill upfront.
  • Trupanion pays your vet directly within a few seconds of the claim’s submission.

If your vet isn’t in Trupanion’s system, you can still use the insurance, but you’d need to go through the traditional reimbursement process.

Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws only offers direct payments to customers that can’t afford to pay the entire vet bill upfront. If you can afford the vet bills and simply want a more convenient payment option, Healthy Paws direct payment won’t be an option for you.

If you qualify, the Healthy Pays direct payment process would look like this:

  • Your vet has to agree to receive direct payment from Healthy Paws.
  • If they agree, you call Healthy Pays to initiate the payment.

While the phone call adds an extra step, there are a few benefits of using Healthy Paws that make up for it. The insurance can be used at any vet in any network, which means you don’t have to worry about finding an in-network provider when you need urgent care. Healthy Paws also doesn’t require a lengthy claim form and offers a user-friendly mobile app to simplify the process.

Pets Best

Pets Best is a good option when it comes to direct payment offerings as it’s available for all plans the company offers. With any Pets Best plan, all you need to do to get direct payments is:

  • Ask your vet to receive direct payment.
  • If they agree, complete the Pets Best release form and get your vet to sign it.
  • Submit the form with your claim for it to be processed.

Typically, it takes around 5 days for claims to be processed and paid out from the time they’re received. The money is then disbursed directly to your vet.

Petplan

Petplan has a lengthier upfront process and is only available on a case-by-case basis, but it’s still a solid option. With Petplan, you’d need to:

  • Ask your vet to accept direct payment.
  • If they agree, you must get approval in writing from both you and your vet. This approval must be written on formal letterhead and include their office name and address.
  • Submit the letter for approval from Petplan.

If approved, you’d owe Petplan the applicable copay and deductible amounts at the time of service. Then, they’d cover the remaining balance and send it straight to your vet.

Companion Protect

Companion Protect offers direct payment but only for in-network vets, which is applied automatically.

If you use an out-of-network provider, you’ll be subject to the traditional reimbursement process. Plus, you’ll get a lower reimbursement rate and owe a higher deductible amount and copay. So, with Companion Protect, it makes sense to stay in-network whenever possible.

That said, they do offer more competitive premiums that don’t increase as your pet ages, which might make it worth it.

Things to remember

Look Carefully When Searching for Insurance Companies

Finding a pet insurance company that offers direct payment can make the process of paying for pet care much easier. However, be careful not to overlook other important elements of the policy, such as:

Level of Coverage

Each insurance policy will cover a different range of expenses. Make sure the policy you purchase covers treatment for any conditions your pet’s breed may be more prone to.

Reimbursement Level 

Each plan offers a unique reimbursement level. While direct payment is convenient, it might be worth sacrificing for a higher reimbursement level.

Acceptance at Vets Near You

Before purchasing a policy, make sure your vet accepts direct payment. You can find this information by either calling your vet directly or searching the insurance company’s website.

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Grace Lemire

Grace is a lover of pups and personal finance. She’s passionate about helping people navigate the financial side of life decisions — from budgeting for a furry friend to making decisions about pet insurance.