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Pet Insurance with Direct Vet Payments

How to set up direct vet payments with pet insurance

Alicia Hempsted
Written by  Alicia Hempsted
10 min read
Updated: 11 Apr 2024

Sometimes you can use your pet insurance to pay your vet directly so you don't have to pay the bill up front, which can save you time and money when getting your pet treated. Find out the details of setting up this payment method in this guide

How do I use my pet insurance to pay vet bills?

There are two main ways for a pet insurance policy to pay out to help you cover vet bills:

Reimbursement payments

You pay the vet bills in full. Afterwards, you make a claim on your pet insurance policy and your insurer reimburses you. Your excess and co-payment amount will be deducted from your payout and cover limits will be applied.

Direct payments

After a procedure, you make a claim on your pet insurance policy and select the necessary options to pay your vet directly. The insurer will pay their share of the bill directly, minus your excess, co-payment, and other cover limits. You then pay your vet the remaining amount.

How do pet insurance reimbursement payments work?

The reimbursement method of payment is usually the default when it comes to pet insurance.

  • Step one: Take your pet to your chosen vet to receive treatment

  • Step two: After the procedure, pay the vet bill in full. This can be paid in one go or in instalments depending on the arrangement you have with your vet

  • Step three: After you have paid the bill or set up your payment plan, make a claim with your insurer. You can find more information about your provider’s claims process in your policy documents.

  • Step four: Once your claim has been processed, your insurer will pay out to reimburse you for the amount you are owed based on your insurance policy. From the vet bill amount, they deduct your excess and agreed co-payment amount and apply your cover limits, such as maximum benefit limits or limits for pre-existing conditions.

What should I do if I can’t cover the full vet bill?

Large vet bills are the most common motivation for setting up direct payments between your insurer and vet as it saves you from needing to pay the full bill amount up front.

If your vet won’t accept a direct payment from your insurer, you can speak to them about setting up a payment plan. This is a payment method that some vets offer either directly or through a partnership with a third-party which allows you to break up your bill into smaller payments. If this is something you would like to set up, you should speak to your vet about it before bringing your pet in for treatment.

If your vet doesn’t allow payment in instalments, you may need to consider a loan to cover your bill. While this isn’t an ideal solution, the right loan would at least allow you to break up the amount into monthly payments, making it easier to manage.

If you’re generally struggling to manage the cost of vet bills or are facing financial difficulty, you may find some useful information in our article ‘Financial Support for Pet Owners’.

How to set up your pet insurance to pay vets directly

To set up direct payments with your vet and insurance provider, the first thing to do is to check that your pet insurance provider offers direct payments. Most pet insurance providers do, but it’s worthwhile to check.

After you’ve confirmed that direct payments are an option, your next step is to talk to your chosen vet. If they allow direct payments from insurers, they will probably ask you for details about you and your insurance to help them decide whether they will accept this payment method from you.

Getting pre-authorisation for your pet insurance claim

In some cases, your vet may require a claim to be pre-authorised before they accept this payment method. This means that you will need to contact your insurance provider before your pet is treated by your vet to confirm that your insurer will cover the cost.

Getting pre-authorisation for your claim is an added reassurance for your vet that the bill will be paid, which may make them more willing to accept direct payments.

Pre-authorisation also has its benefits for policyholders because it gives you a clear idea of exactly how much your insurance will cover and how much you will need to pay yourself.

Do all vets accept direct payments from insurers?

Not all vets accept direct payments from insurers, and they aren’t obligated to. Most prefer that you cover the bill in full up front, and there are fair reasons why your vet might not accept this payment method.

It could be the case that they don’t have enough experience with your chosen pet insurance provider, so they can’t say how reliable the insurer is or how likely they are to pay on time. They might also have a history of negative experiences with direct payments from insurers and would prefer not to take the risk.

The pros and cons of direct payments to your vet

While using your insurance to pay your vet directly has its benefits it also has a few drawbacks as well. Before jumping the gun to set up this payment method with your vet, you should consider the pros and cons:

The pros of direct payments

  • When your insurance provider pays your vet directly, you will only have to pay the amount that you owe. The other option requires you to pay for the whole vet bill first and have your insurance reimburse you, which isn’t ideal if you have a large bill to deal with.

  • There is less admin for you to deal with when your pet insurer pays your vet. This is because your vet will be making a claim on your behalf and providing the details of your pet’s treatment, so you don’t have to save receipts and prescriptions to give to your insurer.

The cons of direct payments

  • Some vets will impose an additional administration when you choose this payment method. This fee covers the handling of paperwork and working with your insurance provider on your behalf.

  • You can risk your relationship with your vet if your insurer doesn't pay on time. Most insurance providers process claims within one to two weeks, but this timeframe isn’t a guarantee. A lack of on-time payment can upset your vet and they may reject direct payments from your insurer in future.

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