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The majority of pet insurance companies are willing to pay your vet directly—however not all vets are willing to take payment from insurance. By using direct-to-vet payments a pet owner only pays the excess out of pocket, which is certainly preferably for any large vet bills. Find out which pet insurance companies will pay direct and learn about vets' willingness to accept direct payments.
Pet Insurance That Pays Vet Directly
Most pet insurance companies are willing to pay your vet directly, which means your vet claims for money directly from the insurer. If your vet agrees to accept a direct payment from your insurance company, then you only need to pay your excess to the vet. Setting up a direct payment can be extremely beneficial for a pet owner, especially when vet fees run into the hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Pet insurance can pay out in one of two ways:
- Direct Payment: insurance pays the vet directly, or
- Indirect Payment: insurance reimburses the pet owner for vet bills they've already paid
For indirect claims, you would need to first pay your vet for your pet’s treatment, then claim the money back from your pet insurance company. Depending on the size of the vet fees, indirect payments can certainly be a burden for some pet owners. We've checked the terms for over a dozen popular UK pet insurance companies and found the following are willing to pay the vet directly:
Do all Vets Accept Pet Insurance?
While most pet insurance companies are willing to pay a vet direct, not all vets will accept insurance payments. Some vets will only accept payment from a pet owner at the time of treatment. Or vets may accept direct payment from some insurance providers, but not others. Each veterinary practice will have their own policy on handling insurance claims. This is one of the important questions to ask a veterinary practice before you register your dog with them.
Whether or not your vet accepts your pet insurance may depend on a number of factors, such as their previous experience with your insurance company or the size of the vet practice. For instance, small animal hospitals and referral centres are more likely to accept payment direct from an insurance company than a local vet. Visits to a hospital or referral centre are likely to cost a lot (e.g., to pay for diagnostic imagery such as MRIs, surgery, etc.), so it's a particularly helpful when these institutions accept direct payments.
A vet is more likely to accept direct payments from larger insurers such as PetPlan or Animal Friends. For example, over a third of UK vets have signed up to Animal Friends' Pawtal payment system, which allows vets to access details of cover and pre-authorisation for treatment within an hour and will pay a vet the same working day (for successful claims submitted before 5 pm). To find out if your vet will accept payment from your insurance company, contact the vet directly.
Vets are more likely to accept direct payment from an insurance company if you plan ahead and get pre-authorization of payment. By getting pre-authorization, the insurance company essentially confirms you have appropriate cover and agrees to payment, so the vet doesn't need to worry about non-payment.
If you just show up for an appointment and ask your vet about direct payments when it comes time to settle the bill, you're less likely to have your request accepted. It will depend on your vet and their previous experience with your insurance company, but enquiring well ahead of time should increase the odds your vet will agree to a direct payment.
Finally, be aware that your vet may impose an administration fee of £10 to £20 to handle any pre-authorization paperwork and/or dealing with the insurance company on your behalf. This administration fee will not be covered by your insurance, but is the responsibility of the pet owner.