Pet insurance doesn’t typically pay for up-front costs. Most pet insurance companies work by having you submit a claim when your pet receives a covered service, and then they reimburse you for the amount that is covered in the policy. The current exception to this is Trupanion, who can pay participating hospitals directly at the time of care.
It is important to note that you are still able to utilize alternative forms of payment while you await reimbursement from your insurance company. Using standard credit cards, Care Credit, ScratchPay, or other options in the meantime are all viable ways to pay for care upfront. You will then have the peace of mind that you’re going to be able to pay a significant portion of it off quickly once you get your reimbursement.
The younger your pet is when you apply for coverage, the better your premium and coverage will be. When signing up for pet insurance, the company will take into account your pet’s age, breed, and any pre-existing conditions. Generally speaking, anything in your pet’s medical history prior to signing up can be considered a pre-existing condition and the insurance company will likely not cover it under the policy. Therefore, the longer you wait to sign up, the more that they can get out of covering, and the older your pet is, the more they increase the premiums you are paying. This is why it’s a great idea to sign up for coverage when you have a new puppy or kitten in order to receive maximum benefits from your policy.
With human health insurance, you often have to worry about if the provider you chose is in your network. Because pet insurance operates on a reimbursement model, you don’t have to worry about networks and choosing a practice that will allow you to use your policy. Any veterinary office can fill out any necessary forms that you provide to assist you in getting your services reimbursed by the insurance company. The only exception would be if you choose to sign up with Trupanion and wish to utilize the Trupanion Express direct payments to the veterinarian. If you do, you will want to ask your vet office if they are a participating provider (because it requires a special setup). If they aren’t you can still use your Trupanion policy – you would just need to follow the standard pay up front and get reimbursed model.
If you decide that pet insurance is not for you and your pet at this time, there are still things that you can do to try to prepare for unexpected expenses.
- You can opt into wellness plans provided by your veterinarian. In addition to spreading out the cost of wellness veterinary care that your pet needs, they often provide discounts on services not included in the plan (see your vet’s specific offerings for details, or click here to see our current plans).
- You can start a savings account specifically for veterinary care and have automatic deposits put into it so that you’re saving without even noticing.
- You can be prepared to open and use alternative payment options such as Care Credit, ScratchPay, or other similar offerings.