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Best Pet Insurance that Pays the Vet Directly in 2024

Unlimited claims
No upper age limit
No credit checks
Multiple pet discounts

Compare Top Pet Insurance Plans

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  • When you take your animal to the vet, typically the owner must pay the vet bill and wait to be reimbursed. This can lead to financial strain if you are met with unexpectedly high vet bills.
  • There are 5 main pet insurance companies that can pay the vet directly for you:
    Healthy Paws, Pets Best, Paw Protect, CarePlus by Chewy, and Trupanion. (skip ahead to view these plans).
  • Each pet insurer has a different method for paying the vet’s office on your behalf. Some are quite complicated, while others, like Paw Protect, are super easy.
  • The good news is all of the providers that offer direct-pay services are great companies to go with. Therefore, the decision comes down to you and your needs.
  • Our top choice for vet direct-pay insurance is Paw Protect, as it’s the easiest to use and offers great coverage at an affordable price.
  • We recommend using a comparison tool to search for insurance that pays the vet directly as you can easily compare multiple providers and policies at once.

If you have been to the vet’s office and found it difficult to pay out-of-pocket for the vet’s services, you are not alone. With inflation on rise and prices increasing left and right, more households are finding their budgets stretched thin.

The good news is that pet insurance offers a solution to paying out-of-pocket for vet bills. There are many affordable plans that can end up saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the lifespan of your pet.

A few providers are on the forefront and offer a solution to paying up front and waiting to be reimbursed; they can pay the vet’s office directly on your behalf.

In this guide we will explain all you need to know about how this option works, and which providers offer this service.

We’ll cover:

  • What direct-pay pet insurance is
  • How it works
  • The benefits of direct-pay pet insurance
  • The companies that offer it
  • Other resources that can help you pay your vet bills

Let’s start with our picks for the best direct-pay pet insurance providers.

Our picks for the best pet insurance plans that pay the vet directly

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Our Top Pick

Paw Protect

5.0
GET A QUOTE via Petinsurer.com's secure website
Maximum annual coverage
$5,000 - Unlimited
Reimbursement choices
70%, 80%, 90%
Deductible choices
$100, $250, $500
Why We Like It

Editor's take

Paw Protect is the best choice if you are looking for pet insurance that pays vets directly and won’t leave you with out-of-pocket expenses. It is the only pet insurance provider that offers customers a $2,000 interest-free line of credit you use to pay the vet. Most other providers require you to pay upfront yourself and be reimbursed later after submitting a claim.

Paw Protect offers an accident & illness plan as well as an optional Wellness add-on. Like some other providers, it comes with 24/7 telemedicine coverage which allows you to speak to a vet in case you have an emergency and aren’t sure whether to take your animal in for a visit. It also offers considerable discounts if you have multiple pets (10% off) or are a military member (5% off).

Paw Protect accident and illness plan has a two-day waiting period for accidents and a 14-day waiting period for illnesses. There is a six-month waiting period for canine orthopedic conditions, which can be reduced to 14 days if you complete an orthopedic exam and waiver process.

PROS

  • Chronic Conditions
  • Prescription Medication
  • Pays Vet Directly

CONS

  • Boarding

Best for Larger Claims

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

4.8
GET A QUOTE via Petinsurer.com's secure website
Maximum annual coverage
Unlimited
Reimbursement choices
50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%
Deductible choices
$50, $100, $250, $500, $750, $1,000
Why We Like It

Editor's take

Healthy Paws does offer direct vet payment, but it’s not as straightforward as Paw Protect’s line of credit. Healthy Paws plans operate like traditional pet insurance, where you pay the vet and submit your claim to be reimbursed. To have them pay the vet directly, you must contact them prior to the vet appointment to receive approval. Healthy Paws is a great option if you anticipate having claims higher than $2,000.

Being approved for direct payment does not guarantee your claim will be covered, and you could end up being responsible for the cost of the procedure. It’s important to review your policy details ahead of time and consult Healthy Paws directly if you have questions regarding your coverage.

Healthy Paws offers a wide range of coverage options and deductibles, which makes it easy to customize your policy to fit your needs and budget. They offer only an accident & illness plan with unlimited coverage but don’t offer any wellness options. This company is especially affordable for cat parents, with some plan options only costing around $10 a month!

With the Healthy Paws accident and illness plan there’s a 15-day waiting period for accidents and illness and a 12-month waiting period for conditions linked to hip dysplasia or if your pet is under the age of six.

PROS

  • Surgery
  • Alternative Therapies
  • Cancer Treatment

CONS

  • Dental Disease
  • Breed Specific Issues
  • Behavioral issues

Best Customization Options

Pets Best Insurance

4.6
GET A QUOTE via Petinsurer.com's secure website
Maximum annual coverage
$5,000 - Unlimited
Reimbursement choices
70%, 80%, 90%
Deductible choices
$50, $100, $200, $250, $500, $1,000
Why We Like It

Editor's take

Pets Best vet direct pay can be used at any vets office as long as they agree to receive payment this way. If they do, you need to submit a reimbursement form (which can be found on Pets Best’s website) along with your claim, and Pets Best will direct the payment to your vet’s office. While your vet doesn’t need to be “in-network” or using any special system, they are not required to accept direct payment and may tell you you need to pay the bill up front. You should always check with your vet ahead of time to see what their direct payment policies are.

We like Pets Best as it offers competitively priced plans with a wide range of deductible options. This is great for people on a budget as it allows you to tailor your plan to what you can afford. There is no age limit for sign-ups, meaning you can purchase coverage for your pet later in life. You’ll also get unlimited access to a 24/7 emergency vet hotline for quick consultations at all hours of the day.

Pets Best offers multiple plans including an Accident-only plan, as well as 3 tiers called Essential, Plus, and Elite. You can also opt for an add-on for wellness / routine care plans for an extra fee which offers good coverage versus other plans on the market.

With Pets Best you can expect a waiting period of 3 days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses, and 6 months for cruciate ligament conditions. When choosing, note that exam fees are not included in the Essential plan, which is why we recommend opting for a higher-tier plan, such as the Elite plan.

PROS

  • Surgery
  • 24/7 Vet Chat
  • Exam Fees

CONS

  • Alternative Therapies
  • Breed Specific Issues
  • Prescription Food

Best for Comprehensive Coverage

CarePlus by Chewy

4.2
GET A QUOTE via Chewy's secure website
Maximum annual coverage
Unlimited
Reimbursement choices
80%, 90%
Deductible choices
$250
Why We Like It

Editor's take

CarePlus by Chewy offers vet direct pay if you have one of their more comprehensive plans. CarePlus partners with Trupanion and Lemonade to administer their policies, with the value plans coming through Lemonade and the more comprehensive plans through Trupanion. If you have one of the Trupanion plans through CarePlus, you can set up vet direct pay with any vet that works with the Trupanion system.

The vet only needs your policy number to submit the claim for you, then they directly receive the payment. Pet owners are only responsible for their deductible and copay. If you are planning to use direct pay, talk to your vet’s office prior to your appointment to make sure they are partnered with Trupanion and to understand their direct payment policies. You can use your CarePlus pet insurance at any vet nationwide, but not all offices will have the option to pay the vet directly.

CarePlus is one of the only companies that offer up to 100% reimbursement for prescription products. There is no maximum age of enrollment and it offers unlimited coverage limits. You’ll get access to telemedicine via chat/video which gives you free vet consultations for non-emergency topics.

Depending on the plan you choose, you will have a 2-5 day waiting period for accidents, a 14-day waiting period for new illnesses, and either a 14-day, 30-day, or 6-month wait for cruciate ligament conditions.

PROS

  • Chronic Conditions
  • Dental Disease
  • Behavioral issues

CONS

  • Alternative Therapies

What is vet direct-pay insurance?

Traditional pet insurance requires you to pay vet bills upfront and then submit a claim for reimbursement. Direct-pay pet insurance is a bit different.

Instead of having you pay out of pocket, your insurance company pays the vet directly. You don’t have to wait for reimbursement, making this type of pet insurance more convenient for people who may not have the necessary funds immediately available or who simply can’t wait for reimbursement.

How does vet direct-pay work?

When you have pet insurance that pays a vet directly, it will most often work in one of two ways.

Some pet insurance plans offer direct payment at checkout, which is when your insurance company pays the bill within a few seconds or minutes of your visit. If you have this type of pet insurance, you may have to make a co-payment or meet a deductible first.

For example, imagine your dog jumps off the bed and hurts his paw. Fortunately, the veterinarian says it’s just a sprain. At the end of your visit, the vet files a claim with your insurer. A few minutes later, the dog insurance company pays the bill, and you return home with your dog.

Not all companies offer direct payment at checkout. If you have a direct pay plan, it may reimburse your vet for each visit. Instead of paying within a few seconds or minutes, this type of plan pays a few days or weeks later. How long it takes depends on the terms of the plan.

Here’s how it works. Your cat has the sniffles. The veterinarian says she has a respiratory infection and needs antibiotics. After you leave the office, your vet submits a claim to your cat insurance company. A few days to a few weeks later, your vet gets paid for the services rendered during your visit.

What are the benefits of direct-pay pet insurance?

Pet insurance that pays upfront has the following benefits:

These benefits help to make the cost of your pet insurance worth it.

Which companies offer pet insurance that pays the vet directly?

These five pet insurance companies offer direct pay plans:

Paw Protect

Paw Protect is newer to the market and has taken this area by storm. It offers customers the option of a $2,000 interest-free line of credit via a virtual Visa card called Paytient. This allows customers to pay vet bills up-front with an allowance fund from Paw Protect.

It’s done through your phone like Apple Pay, and as it’s a Visa, it’s accepted at almost any vet. There aren’t any credit checks to get approved for it. You can also pay off your out-of-pocket expenses like copay and deductible over up to 12 months, with no interest or fees.

Although Paw Protect doesn’t require you to see a specific vet, if your vet doesn’t have a participating Visa payment terminal, you won’t be able to use Paw Protect for direct payment. You’ll have to pay out of pocket and submit a claim for reimbursement.

Learn more from our Paw Protect review.

Healthy Paws

Healthy paws can pay the vet directly for you, buy you must request payment in advance. Essentially, they require authorization before treating the animal, which can be a bit of a pain. The company’s claims team only works during normal business hours, so this can also affect your ability to make a direct vet payment in the evening or on weekends.

Healthy Paws works with any licensed veterinarian, so you don’t have to worry about choosing an in-network vet or getting billed for out-of-network expenses. That said, you remain responsible for all charges until the insurance company reimburses your vet. If a claim is denied, you’ll have to pay the bill yourself.

Learn more from our Healthy Paws Pet Insurance review.

Pets Best

Although not well-known, Pets Best offers a direct pay option that works much like standard pet insurance. After each visit, you submit a claim via the company’s online portal. Instead of reimbursing you, Pets Best reimburses your vet for all eligible expenses. Before you use this option, your vet’s office must fill out waiver form agreeing to be paid by Pets Best instead of directly from the customer.

Learn more from our Pets Best Pet Insurance review.

CarePlus by Chewy

CarePlus by Chewy is unique in the sense that all of its plans are offered through other insurance providers. Depending on the plan you choose it may be through a provider like Trupanion or another. Essentially, CarePlus acts as a sort of middle man. As a result, if the plan you choose is provided by Trupanion, you can have the option of Trupanion’s vet direct-pay solution. If not, then you won’t have direct pay as an option.

Learn more from our CarePlus by Chewy review.

Trupanion

Trupanion was the first company to test paying the vet directly and invented a software called Trupanion Express to make this possible. When you’re at the vet’s office and ready to pay the bill, the claim is paid directly by Trupanion to the vet. Therefore, the customer is not involved in the transaction and pet owners are only responsible for their deductible and copay.

However, for this to work, the vet must have Trupanion’s software, and the number of vets in the US who have it is around 20% nationwide.?If you use a vet that hasn’t opted into Trupanion Express, you’ll have to submit your own claims.

Trupanion has no per-condition limits, per-incident limits, annual coverage limits or lifetime limits. However, there is an age limit. You must enroll your pet before it turns 14, or else it won’t be eligible for Trupanion coverage. Trupanion doesn’t cover routine expenses, including exam fees, wellness checkups, or flea and tick prevention.

Which is the best direct-pay pet insurance?

Our favorite choice for direct-pay insurance is Paw Protect. We like this option best because you don’t have to mess with difficult waivers or authorizations. We also like that you are pre-approved with a line of credit and can use it whenever you need. That said, it may not be the best option for everyone.

At the end of the day, the best direct-pay pet insurance depends on what type of pet you have, how much you can afford to spend and whether your vet agrees to accept your coverage.

Therefore, before deciding, we recommend you check the terms of each provider to determine the best fit for your needs.

In addition to choosing the best coverage levels, you’ll also want to consider the following factors when choosing a policy:

1

Premiums

Your monthly premium is the amount you’ll have to pay your insurance company for your policy. The cost of pet insurance can vary widely depending on your coverage levels, your pet’s age and health, and various other factors.

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2

Copay

A copay is a fixed amount you pay toward each covered veterinary service. For example, if your plan has a $20 copay for each visit, you must pay $20 out of pocket before the insurance covers the rest.

See More See Less
3

Deductibles

Like human health insurers, pet health insurance companies often build a deductible into each plan. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward your pet’s bills before your insurance coverage kicks in.

See More See Less
4

Waiting periods

Many pet insurance plans also have waiting periods. A waiting period is the amount of time you must wait between the moment you purchase a policy and the time the policy goes into effect. If your pet insurance policy has a 14-day waiting period, then it won’t cover any vet bills until 14 days after you make your first premium payment.

See More See Less

For help finding the right insurance for your pet, you can also:

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What if I need help with my vet bills?

Pet insurance gives you extra peace of mind, but it doesn’t cover everything.

For example, many plans don’t cover exam fees and other routine expenses unless you pay for a wellness add-on. Some policies also have a payout limit, which limits the total amount of money the insurer pays out for covered expenses.

It’s also common for pet insurance companies to exclude preexisting conditions from their policies. A preexisting condition is a health problem that exists before you purchase pet insurance. For example, if your dog shows signs of hip dysplasia before you sign up for coverage, there’s a good chance the policy won’t cover any expenses related to hip dysplasia treatment.

If you need help paying veterinary expenses that pet insurance companies just won’t cover, you have a few options.

The Onyx and Breezy Foundation

The Onyx and Breezy Foundation provides grants to pet owners who need help paying veterinary expenses. Before you can apply for a grant, you must apply for Care Credit, a medical credit card. If you don’t qualify for Care Credit, you must include the denial letter with your application. If you’re approved, you must provide a copy of the approval letter to show that your credit limit is less than you need to pay your pet’s expenses.

When applying for a grant through The Onyx and Breezy Foundation, you must also provide the following:

Waggle

Waggle is a crowdfunding platform specifically for pet owners and animal rescue groups. If pet insurance companies won’t cover your veterinary bills, try creating a Waggle campaign. You must submit your veterinarian’s contact information, an estimate of your pet’s treatment expenses and several photos of your pet.

Once Waggle approves your campaign, you’ll be able to post the link on social media, making it easier to raise funds. For best results, make sure you submit compelling photos. If a donor has to choose between your pet and someone else’s, a good photo may draw their attention to your beloved dog or cat.

The Pet Fund

The Pet Fund provides financial assistance directly to pet owners. To qualify, your pet must need non-basic, non-emergent care. This means that The Pet Fund doesn’t cover routine dental care, spaying, neutering or treatment for broken limbs. It does cover treatment for cancer, heart disease and other non-emergent conditions.

If pet insurance companies won’t cover your pet’s bills, send an email to info@thepetfund.com. In the email, describe your pet’s needs as thoroughly as possible. If you meet the organization’s funding criteria, someone will ask you to complete a formal application. Be sure to include your telephone number in case the reviewer has any questions.

GoFundMe

GoFundMe isn’t specifically for pet owners, but it may help you raise money for vet expenses if the pet insurance companies won’t cover your bills. To solicit donations, set up a campaign on the GoFundMe website. If possible, post a copy of your pet’s treatment estimate to help potential donors feel comfortable supporting your cause.

The Magic Bullet Fund

The Magic Bullet Fund provides funds to help pay for chemotherapy or surgery to treat cancer. It doesn’t pay for experimental treatments, euthanasia, palliative care or treatments for other diseases.

To qualify for help from The Magic Bullet Fund, you must meet the following criteria:

The organization also has the following age and weight limits for pets:

When you apply, you must provide the following information:

RedRover

RedRover is another option of one of the pet insurance plans with direct pay that will cover your pet’s bills. The organization’s Urgent Relief Program provides small grants to help with the treatment of life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

Dog Product Hero Reminder Join the over 2,438,795+ insured cats & dogs across the US Compare pet insurance plans & prices from top providers in minutes COMPARE QUOTES Cat Product Hero Reminder

Direct-pay pet insurance FAQs

What is vet direct pay?

This type of pet insurance pays vets directly instead of requiring you to submit a claim and wait to be reimbursed.

How does reimbursement typically work with pet insurance?

Traditionally, you pay out of pocket for each vet visit, submit a claim and then wait for your insurer to send you a check or deposit money into your bank account. Trupanion, Healthy Paws and other companies have direct payment options, allowing you to use your pet insurance at the point of service.

Do all vets take pet insurance?

Not all vets are set up to accept direct payments from pet insurance providers. For example, Trupanion only works with certain payment processors. If your vet doesn’t use one of those processors, they won’t be able to accept direct payments. You can still use your insurance, but you’ll have to file your own claim and wait for reimbursement.

Leigh Morgan
Leigh Morgan Personal Finance

Leigh Morgan is a seasoned personal finance contributor with over 15 years of experience writing on a diverse range of professional legal and financial topics. She specializes in subjects like navigating the complexities of insurance, savings, zero-based budgeting and emergency fund development.

In the last five years, she’s authored over 300 articles for credit unions, digital banks, and financial professionals. Morgan is also the author of “77 Tips for Preventing Elder Financial Abuse,” a book focused on helping caregivers protect the elderly from financial scams.

In addition to her writing skills, she brings real-world financial acumen thanks to her previous experience managing rental properties as part of a $34 million real estate portfolio.

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