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Does Pet Insurance Cover Vet Visits? Insurance Standards Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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No one likes unexpected medical bills. Pet insurance can save you money and reduce the amount you have to pay if your pet becomes sick or injured. One common question that dog and cat owners have is whether pet insurance will cover vet visits. There isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Your pet insurance policy may or may not cover a vet visit based on the details of your policy and the reason for the appointment.

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Accident & Illness Coverage vs. Preventative Care Costs

Pet insurance companies divide veterinary care into two categories: accident & illness and preventative care. Understanding these two types of coverage means you won’t be shocked by unexpected veterinary bills.

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What Does Pet Insurance Consider an ‘Accident’ or ‘Illness’?

An accident is unplanned or unexpected, such as a car hitting your dog or your cat ingesting a piece of plastic. Pet illnesses include conditions like cancer and urinary tract infections. As a pet owner, these incidents are both emotionally and financially devastating. An accident & illness pet insurance policy can help make unfortunate situations affordable. Policies typically cover diagnostic tests, surgery, and many forms of treatment.

What the vast majority of pet insurances don’t cover, though, are pre-existing conditions. They are any conditions that your pet experienced before your insurance coverage. For example, if your cat developed diabetes three years ago, the insurance policy you purchase today would not cover any diabetes-related expenses.

What Is Veterinary ‘Preventative Care’?

Even healthy pets need to see their veterinarian at least once a year. The pet insurance industry considers these visits “preventative care.” Your pet insurance won’t pay for preventative care if you only have accident & illness coverage.

Some insurance companies offer pet “wellness plans” as an add-on to their accident & illness policies. Pet wellness plans that cover preventative care may not save you money in the long run. You’ll have to calculate the annual cost of the premium and compare the figure to what your animal clinic charges for preventative care.

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Pet Insurance Requires You to Pay Upfront

Suppose you’ve never had pet insurance before. In that case, you should know it works differently than how “human” health insurance operates in the U.S. You need to pay your veterinarian directly for any expenses. This is true for both accident & illness and preventative care costs. You then submit the claim to your pet insurance for reimbursement. Some pet insurance companies state they can approve claims in hours, while others take several days.

To have the best chance of getting your reimbursement as soon as possible, it is recommended to choose from the top-rated pet insurance companies on the market. Here we picked a few of them as an example:

Top Rated Pet Insurance Companies:

Most Affordable
Our rating: 4.3 / 5
Most Customizable
Our rating: 4.5 / 5
Best Holistic Coverage
Our rating: 4.5 / 5

What Are Pet Insurance Deductibles?

Most pet policies require you to meet an annual deductible before coverage kicks in. Some companies have several deductible amounts you can choose from. A higher annual deductible will lower your monthly premium. Choosing a high deductible is tempting, but remember, you must pay the amount out of pocket. Your deductible should be reasonable for your budget.



Whether your pet insurance covers a vet visit depends on the reason for the appointment and your coverage. Pet policies vary, so read the fine print carefully. It’s wise to compare several pet insurance companies before you purchase a new policy.

Most pet insurance policies cover unexpected and unplanned care such as broken limbs, cancer, and ingested objects. Some pet insurance companies offer separate wellness plans that you can add to your accident and illness coverage. Wellness plans may not save you money because the monthly premiums could cost as much or more than what your vet charges for preventative care. You have to calculate the potential costs to determine if preventive care coverage is right for you and your pet.

Featured Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

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