Can You Go to Any Vet With Pet Insurance?

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KEY POINTS

  • Buying pet insurance can be crucial to protect companion animals.
  • Pet owners need to know how the coverage works, especially the rules for selecting a vet.


Pet owners need to understand what this important insurance covers.

Pet insurance pays for the treatment of illnesses or injuries in animals. In some cases, if an optional wellness plan is chosen, it also pays for routine medical care. It's a good idea for most pet owners to purchase this type of insurance coverage to ensure they can afford whatever care their animal companions need.

One common question pet owners have when purchasing pet insurance is whether it is possible to go to any vet, or whether there is a limit on which medical professionals the insurance will pay for. Here's what pet owners need to know about this important issue.

Vet insurance usually covers any licensed veterinarian

Vet insurance typically will pay for covered care that a pet needs if it is provided by any licensed veterinarian. This can include ER and urgent care visits when a pet is taken to an animal hospital, as well as care from vets that maintain regular offices and see animals on a non-emergency basis.

The care will be paid for only if it is necessary for one of the covered conditions in the policy. For example, if a pet owner has purchased an accident-and-injury policy, the insurance will cover:

  • Treatments that are necessary as a result of an animal getting hurt accidentally, such as because of a fall or due to getting hit by a car.
  • Treatments that are necessary as a result of an illness. The illness must not have been pre-existing prior to the purchase of insurance and it must not be excluded per the policy's rules (sometimes, chronic or genetic conditions are not covered under certain pet insurance policies).

In some cases, a pet insurance policy will cover treatments, but not the exam needed to diagnose the condition originally. And unless the policy includes wellness care, it will not pay for routine veterinary exams, preventive care, or routine costs such as a spay or neuter surgery, or tick and flea prevention.

It's also important to know what the policy covers

While pet insurance policies cover treatments for accidents and illnesses when those treatments are provided by any licensed vet, it's important to know the details of what kinds of care the policy actually provides coverage for.

For example, while a back injury that a pet suffers should be covered as long as it was not a pre-existing condition, this does not necessarily mean that the policy would pay for an animal to visit a chiropractor, since this is considered to be an alternative form of treatment. Likewise, if a vet provides acupuncture or laser therapy, these might also be considered alternative treatments. If that's the case, then that type of care from the vet providing it would be paid for only if the policy covered alternative treatments.

If a pet owner is concerned about whether a specific vet's services will be covered, the best option is to get the claim pre-approved before the animal undergoes medical treatment. This is especially important for expensive veterinary services, since owners generally pay out-of-pocket and are later reimbursed by their pet insurer.

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