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How pet insurance reimburses owners

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Pet insurance doesn't work like health insurance for humans, particularly when it's time to get reimbursed. Here's what to know. Getty Images

Pet insurance offers both financial protection for owners and medical care for dogs and cats. 

For a minimal fee each month (which is less expensive if paid annually) owners have peace of mind knowing their furry friends are safe should a health issue arise. And they have the added security of knowing that any issues that do come up won't break the bank.

But pet insurance isn't exactly like health insurance for humans. There are some surprising ways it differs, particularly when it comes to getting paid for service.

By thoroughly understanding how pet insurance pays for care, owners will then better be able to plan their finances and their pet's vet visits.

If you don't have pet insurance at the moment - or want to add more pets to your current plan - reach out to an insurance professional today who can help you get started.

How pet insurance reimburses owners

When humans visit their physician they can expect to pay a co-pay but not much more (bills for the overall visit may be received in the future). 

However, that's not how it works with pet insurance. When going to the vet, you'll be responsible for any services, procedures, and medicine your pet received at the time of the visit. So you'll have to tap into savings or charge your credit card that day. 

Your pet insurance provider, however, will reimburse you for any money spent (depending on your policy and coverages). You'll just need to file a claim and submit it. From there, your insurance provider will process it and send you the funds you spent back.

According to Fetch by The DoDo, owners will need to submit two documents to process a claim:

  • "A finalized invoice from your vet showing what your pet was treated for and how much you were charged. An invoice has to show a zero balance or that it was paid in full in order for us to accept it."
  • "Detailed medical records from your pet's most recent checkup (a vet visit unrelated to your pet getting sick or hurt)."

"Claims are typically processed within 15 days from when we receive all your documents," Fetch by The Dodo says.

Spot pet insurance works similarly, telling owners to pay for service after it's been provided. "With pet insurance, you pay your vet bill as you normally would, and then you submit your claim to get reimbursed for eligible expenses, based on the parameters of your coverage," they write on their FAQ page

Many insurance providers will pay you back via direct deposit. 

"We'll ask you to enter your bank account information as part of submitting your claim in the Lemonade app," Lemonade pet insurance providers explain. "Once it's approved, we'll issue payment directly into your account."

While the reimbursement process is approximately the same from provider to provider, each insurer has different plans, coverage options and costs. So make sure to shop around to find a pet insurance company that works best for you. Reach out to an expert now or use the table below to get started.

Other considerations

Reimbursement is only one factor to account for when reviewing your pet insurance options. Don't forget the following:

  • Cost: You'll generally pay less for pet insurance the earlier you start. Older pets typically have more problems and will be more costly to protect.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Pet insurance, unlike health insurance for humans, discriminates against pets with known health conditions and won't cover care for them. This is another reason (besides cost) to get started with a plan early before ailments arise with more frequency.
  • Types of pets: Dogs are generally more expensive to insure than cats, although there are breeds of both animal types that can be cost-prohibitive. If you can, do your research before buying a new animal so that you know exactly what to expect in terms of medical care costs.

Have more questions? Speak with a pet insurance pro today who can help you find a reliable and cost-effective plan. 

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