A large majority of pet insurance providers offer to pay your vet directly, this is on the proviso that your vet is happy for this to happen. It can be the case however that not all vet practices allow this from insurers.
The positives with this are that you don’t have to pay your vet initially for the treatment meaning that you won’t have to find hundreds or even thousands of pounds before your claim is assessed. All you’ll be paying out as a pet owner will be the excess on your insurance policy.
There are however some drawbacks to this, let’s explore in more depth.
Virtually all pet insurance providers will pay your vet directly, but it’s not always the case that your vet will accept this. There are a few reasons for this, but can be the case that with smaller, independent vets who may need to receive payment prior to treatment or shortly afterwards, rather than waiting on a claim to be assessed.
Similarly, some vets may have had negative experiences from insurance companies in the past or have never worked with a particular providers. This is where it could be useful to choose a more well known provider with a proven claims record to improve confidence and trust for your vet.
Given that virtually all pet insurers offer direct vet payment, the ability to use this feature depends on how open your vet is, so it’s always worth asking your vet first if they will accept direct payments. They may not be able to suggest an insurance provider but they should be able to let you know which providers they’ve worked with before, typically a lot of vets work with Petplan, but if you’re considering a different provider have a chat with them.
Once you’ve found the right cover for you and need to claim, there are two different ways that pet insurance pays out for vet treatment.
If your vet agrees to accept a direct payment then all you need to pay is the excess of your policy, which you pay to the vet.
On most claim forms there will be a section where it’ll ask who the payment should be made to, you can select the vet at this point and enter their details.
If you have a policy which has a coinsurance or co-payment alongside the excess then this works in a similar way.
Providers can still pay your vet directly, the co-payment and the excess would be taken off the total claim amount, and you would pay that directly to the vet.
If the vet chooses not to accept direct payments then the only other option you have is to proceed by paying the vet the full vet bill, then look to claim the amount back from your pet insurer.
The amount you’ll be sent will be minus the excess and any coinsurance you may have on your policies.
This can be a particular struggle when severe conditions arise and treatment costs are at their most expensive.
We’ve reviewed the main providers from the UK market to find out whether they offer direct vet payment:
|Provider||Accepts direct payment|
|Bought By Many||Yes|
|Legal & General||Yes|
|Lifetime Pet Cover||Yes|
|Paws & Claws||Yes|
|Scratch & Patch||Yes|
Different vet practices from the larger networks like Companion Care, Goddards and MediVet will usually be familiar with working with insurers for direct vet payment. However, if you don’t have a mainstream chain of vets or work with an individual practice then you might find they’ll be less likely to accept direct payments. If having direct vet payment is a key feature of insurance for you, then make sure that you check with your vets before you buy your policy. Or equally, if you already have a policy you can always choose a vet practice based on whether they will work with your chosen insurer.
Reasons why some vets don’t accept these payments can vary but typically you might find:
Usually vets are more likely to accept direct payments from larger insurers like Petplan, Animal Friends and Bought By Many.
Pre-authorisation is something some some providers can do and others can’t, this depends upon how each insurance provider runs their business with their underwriter.
Pre-authorisation is part of the claims process which allows an insurer to confirm that you have the correct cover in place and agree to payment before treatment takes place. By insuring with a provider that offers pre-authorisation you’ll find that this gives confidence to both you as a pet owner and the vet as they’ll no longer need to worry about non payment.
Whilst having a pet insurer and a vet practice that can both accept direct payments makes life a lot easier for you as a pet owner, allowing you to focus on your pets recovery, there are some downsides.
Limits on direct payments on pre-authorisations
As we mentioned above some providers do offer pre-authorisation, but this can come with limits. Some providers will pre-authorise claims but only is the claim limit is within a certain amount, with Animal Friends this currently sits at £1,000. So if your claim goes above £1,000 then they aren’t able to pre-authorise it which may make it more difficult for your vet to accept direct payments. Check with both the insurer about any pre-authorisation limits as well as your vet to see if this limit will impact their willingness to accept direct payments.
Costs for paperwork charged by vets
Finally, in some cases of pre-authorisation there may be additional paperwork to be completed and your vet may charge you an admin fee for completing the paperwork and liaising with the insurance company for you. These admin fees will not be covered by your insurance so it’ll be a further cost to factor in. Not all vet practices will charge for this, but definitely double check with them.