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My pet is sick. How do I use my pet insurance?

Woman with Pug on her lap submitting pet insurance claim | How do I use my pet insurance?
Posted by fetch! blog editors on Jan 02 2019

Wondering how pet insurance works? You're not alone. Much like us, our four-legged family members can get sick when we least expect it. In fact, 1 in 3 pets need unexpected veterinary care each year1. Getting your pet the treatment they need, when they need it, is important — but what about the cost? That’s where your pet insurance policy comes in.

How does pet insurance work?

Get treatment, file a claim and get reimbursed. It's that easy.

1. Get treatment for your pet

Sick pets need prompt face time with their vet. So if your pet seems under the weather, don’t delay in reaching out to your veterinary team. Get your furry friend the care they need to get back on their paws, and don't worry — your pet insurance policy is there to help cover the cost. Just remember that pet insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, which are any medical conditions your pet had before you purchased your policy.

2. File a pet insurance claim

To file a claim, complete your pet insurance provider's claim form and send it to them with copies of your paid invoices. Be sure to ask your veterinarian to forward your pet’s medical records to your provider. This can be done by fax, mail or email. A few companies make it even easier by letting you send paperless claims via their app.

Your pet insurance provider will assess your claim by reviewing the last few years of your pet's health history. That's why it's important to round up your pet's medical records before you file.

3. Get reimbursed for your pet insurance claim

Your reimbursement will be calculated based on your deductible (a set dollar amount you pay before your insurance kicks in), and your co-pay (usually 10 to 30 percent of the bill, after you pay your deductible). Your pet insurance provider will reimburse the remaining amount.*

So, how does pet insurance work? Here’s what this could look like in practice:

A sweet pup (let’s call him Lucky) got his paws on some chocolate and needed emergency veterinary care. Fortunately, his parents had pet insurance to keep their budget in the green, and Lucky lived up to his name by getting the treatment he needed, just in time.  

Lucky’s plan: $20,000 (annual coverage)

The deductible: $100

The reimbursement: 90 percent

Amount of veterinary bill: $2,000

Lucky’s parents paid ($100 deductible + 10% of the remaining bill): $300

Petplan’s reimbursement: $1,700

Amount left to pay future vet bills this policy year: $18,300

Generally, pet insurance policyholders can expect to receive reimbursement within a couple weeks — so you can focus on your pet’s recovery, not your wallet.


1. According to Datamonitor.

*Subject to policy terms and conditions. Pre-existing conditions, including those where clinical signs are present prior to the effective date of the policy or during the 15 day illness or 5 day injury period, are excluded from coverage.

***Example for illustrative purposes only. Please refer to your policy terms and conditions.