Does pet insurance cover routine vet visits?

Last updated: January 1

A pet health insurance policy that includes a wellness plan will typically help cover the costs of routine veterinary visits, such as exams and preventive care. Pet wellness plans, sometimes called a preventative pet care plan or routine pet care coverage, may be optional on your pet insurance policy. Typically, you pay a premium for the plan, and your insurer helps reimburse you for costs associated with routine vet visits, such as physical exams or vaccines.

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What do pet wellness plans cover?

A pet wellness plan is designed to help cover the costs of routine preventive care, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). A pet wellness plan may help pay for the following services:

  • Routine physical exams (such as an annual checkup)
  • Flea and heartworm prevention
  • Vaccinations

Some insurers may offer wellness plans that come in tiers with varying coverage levels (and your premium might be higher if you choose more coverage). A higher-tiered wellness plan sometimes provides coverage for dental care or preventive surgeries, such as spaying or neutering.

In addition to pet wellness plans, traditional pet insurance policies also offer other types of coverage. According to the III, these are some other levels of pet health coverage that may be available:

  • Basic coverage, also referred to as standard pet health insurance, which may help pay for medical care after accidental injuries or illnesses.
  • Comprehensive coverage, which may help cover costs for vet visits, prescriptions, X-rays and lab fees, in addition to costs related to accidental injuries and illnesses.

Read your pet insurance policy carefully or check with your insurer to understand what's covered by your pet's insurance plan.

How much of my vet bills will a pet wellness plan cover?

The percentage or dollar amount of a veterinary bill that your pet insurance will help cover depends on your plan. As with most insurance policies, pet health insurance plans typically include premiums, deductibles, co-pays and limits that will affect how much the insurer pays. Most pet wellness policies are also set up on a reimbursement basis, says the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This means you will typically pay a premium for a pet wellness plan and pay for routine veterinary care up front, and then be reimbursed by the insurer for a portion of the bill afterwards.

For example, if you bring your dog, Max, in for his check-up, you'll pay Max's veterinarian for services provided that day, including the exam and shots. Once you've submitted the claim to the insurer, you will be reimbursed for covered costs.

What is not covered by a pet wellness plan?

Your pet insurance policy may list certain exclusions, or things not covered by your plan. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), some common exclusions may include:

  • Treatment for pre-existing medical conditions
  • Care related to pregnancy and/or birth
  • Grooming and claw/nail trimming

The III also notes that there may be coverage restrictions for hereditary conditions, such as hip dysplasia, and that some providers may have age limits for coverage. Read your pet insurance policy documents or check with your insurer so you know what kinds of treatment and conditions are (and are not) covered. You should also keep in mind that there is typically up to a 30-day waiting period before your pet insurance plan will take effect, says the NAPHIA. This means any illnesses or accidents that occur before the waiting period is up will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Most insurers also only offer wellness plans for cats and dogs, according to the NAPHIA. You should check to see what coverage is available if you have another type of pet, such as a bird, rabbit or reptile.

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