Does Pet Insurance Cover Emergency Care?

by | 02/22/2023

Keeping your pets happy and healthy is a big job especially if they spend a lot of their time outdoors. Some pets go through their entire lives never needing to see a vet other than for annual exams and vaccinations, while others seem to always be sick or injured. You just never know if or when your pet will get a disease or suffer an injury requiring emergency vet care.

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Emergency visits to the vet or vet clinic tend to be more costly than routine visits. Whether you take your pet to a vet clinic, a 24-hour emergency animal hospital, or a specialty clinic, you can expect to pay more. Many pet owners have their cats and dogs covered under a pet insurance policy. Does pet insurance cover emergency care? Continue reading and learn more.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Emergency or Urgent Care?

Emergency or urgent care for your pet typically refers to taking your pet to the vet or a vet clinic for urgent or immediate care. There is a difference between an urgent care visit and an emergency visit. Urgent care is used when you take your pet to the vet for an issue that requires immediate attention but is not life-threatening. These might include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Itchy skin or rashes
  • Bite wounds
  • Wound treatment
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Bloat
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Limping or pain
  • Eye issues
  • Urinating blood
  • Infestation
  • Ear infection

Pet insurance is designed for these types of situations and will generally cover the entire visit minus the deductible and co-insurance. It may be covered under an illness/accident policy or an accident/only policy depending on if it’s classified as an accident or an illness.

With an urgent care visit, you may not be charged an exam fee but will be charged for the services provided to the animal. However, where you take your pet can play a big part in what you’re charged for and what you are not charged for.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Emergency Vet Visits?

An emergency vet visit is often treated as an urgent care visit, but they are slightly different. Unlike an urgent care visit, an emergency vet visit might include charges for exams, scans, fluids, surgery, and even hospitalization. While urgent care is for things that are not life-threatening but need immediate care, emergency vet visits are for things that are life-threatening such as:

  • Choking
  • Heatstroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Allergic reactions
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizures
  • Penetrating wounds
  • Serious accident or trauma

These situations, which are life-threatening and require emergency veterinary care, are also covered by pet insurance. An illness/accident policy and an accident-only policy will both cover these emergency services after the deductible and co-insurance are paid.

If the policy is new, the waiting period must be over before the insurance will cover the services. Although this might vary by company, many pet insurance companies have a 14-day waiting period for illness and a 48-hour waiting period for accidents.

Accident-Only Insurance

Most pet owners who purchase pet insurance purchase an accident and illness policy. This type of policy covers accidents and illnesses, whereas an accident-only policy only covers accident-related claims.

Accident-only policies are beneficial to pet owners who have an elderly pet that is too old to be covered on an accident/illness policy. Accident-only plans are typically cheaper than illness/accident plans. Accident-only plans generally cover the following things.

  • Hit by a car
  • Bloat
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Accidental poisoning
  • Prescription drugs for covered accidents
  • Foreign body ingestion
  • Broken bones
  • Torn cruciate ligament

Average Cost of an Emergency Room Vet Visit

The average cost of an emergency room vet visit can vary a lot not just by the place you take the animal but also by the services required. If it’s something minor, the cost is usually less than a serious emergency. However, sometimes the process of eliminating things and discovering it’s something minor can run into a large vet bill.

Because emergency vet clinics are usually open 24/7, you may also be charged an “after hours” charge. If you’re taking your pet to an emergency vet clinic because the situation is more than your local vet can handle in his office, that will also increase the cost.

Here are some fees you might expect for emergency services for your cat or dog. Larger dogs are usually at the higher end of the charges. Emergency veterinary care costs are generally lower in small communities than in larger cities.

  • Examination or Consultation – $100 to $150
  • X-Rays – $150 to $250
  • Basic bloodwork – $80 to $200
  • Ultrasound – $300 to $600
  • Wound treatment and repair – $800 to $2,500
  • Hospitalization for 1-2 days – $600 to $1,700
  • Hospitalization for 3-5 days – $1,500 to $3,500
  • Emergency surgery for accident – $1,500 to $5,000

Plans That Cover Emergency Care

Most pet insurance plans cover emergency care. The amount they cover depends on the insurance company and the type of plan you have in place for your pet.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace offers coverage for emergency care for your dog or cat. The coverage is provided with their basic illness/accident policy as well as with the accident-only plan. It covers things like diagnostic testing, exam and consultation fees, prescription medications, emergency room and specialist care, surgery, and hospitalization.

Pets Best Pet Insurance

Pets Best offers a couple of different types of coverage for emergency vet visits and care. They offer Emergency and Specialty Care coverage for your pets. Some of the vet services may be covered under their Pets Best BestBenefit Accident and Illness plan, and some are covered under their accident-only plan. In addition, their emergency and specialty care plan will cover emergency visits as well as visits to a specialist if so needed.

SPOT Pet Insurance

SPOT Pet Insurance covers emergency visits under its accident and illness plan as well as its accident-only plan. SPOT allows you to customize the plan to one that meets your needs regarding reimbursement, deductible, and maximum payout amount.

Figo Pet Insurance

Figo Pet Insurance offers three levels of coverage: essential, preferred, and ultimate. Each one offers a different deductible, reimbursement rate, and maximum payout amount. Each of these policies covers emergency care with a licensed veterinarian. While they don’t typically cover a vet’s exam under their policies, they will cover it for emergency care.

As we always recommend, getting insurance for your pets early will save you from wondering if their necessary bills will be covered. Accidents can and do happen, and it’s best to assess your financial risk if something does occur. Typically, it is easier to manage a known expense such as a monthly premium, rather than the unknowns that may come from unexpected emergency vet bills.