- Most pet insurance providers exclude pre-existing conditions — This includes injuries or illnesses that occurred before the policy begins.
- Avoid this problem by enrolling your pet early — If you rely on pet insurance to cover emergencies, don’t wait to sign up. Register as soon as you bring home Fido or Fluffy.
- A pet savings account is an alternative to insurance — That plus preventative care and careful budgeting for expected and unexpected costs may ward off many pet expenses. However, some conditions may exceed your savings and the most careful of plans.
What is a pre-existing condition?
Pre-existing conditions are injuries or illnesses that occurred before your pet’s insurance policy went into effect or during the policy’s waiting period. However, if a pre-existing condition is curable and is resolved before the plan takes effect, it’s likely to be covered. A chronic condition that’s incurable and likely to occur again wouldn’t be covered.
How would my insurance company know about a pre-existing condition?
Pet insurance companies will review your pet’s vet records and will require an exam from your pet’s veterinarian to determine whether your pet has any health problems that would be considered a pre-existing condition.
Curable pre-existing conditions
If your pet has been diagnosed with what pet insurance companies would consider a curable condition, there’s a higher chance that your policy will cover the condition. It’s important to note, however, that it would take a full year after the date of the last occurrence of the condition before it can be covered.
Some common curable conditions include respiratory infections, urinary tract and bladder infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and even some cancers. Every insurance company and policy is different, so make sure to do your research on what is and isn’t covered.
Incurable pre-existing conditions
Unlike curable conditions, chronic or incurable pre-existing conditions — and any conditions related to them — are never covered by your pet’s insurance policy. These can include:
- Heart conditions
- Degenerative conditions
- Lipomas or skin lumps
- Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
- Urinary or bladder crystals or blockages
- Orthopedic conditions
Orthopedic conditions include any orthopedic illness or injury on the opposite side of a prior injury — more on this in a second.
Are bilateral conditions covered?
A bilateral condition is a condition or disease that affects both sides of the body, such as hip dysplasia or a cruciate ligament tear. When a pet is diagnosed with one of these conditions, they run a higher risk of the same condition on the other side of their body. Unfortunately, if this is the case and your pet’s condition emerges on the other side of their body, their pet insurance policy likely won’t cover them.
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Frequently asked questions
Does pet insurance cover previous conditions?
No, pet insurance companies won’t cover pre-existing conditions, but a pre-existing condition won’t make your pet ineligible for pet insurance. It’s also important to note whether the pre-existing condition is curable or not. If it is, it can likely be covered at a later time, but always check with your policy provider.
Does pet insurance cover pre-existing arthritis?
Arthritis is considered a chronic condition and won’t be covered by pet insurance. The most common type of arthritis that affects dogs and cats is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, and it most commonly occurs in pets 10 years and older.
What are the disadvantages of pet insurance?
While there are many advantages of pet insurance, it has some disadvantages. For example, some policies exclude routine vet care, require you to pay upfront for services and receive reimbursement later, and don’t cover pre-existing conditions.
How important is it to have pet insurance?
Having pet insurance can be a great financial aid for pet owners when their pet needs care, especially in times when they may not be able to afford it otherwise. Any pet can have an emergency — pet insurance can help cover costs even for expensive treatments like surgery or cancer care.