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What does pet insurance not cover

👉 Before you dive into the article, be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms and verbiage used regularly when talking about pet insurance in our pet insurance glossary.

The essentials

  • Most pet insurance providers have similar exclusions — Routine care, pre-existing conditions, and hereditary conditions are common pet insurance exclusions.
  • Added wellness plans provide extra coverage — These cover portions of preventative care like vaccinations, exam fees, and spaying/neutering that aren’t covered by most pet insurance policies.
  • No plan covers general pet care expenses — Pet food, pet supplies, and other general expenses are considered out-of-pocket costs.
  • Pet insurance isn’t liability insurance — If your dog bites someone or destroys someone’s property, pet insurance likely won’t cover the damage.

Knowing what you and your pet need from pet insurance is a great way to start looking for the right policy. It’s just as important, however, to understand what might and might not be covered by any policy.

Common pet insurance exclusions

Like human health insurance plans, pet insurance plans come with exclusions, too. Your type of coverage affects what’s included and excluded in your policy. For example, a comprehensive plan could cover accidents, illnesses, and routine care. Meanwhile, accident-only plans will cover just that: accidents. Three principal exclusions in most pet policies are:

  • Wellness or routine care
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Developmental disorders

Wellness, preventative, or routine care

In most instances, traditional pet insurance policies won’t cover routine vet care such as vaccinations, spaying and neutering, check-ups, flea and heartworm prevention, or annual dental cleanings. Many providers offer a wellness plan to help cover these expenses, but they usually cost extra. And while wellness plans will cover routine care, they won’t cover other elective care such as grooming or nail trims.

👉 Regular dental cleanings may not be covered, but other expenses like emergency dental care might be.

Pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing conditions are significant health problems that your pet has before you enroll them in pet insurance. Such issues typically aren’t covered, but there are exceptions. Some specific symptoms — infection or vomiting, for example — are considered curable. If your pet hasn’t had an episode or symptoms for a year, the underlying condition may be covered. Check with your specific plan to see what pre-existing conditions are covered.

Developmental issues and disorders

Congenital abnormalities or birth defects are conditions pets are born with. Some are inherited (like breeds predisposed to certain health conditions), while others are caused by chemicals or injury during pregnancy (like cleft palates).

If the condition hasn’t developed to a point where clinical signs are visible, coverage may be offered. In other instances, hereditary disorders that get passed down may have limited coverage whether they’re visible or not. Check with your specific provider to see what policies cover these conditions.

Pet food, supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses

Pet insurance won’t cover everyday expenses like food, supplies, litter boxes, leashes, or toys. However, some policies cover prescription pet food if your vet recommends it for health reasons. Behavioral health, like therapy and and medications, will be covered by certain providers such as Fetch by the Dodo but isn’t common in all comprehensive coverage.

👉 Every pet insurance provider offers different coverage. Make a list of your pet’s needs before choosing your policy.

Does pet insurance cover liability?

Most pet insurance companies don’t offer this kind of liability coverage in the event of a bite or property destruction, but it may be a part of your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. There are some exceptions. For an additional charge, Trupanion offers a Pet Owner Assistance package that covers property damage to others done by your pet for up to $25,000.

There is also canine-specific liability insurance that pet owners can purchase for 24/7 coverage from financial responsibilities relating to your dog injuring someone or damaging someone else’s property.

Pet insurance provides a financial benefit if and when your pet is injured or gets sick. While it may not seem worth it to some, reassurance in an emergency is all the reason some pet owners need when shopping for a policy for their pet.

Frequently asked questions

What does pet insurance cover?

Pet insurance coverage ranges based on the provider and the policy. Most insurance plans cover injuries, illnesses, and any emergency medical care your pet may need.

What are the disadvantages of pet insurance?

While having pet insurance can be a financial benefit in the case of an emergency, owners will still have to pay the costs upfront and wait for a reimbursement. You also may not use all the benefits during your pet’s lifetime. And remember: pet insurance doesn’t cover all pre-existing conditions.

Does pet insurance cover all expenses?

Most pet insurance plans cover injuries, accidents, unexpected illnesses, surgeries, medication, diagnostic testing, and emergency care. Not every vet expense in those categories is covered, and not every policy reimburses the same amount.

Do I need pet insurance?

Emergencies can happen anytime, and pet insurance helps cover any medical expenses your pet may need. It can also help owners avoid the impossible decision of putting a pet down because of the inability to pay for expensive emergency care.

What pet insurance covers hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is covered by most major insurance providers as long as the policy was purchased before diagnosis. If your pet had hip dysplasia in one hip and was diagnosed with it in the opposite hip later on, that likely won’t be covered since it’s considered a bilateral condition.

Why doesn’t pet insurance cover exam fees?

Regular exams aren’t usually covered under pet insurance since they’re considered routine care. An emergency vet visit, however, may be covered by certain policies.

Does auto insurance cover pets?

This depends on your specific auto policy. Research the details of your  auto insurance provider for more information on potential pet coverage.