Can you get pet insurance with pre-existing conditions?
Most pet policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Since pets are considered property, there are more limitations and exclusions than there are for human health insurance. So the sooner you cover your pet, the better chance you have of covering chronic conditions that may develop later in life.
The cost of covering pre-existing conditions is high and since the average life expectancy of dogs is 10-12 years and cats 10-14 years, pet insurance companies may not cover them. Some may cover pre-existing conditions if they are treatable and your pet has not experienced the condition for a period of time.
What is considered a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition is any injury or illness your pet experiences before your policy’s waiting period expires. In other words, any medical condition your pet had before the start of the policy is not covered. This prevents pet owners from getting pet insurance as soon as a serious injury or illness is diagnosed. Pet insurance is used to cover a pet’s future illnesses or injuries, not past ones.
So, for example, if your dog breaks its leg before you signed up for a pet insurance plan, any expenses related to the injury will not be covered. Any future related treatments and expenses are also not covered. The condition is considered pre-existing even if your pet has never seen a vet before being officially diagnosed or treated. The only thing that matters to insurers is when your pet first started showing symptoms. There are usually two types of pre-existing conditions: treatable and incurable.
Treatable pre-existing conditions are illnesses or injuries that your pet has been treated for and is no longer suffering from. Some pet insurance companies usually have a limit of 12 to 24 months of your pet showing no symptoms for the condition to be considered cured. Some examples:
- Respiratory infections
- Urinary tract/bladder infections
- Vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disturbances
- Ear infections
- Other treatable conditions
Incurable pre-existing conditions are diseases or injuries that cannot be cured. These are ongoing conditions and must be managed. Just a few examples:
- Blockages of urine
- Heart or kidney disease
- Hip dysplasia
- Other chronic conditions
Bilateral conditions affect both sides of your pet’s body. Examples include hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament tears. If an animal has a disease that affects one side of its body, there is a high probability that it will also affect the other side. So if your pet has a pre-existing bilateral condition on one side of the body, pet insurance companies usually won’t cover the other side if symptoms develop.
How does an insurer determine a pre-existing condition?
Some pet insurance companies look at the last 12 to 24 months of your pet’s life for pre-existing conditions. They will usually ask for a full medical examination and ask for previous veterinary records.
Some plans do not cover certain breeds because they are predisposed to certain medical conditions. Different pet insurance providers may define and treat pre-existing conditions differently, so it’s important to get quotes from several pet insurers and compare costs and coverage before choosing a plan.
The cost of pet insurance with pre-existing conditions
No pet insurance company covers chronic pre-existing conditions. However, some will cover treatable pre-existing conditions subject to certain limitations. The cost of pet insurance depends on many variables, including the type of pet, breed, gender, age, where you live, the different types of coverage offered, and your deductible. Here are the average costs of cover for accident and accident and illness (comprehensive) only.
Average accident premium only
- the dog
- Annual: $218.13
- Monthly: $18.17
- Annual: $133.61
- Monthly: $11.13
Average insurance premium for accidents and illnesses
- the dog
- Annual: $594.15
- Monthly: $49.51
- Annual: $341.81
- Monthly: $28.48
How to choose the right pet insurance when dealing with pre-existing conditions
Not all pet insurance companies cover even treatable pre-existing conditions. The first step is to find an insurance company that does. It is important to understand what pre-existing conditions a pet insurance company classifies as treatable or incurable. Once you’ve narrowed down the list of insurers to those that cover a certain condition, the next step is to compare the different types of coverage offered and get policy quotes. If you have a pet with pre-existing conditions, it’s important to take good care of it to ensure it stays healthy. Be up to date on vet checkups and vaccinations and offer proper nutrition and exercise.
Getting pet insurance early can minimize the chance that your pet will develop a pre-existing condition that won’t be covered. The sooner you cover your pet, the more peace of mind you will have. By enrolling your pet in a policy while they’re still healthy, you’ll improve their chances of full coverage if something happens. Even if your pet has a pre-existing condition, your pet is still eligible for pet insurance and any pre-existing condition should not prevent you from considering coverage for other potential medical conditions that may develop later.
Pet insurance is structured similarly to health insurance for people. Both include annual premiums, deductibles, annual limits and payments. Pet insurance companies also have different add-ons that you can add as well as other coverage options. When considering pet insurance companies, be sure to compare the reputation, stability, customer service and claims process for each insurer.