does pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

does pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
Posted by fetch! blog editors on Oct 01 2019

Pre-existing conditions in pets can be confusing to understand. Many people believe that if a pet has a pre-existing condition they cannot get any health coverage whatsoever. While no pet insurance covers incurable pre-existing conditions, your pet can still enroll in a pet insurance plan that protects against future unrelated injuries or illnesses or provides future coverage for curable conditions after an exclusionary period.

What is a pre-existing condition?

Pre-existing conditions are medical conditions which first occurred or showed clinical signs BEFORE the effective date of your pet’s insurance policy or DURING the policy waiting periods (defined as 15 days for injuries and illnesses; 6 months for hip dysplasia and any treatment associated with damage or rupture of cruciate ligaments, luxation of the patellas or other soft tissue disorders of the knee).

Examples of pre-existing conditions can include, but are not limited to:

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  • Addison's disease
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Chronic conditions
  • Cushing's disease
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Diabetes
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Heart disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Luxating patellas

Does dog insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Dog insurance does not cover an incurable pre-existing condition. Examples of these incurable pre-existing conditions include cancer, diabetes and kidney disease, to name a few. 

Does cat insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Similar to dog insurance, a cat insurance policy will not cover an incurable pre-existing condition.

However, some pet insurance providers will reimburse for a curable medical condition or injury that can be completely resolved without recurrence or any manifestations of clinical signs for a specific period of time – think vomiting or kennel cough in dogs for 365 days. But because these conditions can surface at any age, it’s important to protect your pet with insurance as soon as possible.*

Why aren’t pre-existing conditions covered?

The purpose of any insurance plan is to protect you from things that might happen in the future. If you were to sign up for car insurance after an accident, expenses from the collision would not be covered. Pet insurance acts in the same way.  Paying an affordable monthly premium ensures that your pet insurance provider will be able to cover your vet bills in the event of a new injury or illness.

Hereditary and congenital conditions

Whether your pet is born with a condition or predisposed to one because of their genes this does not necessarily mean they will be excluded from coverage. Some pet insurance providers cover pets for hereditary and congenital conditions, as long as clinical signs or symptoms were not present prior to enrolling in coverage. While certain breeds are more likely to suffer from these types of conditions, we recommend enrolling all pets as early as possible.

How can I avoid pre-existing conditions?

While many conditions can’t be avoided, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations about proper nutrition, exercise and regular trips to the vet’s office to ensure they stay in top shape. Life is unpredictable and the longer you wait to enroll your pet, the more likely they are to develop a condition that requires life-long treatment.

Is it worth getting pet insurance for pets with pre-existing conditions?

While pre-existing conditions aren’t eligible for coverage, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider insuring your pet.

As pets age, the likelihood of certain injuries and illnesses increases and it’s important to be prepared. If a dog is diagnosed with diabetes prior to enrollment, that condition will not be covered, but if he breaks his leg after enrollment, his owner could save thousands of dollars. Comprehensive coverage protects you from any new injury or illness after your coverage begins and policy waiting periods are over.

Here are just a few of the things that Petplan covers to help protect your pet and your wallet:

  • unexpected accidents and injuries
  • new illnesses
  • diagnostic testing
  • surgery & rehabilitation
  • dental disease and injuries
  • prescription medications
  • specialist treatment

Moving forward

Regardless of your pet’s age or medical history, it is never too late to enroll in pet insurance.** While pre-existing conditions will not be covered, future accidents and illnesses will. Signing up for coverage as early as possible (even for older and wiser pets) will keep them protected for life. Use our condition checker to see what medical conditions and health issues are often experienced by your pet's breed before they become a pre-existing condition.

For other questions relating to our coverage, visit our FAQs page.

*See your policy terms and conditions.

**May be subject to limitations based on pet age at policy inception or renewal.

Subject to policy terms and conditions. Pre-existing conditions, including those where clinical signs are present prior to the effective date of the policy or during the 15 day waiting period, are excluded from coverage. Waiting periods can vary by state.

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