Can you get pet insurance with pre-existing conditions?
Most pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Because pets are considered property, there are more limitations and exclusions than human health insurance. So the sooner you insure your pet, the better chance you have of covering chronic diseases that may develop later in life.
The cost of pre-existing medical coverage is high, and since the average life expectancy is 10-12 years for dogs and 10-14 years for cats, pet insurance companies may not cover them. Some may cover pre-existing conditions if they are curable 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 suffers before your policy’s waiting period expires. In other words, any medical conditions your pet has before the policy begins are not covered. This prevents pet owners from buying pet insurance straight after a serious injury or illness. Pet insurance is used to cover future illnesses or injuries to a pet, not past ones.
For example, if your dog breaks a leg before you sign up for pet insurance, any costs related to the injury will not be covered. Any future related treatments and expenses are also not covered. A condition is considered pre-existing even if your pet has never visited a veterinarian before being officially diagnosed or treated. The only thing that counts for the insurers is when your animal shows the first symptoms. There are typically two types of pre-existing conditions: curable and incurable.
Curable pre-existing conditions are illnesses or injuries that your pet treated that no longer exist. Some pet insurance companies typically allow 12 to 24 months for your pet to be symptom free for a condition to be considered cured. Some examples are:
- respiratory infections
- urinary tract/bladder infections
- Vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders
- ear infection
- Other curable conditions
Incurable pre-existing conditions are illnesses or injuries that cannot be cured. They are ongoing conditions and need to be managed. Just some of the examples are:
- urinary blockages
- heart or kidney disease
- hip dysplasia
- Other chronic diseases
Bilateral conditions affect both sides of your pet’s body. Examples are hip dysplasia or a cruciate ligament tear. If a pet has a disease that affects one side of their body, chances are it will affect their other side as well. So, if your pet has a pre-existing bilateral condition on one side of the body, pet insurance companies typically won’t cover the other side if symptoms appear.
How does an insurer determine a pre-existing condition?
Some pet insurance companies will screen your pet for the last 12 to 24 months of their life to determine pre-existing medical conditions. They will usually request a full medical exam and ask for previous veterinary records.
Some plans do not cover certain breeds due to their predisposition to certain medical conditions. Different pet insurance providers may define and treat pre-existing conditions differently, so it’s important to get quotes from multiple pet insurers and compare costs and coverage before committing to a plan.
Pet insurance costs for pre-existing conditions
No animal insurance covers chronic pre-existing conditions. However, some cover curable pre-existing conditions with 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 for both pure accident and accident and illness (fully comprehensive) coverage.
Average premiums for accidents only
- Annual: $218.13
- Monthly: $18.17
- Annual: $133.61
- Monthly: $11.13
Accident and sickness average premiums
- Annual: $594.15
- Monthly: $49.51
- Annual: $341.81
- Monthly: $28.48
This is how you choose the right pet insurance for pre-existing conditions
Not all animal insurance policies also cover curable pre-existing conditions. The first step is to find an insurer that does this. It is important to understand which pre-existing conditions an animal insurance company classifies as curable or incurable. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of insurers to those that cover a specific 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 medical conditions, it’s important to take good care of them to ensure they stay healthy. Keep up to date with veterinary exams and vaccinations, and offer good nutrition and exercise.
Getting pet insurance early can minimize the potential of your pet developing a pre-existing medical condition that isn’t covered. The sooner you cover your pet, the more peace of mind you have. Registering your pet with a policy while they are still healthy will improve their chances of being fully insured if something happens later. Even if your pet has a pre-existing medical condition, your pet is still eligible for pet insurance, and a pre-existing medical condition should not prevent you from considering coverage for other potential medical conditions that may arise later.
Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance. Both include annual premiums, deductibles, annual limits and co-payments. Pet insurance companies also have different drivers that you can add, as well as additional coverage options. When considering pet insurance companies, be sure to compare the reputation, stability, customer service, and claims process for each insurer.