The best pet insurance for pre-existing conditions

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 apply to health insurance for humans. So the sooner you cover your pet, the better chance you have of covering chronic conditions that can develop later in life.

The cost of covering pre-existing conditions 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 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 sustains before the end of your policy’s waiting period. In other words, any medical condition your pet has before the start of the policy is not covered. This prevents pet owners from obtaining pet insurance immediately after a serious injury or illness diagnosis. Pet insurance is used to cover future illnesses or injuries to pets, not those in the past.

So, for example, if your dog breaks a leg before you’ve enrolled in a pet insurance plan, then any costs associated with the injury will not be covered. Any future related treatments and expenses are also not covered. The disease is considered present even if your pet has never seen a veterinarian before being officially diagnosed or treated. All that matters to insurers is when your pet started showing the first symptoms. There are usually two types of pre-existing conditions: treatable and incurable.

Treatable conditions

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 months to 24 months when your pet is 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 infections
  • Other treatable conditions

Incurable conditions

Incurable pre-existing conditions are diseases or injuries that cannot be cured. They are ongoing conditions and must be managed. Just a few examples are:

  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Crab
  • Urine blockages
  • Heart or kidney disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Other chronic conditions

Bilateral terms

Bilateral diseases affect both sides of your pet’s body. Examples include hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament tears. If a pet has a disease that affects one side of their body, chances are good that it will also affect the other side. So if your pet has pre-existing bilateral disease 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 review the last 12 to 24 months of your pet’s life to determine pre-existing conditions. They will usually ask for a full medical exam and ask for past veterinary records.

Some plans do not cover certain breeds due to the fact that they are prone to certain medical conditions. Different pet insurance providers may define and handle pre-existing conditions differently, so it’s important to get quotes from several pet insurers and compare costs and coverages before choosing a plan.

Cost of pet insurance with pre-existing conditions

No pet insurance company covers pre-existing chronic conditions. However, some will cover treatable pre-existing conditions, subject to certain limitations. The cost of pet insurance depends on many variables, including the pet’s type, breed, gender, age, where you live, the different types of coverage offered, and your deductible. Here are the average costs for both accident only and accident and illness (overall) cover.

Average accident-only premiums

  • dog
    • Annually: $218.13
    • Monthly: $18.17
  • a cat
    • Annually: $133.61
    • Monthly: $11.13

Average accident and sickness premiums

  • dog
    • Annually: $594.15
    • Monthly: $49.51
  • a cat
    • Annually: $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 insurer that does. It is important to understand what pre-existing conditions the pet insurance company classifies as treatable or incurable. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of insurers to those that will cover a particular condition, the next step would be to compare the different types of coverage offered and get policy quotes. If you have a pet with existing illnesses, it is important to take good care of them to ensure they are healthy. Keep up with vet checkups and vaccinations and offer good nutrition and exercise.

Getting pet insurance early can minimize the potential for your pet to develop a pre-existing condition that won’t be covered. The sooner you cover your pet, the more peace of mind you’ll have. Enrolling your pet in a policy while they’re still healthy will improve their chances of being fully covered if something happens down the road. Even if your pet has a pre-existing condition, your pet is still eligible for pet insurance, and any pre-existing condition should not stop you from considering coverage for other potential medical conditions that may occur later.

Pet insurance is structured similarly to human health insurance. Both include annual premiums, deductibles, annual limits and co-payments. Pet insurance companies also have different riders 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.