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Are There Pet Insurance Providers that Accept Pre-existing Conditions?
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If you’re thinking of taking out pet insurance for your dog or cat, it’s essential that you compare a range of plans before deciding on the right cover for your pet.
When you’re comparing your options, however, there’s one important question you might want answered: Will pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
Unfortunately, the answer is generally no, pet insurance providers don’t cover pre-existing conditions. However, there are some workarounds available to help ensure that you can cover the cost of your pet’s vet bills — keep reading to find out what they are.
What is a pre-existing condition?
First things first: we need to understand exactly what a pre-existing condition actually is. While the precise definition varies between insurers, a pre-existing condition is an illness or injury that exists before you take out an insurance policy, or one that's diagnosed or causes symptoms before the waiting period ends.
Common examples of pre-existing conditions include diabetes, cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, and orthopedic problems.
Does pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
As we touched on above, pet insurance providers don’t cover pre-existing conditions. But why is that the case?
Essentially, insurers have this rule in place to stop pet parents waiting for their dog to get sick before purchasing pet insurance to cover the resulting expensive veterinary bills.
From the insurer’s point of view, covering pets with pre-existing conditions would mean taking on an unacceptable level of risk. So if your 5-year-old dog is diagnosed with diabetes a few months before you take out a pet insurance plan, your insurer won’t provide any cover for veterinary costs that arise as a result of diabetes.
You won’t be able to claim ignorance either, as an illness or injury doesn’t necessarily have to have been diagnosed by a veterinarian in order to be classed as a pre-existing condition.
As an example of this, take a look at Trupanion’s sample pet insurance policy for California and the treatment of pre-existing conditions. This specifies that there will be no cover for injuries or illnesses “for which a veterinarian provided medical advice or treatment, or for which signs or evidence of their potential manifestation existed prior to the Policy Enrollment Date.”
Further down, it states that there's no cover for injuries or illnesses that “would have been observable or reasonably known to be present by You or Your Veterinarian or that are evidenced by the presence of typical signs even if they are not noted in Your Pet’s medical records.”
Yes, this is just a sample policy, but these are common terms and conditions you’ll find on any pet insurance plan. That’s why pet insurers enrolling your pup in pet insurance at a young age, before they have the chance to develop pre-existing conditions.
Is there any way to get cover for a pre-existing condition?
It’s important to point out that having a pre-existing condition won’t stop your pet from being able to access pet insurance — it just means that any costs associated with that condition won’t be covered.
However, there may still be other ways you can get coverage for your pet’s pre-existing condition.
Curable vs incurable pre-existing conditions
Some pet insurers will allow you to take out cover for pre-existing conditions they classify as “curable” — but a range of terms and conditions must be met.
Not only will the condition need to have been cured, but your pet will need to have been free of any symptoms for a specified time period (such as 6 or 12 months) before that condition can be covered. Conditions that often fit into this category include ear infections, urinary tract infections, and respiratory infections.
Pet care savings account or credit card
Another option is to consider pet insurance alternatives, such as a pet care savings account or credit card.
These can be a handy way to ensure that you have enough money set aside for those unexpected emergencies, but they’re not without drawbacks. Credit card interest rates and repayments can mean the total cost skyrockets, while it could take months or even years to put enough money into savings to cover unexpected vet bills.
Finally, you might also like to consider a fund designed to cover emergency veterinary expenses. For example, the Pawp Emergency Fund covers up to $3,000 of emergency vet bills when you pay a monthly membership fee.
So if your pet faces a life-threatening emergency that arises in relation to a pre-existing condition, up to $3,000 of cover is available. However, the fund is only for emergencies that require immediate veterinary attention, so it doesn’t offer the same cover for a wide range of situations as a traditional accident and illness pet insurance policy.
If your pet has a pre-existing condition, don't fret. There are other ways to ensure that they can get the protection they need, and that you can afford the best veterinary care.
We understand that pet healthcare and insurance is a confusing topic. Still searching for the "pawfect" option for your pet? Start comparing pet insurance plans today from leading insurers like Healthy Paws and Embrace and save over $270 a year.