Does Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions? (2024)

Pet insurance doesn’t usually cover pre-existing conditions, though some exceptions exist.

Anna Baluch
Written byAnna Baluch
Photo of an Insurify author
Anna BaluchInsurance Writer
  • 4+ years writing insurance and personal finance content

  • MBA from Roosevelt University

Anna leverages her personal finance and insurance knowledge to create educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logo
Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

media logomedia logo
Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark Friedlander
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Andrew Huang
Data reviewed byAndrew Huang
Headshot of Andrew Huang, Directory of Analytics at Insurify
Andrew HuangVP, Marketing & Analytics
  • Chartered financial analyst

  • 12+ years in data analysis and marketing

Andrew applies his vast knowledge of analytics and insurance industry trends to help inform Insurify’s content and marketing efforts.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logo

Updated December 10, 2023

Why you can trust Insurify: Comparing accurate insurance quotes should never put you at risk of spam. We earn an agent commission only if you buy a policy based on our quotes. Our editorial team follows a rigorous set of editorial standards and operates independently from our insurance partners. Learn more.

Pet insurance can help pay for your pet’s medical care and vet bills after an accident or illness. It can help you avoid the high out-of-pocket expenses that come with unexpected treatments. Some insurers cover curable pre-existing conditions that precede coverage, but pet insurance policies typically exclude pre-existing conditions.

Here’s what you need to know about pre-existing conditions and pet insurance for your dog, cat, or other animals.

Find Affordable Pet Insurance

Comparing rates could save you up to 57%

Secure. Free. Easy-to-use.
4.8/5 (3,806+ reviews)
Shopper Approved

What are pre-existing conditions in pet insurance?

As defined by insurance companies, a pre-existing condition is a medical condition that existed before the start date of your pet’s insurance coverage, including during your policy waiting period. Because of the high cost of treating some pre-existing conditions, pet insurance products don’t usually include pre-existing conditions.

However, some insurers will cover your pet’s pre-existing condition if the condition is curable.[1] Below is an overview of the four common types of pre-existing conditions.

Curable pre-existing conditions

A curable pre-existing condition is an ailment or injury that occurs before an insurance policy goes into effect but can be cured. As long as a pet hasn’t had symptoms during the policy waiting period, which typically lasts six months to a year, the insurer may cover the condition.

Here are several examples of curable conditions pet insurance may cover:

  • Bladder infections

  • Broken bones

  • Diarrhea

  • Ear infections

  • Gastrointestinal disorders

  • Kennel cough

  • Respiratory infections

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Vomiting

Incurable pre-existing conditions

An incurable pre-existing condition is an ailment or injury that appears prior to the start of a pet health insurance plan and can’t be cured. In most cases, these conditions require ongoing vet visits, treatments, medications, and surgery. Unlike curable pre-existing conditions, pet insurance companies don’t usually cover incurable pre-existing conditions.

Here are some of the most common incurable pre-existing conditions:

  • Allergies

  • Arthritis

  • Bladder crystals

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Epilepsy

  • Heart disease

  • Hip dysplasia

  • Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism

  • Kidney disease

  • Lipomas or skin lumps

  • Orthopedic conditions

  • Urinary blockages

Bilateral pre-existing conditions

A pre-existing bilateral condition is an illness or injury that can affect the left and right sides of the body. For example, if a pet has received treatment for a bilateral condition on its left side before the insurance policy began, many pet insurers will exclude coverage for the same condition on its right side because the pet has a high likelihood of later developing it on that side.

A few examples of bilateral conditions include:

  • Cataracts

  • Cruciate ligament tear

  • Glaucoma

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia

  • Patella luxation

  • Uveitis (inflammation inside the eye)

Hereditary and congenital pre-existing conditions

Also known as a birth defect or a hereditary condition, pre-existing hereditary conditions refer to conditions a pet has at birth. Pets inherit these conditions, which are typically common within the breed. A congenital condition might stem from an injury or condition sustained during pregnancy.

Many pet insurance companies don’t cover hereditary and congenital conditions at all, but some do cover them with restrictions or for an extra fee.

Here are some common hereditary and congenital conditions:

  • Cherry eye

  • Congenital heart disease

  • Hernias

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Intervertebral disc disease

  • Liver disease

  • Polycystic kidney disease

  • Portosystemic shunt

Pet insurance companies that cover pets with pre-existing conditions

Some pet insurance companies provide coverage for certain curable pre-existing conditions, like bladder infections, vomiting, and ear infections.

The following companies offer coverage for some curable pre-existing conditions:

  • Embrace: The company may cover a curable pre-existing condition if your pet is free of treatments and symptoms within 12 months of their last viable symptom. Embrace defines curable conditions as respiratory infections, urinary tract and bladder infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal disorders.

  • ASPCA: Pet insurance from the ASPCA might pay for curable pre-existing conditions if your pet is free of symptoms and treatments for 180 days. However, the ASPCA won’t cover any pre-existing knee and ligament conditions.

  • MetLife: This insurer may cover a pre-existing condition that a previous insurance company covered for group benefits coverage.

  • Nationwide: Pet insurance from Nationwide might provide coverage for a pre-existing condition if it’s been a cured condition for at least six months.

  • Spot: This company won’t classify a condition as pre-existing if your pet hasn’t shown symptoms or received treatment for 180 days, with the exception of knee and ligament conditions.

  • Fetch: If your pet remains symptom-free from a curable condition for 12 months from the effective date of a policy with Fetch, the company may include the condition in the future.

  • Pets Best: Plans from this insurer can cover curable pre-existing conditions if your pet has healed and no longer needs treatment. Specifically, this can include broken bones, lacerations, bruises, sprains, upper respiratory infections, dental fractures, and pyometra.

Learn More: Best Pet Insurance Companies and Plans

Learn More: Best Pet Insurance Companies and Plans

Factors to consider when buying insurance for a pet with pre-existing conditions

Pet insurance can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical expenses for your pet. Here are a few factors to consider as you shop for coverage for your pet with a pre-existing condition:

  • Scope of coverage: Pet insurance coverage can vary depending on the insurer and plan type. In general, you can choose between accident and illness coverage, accident-only coverage, and wellness coverage.[2]

  • Deductible amount: A pet insurance deductible refers to the amount of money you need to pay toward vet costs over a certain time period before your coverage kicks in. In general, pet insurance companies allow you to customize the deductible with amounts between $100 and $1,000. While a higher deductible usually means a lower premium, it also leads to higher out-of-pocket costs.

  • Company reimbursement rate and policy limits: Policy limits — the maximum amount of money an insurer will pay once you’ve met your deductible — vary by insurer. Insurers may offer policy limits on an annual, lifetime, or per-procedure basis. Most insurance plans offer reimbursement levels (the amount you’ll receive for the cost of care) between 40% and 90%, but a few offer reimbursement of up to 100%.

  • Cost: You’ll find that monthly costs for pet insurance differ greatly among pet insurance companies. That’s why it’s a good idea to shop around, read pet insurance reviews online, and compare quotes.

Compare Pet Insurance Quotes

Find coverage for your pet in less than two minutes

Secure. Free. Easy-to-use.
4.8/5 (3,806+ reviews)
Shopper Approved

Pet insurance alternatives that cover pre-existing conditions

Even though pet insurers don’t ever cover medical expenses for incurable pre-existing conditions, some alternatives can help you save money on your pet’s care and improve or resolve its medical issue.

Consider the following alternatives to standard coverage:

  • Pawp: This company offers an emergency fund that will cover up to $3,000 in emergency care for up to six pets, even if your pet has a pre-existing condition. It can cover toxic ingestion, choking, difficulty breathing, life-threatening blockages, and severe injuries. The Pawp 24/7 care team will confirm the emergency over video and activate the fund. Once you get the invoice for your pet’s treatment, you can begin the claim reimbursement process.

  • Pet Assure: Pet Assure offers a discount plan and a wellness plan. Both plans can provide coverage for pets with pre-existing conditions, regardless of age.

  • RedRover Relief Urgent Care: This is a grant program that provides financial support for pets with urgent or life-threatening conditions. Financial grants primarily fill small gaps to allow animals to get medical care. A typical grant amount is $250.

  • Frankie’s Friends: This charitable pet foundation helps low-income families pay for emergency, specialty, and life-threatening veterinary care up to $2,000 per pet, per household. The foundation makes payments directly to the veterinarian rather than reimbursing pet owners.

Pet insurance and pre-existing conditions FAQs

Having a pet with pre-existing conditions can make finding coverage more complicated. The following information should help you understand whether your pet can receive coverage.

  • Do you need to provide your pet’s medical records when getting insurance?

    Some pet insurance companies may request your pet’s medical records or proof of a veterinary exam to check for pre-existing conditions or other chronic conditions before you enroll your pet.

  • Is pet insurance worth it if it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions?

    Even though pet insurance may not cover your pet’s pre-existing condition, it can help pay for hefty medical expenses for future injuries and illnesses.

  • Can you get pet insurance for senior pets?

    Yes, you may be able to buy a pet insurance policy for a senior pet. But your premium will likely be higher than for a younger pet. Some insurers may exclude coverage for previously uninsured pets over a certain age.

  • Can the insurance company change its pre-existing conditions policy after coverage begins?

    No. For the length of your coverage, the specifics of your policy shouldn’t change.

  • What qualifies as a pre-existing condition for pets?

    A pre-existing condition for a pet is an illness or injury that your pet shows signs of or received a diagnosis for before your pet insurance coverage begins.

Sources

Anna Baluch
Anna BaluchInsurance Writer

Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

media logomedia logo
Mark Friedlander
Reviewed byMark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
Mark Friedlander
Mark FriedlanderDirector, Corporate Communications
  • Corporate communications director for Insurance Information Institute

  • 20+ years in insurance and communications

As Director, Corporate Communications for Triple-I, Mark serves as the non-profit’s national spokesperson, sharing information and education on a wide array of insurance issues.

Andrew Huang
Data reviewed byAndrew HuangVP, Marketing & Analytics
Headshot of Andrew Huang, Directory of Analytics at Insurify
Andrew HuangVP, Marketing & Analytics
  • Chartered financial analyst

  • 12+ years in data analysis and marketing

Andrew applies his vast knowledge of analytics and insurance industry trends to help inform Insurify’s content and marketing efforts.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logo

Latest Articles

View all