What are considered pre-existing conditions?
“A pre-existing condition is any illness or injury your pet has shown symptoms of before your coverage begins,” says Anthony Martin, founder and CEO of Choice Mutual and a member of the Forbes Financial Council. While different types of pre-existing conditions exist, “the most common can include allergies, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes,” says Martin.
He warns that symptoms are enough for the insurance company to consider it a pre-existing condition, even if you don’t have a diagnosis. “For example, if your dog is constantly licking its paws pre-policy, and after enrollment, they are diagnosed with allergies, the allergies will not be covered by your insurance,” says Martin.
Curable pre-existing conditions
Pet insurance doesn’t typically cover pre-existing conditions. But many providers make an exception if it’s considered “curable.” Urinary tract infections, diarrhea, infected ears, breathing infections, and vomiting are examples of curable pre-existing conditions, according to Garrett Yamasaki, founder of Trending Breeds.
Curable conditions that occur before the policy’s effective date can also include broken bones and kennel cough.
For example, “an illness won’t be deemed ‘pre-existing’ under the ASPCA’s pet insurance program if it can be treated and there have been no symptoms for 180 days (excluding knee and ligament conditions),” says Yamasaki. “After 180 days, if the ailment returns, it may be treated as a brand-new issue.”
Incurable pre-existing conditions
Yamasaki warns that pet insurance providers classify several pre-existing diseases as incurable. The types of pre-existing conditions that insurance companies don’t generally cover include allergies, crystalline bladder inflammation, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, heart conditions, dysplastic hips, kidney illness, orthopedic ailments, and urinary obstructions.
Pay special attention to the fine print when considering coverage for a pet with an incurable diagnosis. Many pet insurance providers don’t distinguish between curable and incurable pre-existing conditions. For the best long-term coverage, you’ll need to know specifically what your policy includes.
Bilateral conditions are those where the disease or condition has a high probability of affecting both sides of your pet’s body. Common ailments include hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament problems, cataracts, and luxating patellas.
Many pet insurance companies classify bilateral conditions as pre-existing. While some pet insurance policies cover bilateral conditions, pet insurers can exclude them or group them together as a single issue.
If your pet has conditions before you’ve purchased pet insurance, find out if any are considered bilateral. Bilateral coverage is crucial to treat conditions like hip dysplasia, which can be very expensive to treat without insurance.
Hereditary and congenital conditions
Your policy may also include hereditary and congenital conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, eye disorders, and heart disease.
While related, the two types of conditions are very different. When a pet inherits a condition from a parent, it’s a hereditary condition. A congenital condition is developed in utero, although symptoms may not appear for months or years.
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