How To Insure A Pet That Has A Pre-Existing Condition
7 June, 2018
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By: Lisa Fimberg

If you are looking to insure your dog or cat that has a pre-existing condition, it can be very difficult to find a pet insurance provider that will allow you to do so.  There isn’t a completely straight-forward answer as to whether or not your particular pet with a pre-existing condition can be insured.  Each company’s definition might vary as to what a pre-condition is and whether you can insure your pet.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is defined as any illness, injury, or condition that displayed symptoms prior to your pet insurance policy takes effect (including any waiting periods). This includes recurrence of a condition your pet showed signs of prior to enrollment.  In general, any health condition your pet had before coverage started whether you received a diagnosis from a vet or not would more than likely be considered pre-existing and ineligible for coverage.

Even if companies do not cover the cost of treatment for a pre-existing condition, they will still insure your dog or cat for other issues, so there are still benefits in signing up with pet insurance.

Are there any exceptions for pets with pre-existing conditions?

One possible exception to this rule applies to acute conditions (a short duration) that are completely healed.  An example of an acute condition is an ear infection.  If your dog or cat had an ear infection at 7 months old and you enrolled your dog or cat in a new policy a year later, if two years later they have another ear infection, the treatment for that infection would most likely be covered.

But, if your dog or cat suffers from chronic ear infections, requiring medical treatment several times per year before you enroll them in a policy, those conditions would be considered pre-existing.

The health conditions that disqualify pets from an insurance policy are usually those that have no cure. The most common ones include:

Cancer

Orthopedic conditions

Allergies

Heart disease

Diabetes

Skin lumps

Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism

Arthritis

Urinary blockages

Even some orthopedic condition including but not limited to luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and orthopedic illness or injury on the opposite side of a prior injury might not be covered for your dog or cat.

Why don’t pet insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions?

Since insurance is designed to cover emergencies and the unexpected, most companies won’t cover anything that’s already affecting your pet. Even if your dog ruptured a cruciate ligament on one side of his body, it could be considered a bilateral condition if it develops on the other side.  Therefore, it won’t be covered. Additionally, plans with a 12-month coverage will reset pre-existing conditions upon policy renewal, in order to exclude any ongoing, recurring or chronic illness (but new ailments will be covered).

Insurance policies are mostly for the “what if” and not “what exists” similar to home or car insurance.

Are there any exceptions for pets with pre-existing conditions?

One possible exception to this rule applies to acute conditions (a short duration) that are completely healed.  An example of an acute condition is an ear infection.  Let’s say your dog or cat had an ear infection when they were 7 months old and you enrolled your dog or cat in a new policy a year later. If two years later they have another ear infection, the treatment for that infection would most likely be covered.

But, if your dog or can suffers from chronic ear infections, requiring medical treatment several times per year before you enroll them in a policy, those conditions would be considered pre-existing.

If the disease or condition that your pet is or was suffering from, is curable, it will most likely be covered. Most insurance companies will cover your pet’s condition if it was sick but is now well, and has not shown signs or symptoms of the disease or condition for at least six months to a year. It is important to note that the rule applies to conditions that are actually curable.

Hereditary disorders are covered by some insurance policies. A hereditary disorder is one that is passed down to your pet from its parents, regardless of whether the disorder is visible or not.

Below are a few examples of pre-existing conditions might get covered:

Respiratory infections

Ear infections

Urinary tract infections

Vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal disorders

Dermatitis and some types of skin rashes

Most insurance companies will cover pets that were diagnosed and treated for cancer before getting coverage. However, any conditions that result from the cancer treatment or the development of cancer on another part of the body will not be covered.

Below are a few, top providers that might cover some conditions that could be considered pre-existing:

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Healthy Paws offers policies with no restrictions for hereditary or congenital conditions, including cancer.  They also cover emergency care, hospital stays, and surgeries.  And their waiting period for injury and illness coverage is only 15 days.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace clearly states that it does not cover pre-existing conditions, although there are some pre-existing conditions it can cover at its discretion.  Embrace is one of the few companies that distinguishes between curable and incurable pre-existing conditions. Incurable pre-existing conditions typically require lifelong care. Curable pre-existing conditions are those that can be completely resolved. Curable pre-existing conditions could be covered moving forward if the pet goes 12 months symptom free.

Petfirst Pet Insurance

Petfirst offers accident and illness coverage that is pretty much industry standard for the price. However, what sets them apart is they have no waiting periods for hip dysplasia, patella luxations or orthopedic conditions which is great for pets that are a little older.

The best way of knowing how a company deals with pre-existing conditions is to go through its policy carefully with the help of a member of their team before enrolling. Most insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions and those that do, will only do so under their most expensive covers.

As always, the best time to insure your pet is when they are younger before any pre-existing condition has started!  If you need to learn more about pet insurance, take a look at our guide that gives you a thorough explanation.

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