Best Pet Insurance With Shortest Waiting Period
25 June, 2018
waiting period best pet insuarnce

By: Lisa Fimberg

When you enroll your dog or cat into a new pet insurance policy, you might think that you are ready to go and can start using your pet insurance right away.  With all pet insurance, this is never the case. You first have to go through the standard waiting period for your newly enrolled pet. Every pet insurance policy has a waiting period and some are shorter than others.

Why is there a waiting period?

The reason that pet insurance companies enforce a waiting period is to make sure that there isn’t any fraud involved when pets are enrolled in a new or existing policy. This waiting period helps the insurance company ensure that pet owners are not enrolling their pet because they are injured, sick, or have a pre-existing condition.  If there weren’t any waiting periods, it would potentially drive up the price for all pet insurance carriers which in the end would affect everyone.

Does any pet insurance company provide immediate coverage?

Pet insurance is designed to cover any unexpected illnesses or accidents that occur in the future. For this reason, pet insurance companies don’t offer immediate cover for any conditions.  Even pet owners with kittens and puppies have to wait to be covered.  Every pet insurance company has a different waiting period and requirement and some waiting lists are shorter than others.

Wellness pet insurance offers immediate coverage with no waiting period

Wellness Pet Insurance, which is also referred to as routine or preventative care, is a pet insurance policy add-on that covers the more routine daily care for your pet such as non-emergency exams, medications, and procedures.   There is no waiting period for wellness pet insurance unless you purchase it at the same time as your pet insurance.  Because it is an add-on policy, wellness would then follow the specific pet insurance company’s waiting period.  Only Nationwide offers wellness pet insurance as its own policy and there is only a 24-hour waiting period.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is an injury or illness that your dog, cat or bird even already has before you enroll them into a pet insurance policy.  Most policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions which is any injury, illness, or irregularity that exits before your pet insurance policy begins.   This also applies to any illness or condition that pre-dates the policy or a pre-existing medical condition if you change providers.  Figo offers treatment for pre-existing conditions if the condition or illness has been cured for at least 12 months.

Waiting periods vary state to state and by policy

Every pet insurance policy has a different waiting period.  Depending on where you live (which state), you could have a 48 hour or 14 day waiting period for accidents. If you have a dog with an orthopedic condition (hip, patella, cruciate ligament issues), the waiting period is typically six months.

There are three different waiting periods and the below shows the typical amount of waiting time:

Waiting Period for Accidents: 0 – 15 days

Waiting Period for Illness: 14 – 30 days

Waiting Period for Orthopedic Issues: 14 days – 12 mos.

Below is a practical example of how a waiting period works for most pet insurance policies:

Your pet insurance policy becomes effective as of June 1, 2018. Your policy period runs from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 which is one year from the effective date. Your waiting period for accidents is 5 days from the date your policy became effective. Your waiting period for Illnesses is two weeks from the date your policy became effective (14 days) and your waiting period for orthopedic conditions is six months from the date your policy became effective.

Making claims during the waiting period

During your waiting period, if your pet should suddenly have a health issue, including an unexpected emergency, your claim won’t be covered, unfortunately.  This is yet another reason to insure your dog or cats when they are young and healthy before any condition occurs.

Most pet insurance policies require a vet visit when enrolling

Most pet insurance policies require a vet visit when you enroll. For example, you might be required to have had a licensed veterinarian examine your pet within the past year (12 months) for the terms and conditions of your pet insurance policy to be satisfied. If you haven’t done this, you need to take your pet to the vet during the 14 day waiting period before your coverage starts. In many cases, you are not required to show immediate exam proof to the insurance company, but you will likely be asked for this proof later on, particularly if you file a claim.

It’s always recommended that you have your pet examined by your vet before you enroll since some conditions can go unnoticed and undiagnosed and you won’t be charged with a claim that won’t be covered.  And, of course, so you can have a clear understanding of what illnesses and conditions ares covered by the pet insurance you choose.

The list below are the best pet insurance companies with the top coverage and shortest waiting periods:

petfirst waiting period



With PetFirst , the waiting period or coverage for illness starts 14 days after enrollment and coverage for illness starts at midnight on the same day as enrollment.  Coverage for congenital/hereditary conditions starts 12 months after enrollment.

Waiting period Illness: 14 Days

Waiting Period for Accidents: 0 – Day of Enrollment

Waiting Period for Hip Dysplasia: 14 days

Waiting period for Cruciate Ligaments: 12 months

Read all about Petfirst’s Coverage


figo pet insurance


Figo Pet Insurance

Figo’s standard waiting periods are 14 days for illness and 5 days for accidents. However both of these can be waived if you use a partner Veterinary, Shelter or Humane Society code when purchasing the policy, and your pet receives a wellness exam within 48 hours prior to purchase.

There is also a 6-month waiting period for problems associated with cruciates and patellas (knees). However, if you choose to have your pet examined by a veterinarian within the first 30 days of the policy, and the medical record specifically notes that your pet does not have any pre-existing conditions relating to its knees, the 6-month exclusion will be waived as well.

They also mention that they will review pre-existing conditions on a case by case basis, and may waive a pre-existing condition if they deem the condition was curable and it has not shown signs or symptoms in the prior 12 months.

Waiting Period illness: 14 days

Waiting Period for Accidents: 5 Days

Waiting Period for Cruciate Ligaments: 6 months

Read all about Figo’s coverage

petsbest pet insurance



Wellness plans can be used the day after you enroll.

With PetsBest, your pet will have coverage from just about every accident or illness there is.

Coverage for accidents starts 3 days after enrollment and for illness starts 14 days after enrollment. Hereditary and congenital conditions have a 12 month waiting time in some states, but in most states they do not cover congenital/hereditary conditions or only cover limited payouts after the animals second birthday.

Waiting Period for Illness: 14 days

Waiting Period for Accidents:  3 days

Waiting Period for Cruciate Ligaments: 6 months

Once met, waiting periods are waived for continuous, uninterrupted policy renewals.

Read all about PetsBest coverage


embrace pet insurance price



Embrace offers an extensive width of coverage and excellent customer service. Secondly, there is a 6 month waiting period for orthopedic conditions with Embrace, but luckily it can be brought down to 14 days with a quick visit to the vet for an orthopedic exam.

Waiting Period for Illness: 14 days

Waiting Period for Accidents:  2 days in some states

Waiting Period for Cruciate Ligaments: 6 months but brought down to 14 days with vet visit

48 Hour waiting Period for Accidents by state:

48 Hours: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WY

14 Days: NH, RI, SC, VT, WV

Read all about Embrace’s coverage

petplan pet insurance



Petplan offers excellent coverage and a waiting period similar to some of our best.

Medical records are not typically required for Petplan pet insurance enrollment. Based on your pet’s medical history, records may be requested if: your pet is currently taking medication; your pet has had a recent injury or illness; you are re-enrolling your pet with a Petplan policy after there has been a break in coverage.

Waiting Period for Illness: 15 days

Waiting Period for Accidents: 5 days

Waiting Period for Cruicate Ligaments:  6 mos.

Read all about Petplan’s coverage

nationwide pet insurance



Nationwide has waiting periods that are industry standard at 14 days, although Wellness starts 24 hours after approval.  Nationwide is the only pet insurance provide where you can purchase a wellness plan on its own and not as an “add-on” to their pet insurance policies.

Waiting Period for Illness: 14 days

Waiting Period for Accidents: 14 days days

Waiting Period for Cruicate Ligaments: 14 days.

There is a 12 month waiting period for Cruciate Ligaments under their Major Medical plan which is an accidents only plan.

Read all about Nationwide’s Coverage


healthy-paws pet insurance


Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance policy has a fifteen (15) day waiting period after your policy effective date for accidents and illnesses.

Hip dysplasia coverage is provided at no extra cost and is subject to a 12 month waiting period for pets younger than six. At this time, we are unable to cover hip dysplasia if your pet is six years of age or older at the time of enrollment.

Waiting Period for Illness: 15 days

Waiting Period for Accidents: 15 days

Waiting Period for Cruicate Ligaments:  6 mos.

Read all about Healthy Paws Coverage

Pet insurance is important to have, but to have your claims covered, it’s important that you understand the waiting periods and other conditions of the policy you choose.  A vet visit before you enroll is the best way to understand the condition of your dog or cat and then what will be covered for your pet.

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