Pet insurance is a great way to protect yourself against the financial fallout of a pet getting unexpectedly ill or being involved in an accident. It also ensures that you have the money available to give your pet the treatment it needs. There is a good range of pet insurance plans available, but there are exclusions with most policies, and one thing that is excluded from most policies to varying degrees is pre-existing conditions.
Some companies refuse to cover any pre-existing conditions. Some may even have a bilateral exclusion, which means, for example, if your dog suffers ligament damage in the front left knee, the policy will not cover similar ligament damage in the right knee.
With that said, if the condition is curable and your pet has gone a specified number of days or months without reporting symptoms, some insurance policies will treat any further instances of that condition as a new illness, meaning that your pet is covered. Below are pet insurance plans for pre-existing conditions, including the amount of time that you will need to wait before you can claim for a pre-existing condition.
A Quick Comparison of the Winners for 2023
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The 10 Best Pet Insurance Providers for Pre-Existing Conditions
1. ASPCA – Best Overall
The ASPCA is better known for its work protecting animals and lobbying against animal cruelty, but it also offers pet insurance for dogs, cats, and, somewhat unusually, horses. It has a good range of policies with annual limits up to $10,000, and you can ring to get a quote for an unlimited annual policy.
Of those companies that will cover cured pre-existing conditions, ASPCA is among the most generous. They will cover curable conditions as long as the pet has been symptom-free and treatment-free for 180 days. Most companies require 1 year of being symptom free.
ASPCA also covers hereditary and congenital diseases, regardless of the age of the pet. As long as they weren’t diagnosed before the end of the policy’s waiting period, which is 14 days after the policy starts. You can even get your pet microchipped and have the cost covered by insurance. Other benefits include no upper age limit for pet policies and stem cell treatment is covered.
However, it can take up to 30 days for a claim to be processed, and you will be charged an additional fee if you opt to pay for the insurance monthly. Of the short symptom-free waiting period and the inclusion of congenital and hereditary conditions, ASPCA offers the best pet insurance for pre-existing conditions.
2. Pet Assure – Best Value
Pet Assure doesn’t really offer pet insurance policies, but they do offer discounted veterinary treatment plans, and if your pet has been diagnosed or is showing symptoms of having an incurable condition or they are unlikely to ever be symptom-free long enough to be able to take advantage of a pet insurance policy that includes cured pre-existing conditions, this might be your best option to save money and ensure that you can continue treatment for a pet.
The policy is available for all pet types, from dogs to llamas, and there are no exclusions whatsoever. And, if your beloved pet does get ill and needs treatment, you can save as much as 25% on veterinary costs for the treatment. What’s more, you can also enjoy discounts on wellness treatment and preventive care.
Although there are no exclusions regarding pet type, age, or existing conditions, Pet Assure is currently only available through employers that have signed up for the program, although that might change in the future, and you might be able to convince your employer to enroll. While it isn’t really pet insurance, this type of plan might be your only option if your pet has already been diagnosed with a serious condition.
3. AKC Insurance
AKC Pet Insurance policies look quite unique concerning their approach to pre-existing conditions. In eligible states, once you have coverage for your dog or cat, they will be covered for pre-existing conditions after you have held a policy for one full 365-day term. The next time you renew your policy, the condition will be covered. This means that you will essentially have to pay at least one year of premiums before you get help with a pre-existing condition, but the pet doesn’t have to be symptom-free during that period.
Deductibles range from $100 to $1,000 and reimbursement amounts from 70% to 90%. Annual coverage can be set from $2,500 to $20,000 or unlimited. Similarly, you can set up an unlimited incident limit, which is important because if your pet is diagnosed with a condition that will need treatment for life, all of the treatment for that condition will be included as part of the incident limit. Even allergy medication can add up over 15 years, so do make sure you set a suitable incident limit.
New policies are only available to pets under the age of 10, and if you want to cover hereditary or congenital conditions, there is an additional charge. Multi-dog discounts and discounts for dogs from certain breeders and with the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification are available.
4. Spot Pet Insurance
Spot Pet Insurance covers hereditary and congenital conditions. It also covers cured pre-existing conditions after a 180-day symptom-free period, although this doesn’t cover everything because Spot does have bilateral exclusions, so if your dog or cat suffers knee or ligament conditions in one leg, they won’t be covered for similar issues in the other legs in the future.
They do offer annual limits from $2,500 to unlimited and reimbursement options of 70%, 80%, or 90%, and deductibles from $100 to $1,000. Their policies even include alternative therapies like acupuncture and can cover the cost of behavioral treatment, where appropriate.
There are no upper age limits on pets, either, but their policies do work out expensive compared to the competition, and there are additional fees for anything other than annual policy payments.
5. Fetch Pet Insurance
Fetch Pet Insurance offers insurance for cats and dogs and has a 12-month symptom-free requirement for pre-existing, curable conditions. They cover hereditary and congenital diseases including hip dysplasia and all costs, including veterinary examination fees, are covered, although they are obviously subject to the same deductibles and limits as any other treatment options.
Reimbursement of up to 90% is available and there are good options available for coverage limits and deductibles. If your pet hasn’t seen a vet within six months of signing up for a policy, you will have to have one within 30 days of the policy starting and will need a vet certificate stating that your dog has been symptom-free for 12 months for it to be considered cured under the policy conditions.
Pet needs a recent vet examination at the start of a policy
6. Nationwide Pet Insurance
Nationwide Pet Insurance offers policies for dogs and cats and also for birds and exotic pets. While most pet insurance companies offer policies for dogs and cats, it is more unusual to get coverage for birds and exotics.
Their symptom-free waiting period for pre-existing conditions is 6 months, which means it is among the best. And it has a low reimbursement option of just 50%, which can provide a good way of keeping policy costs down, although it does mean you will be liable for a greater portion of vet payments if required.
There is only one deductible option of $250, and there are incident or condition limits, which can be restrictive if your pet does suffer an ongoing condition. You do get access to a 24/7 vet helpline. Only once registered, however, which can be very useful if you have any urgent questions and need to determine whether to see a vet.
7. Hartville Pet Insurance
Hartville Pet Insurance is another pet insurance company that covers pre-existing conditions after 180 days of being treatment free. They offer reimbursement levels of 70%, 80%, or 90%, and deductibles of $100, $250, or $500.
Annual limits can be set between $5,000 and unlimited. There is no maximum age limit for new pet enrolments, either, and hereditary and congenital conditions as well as alternative therapies. They will even pay the vet directly so that you won’t be out of pocket, other than for the portion of the bill that you’re liable for.
While the company does offer good coverage and decent options to customize an insurance policy to your requirements, their policies can prove expensive. Although alternative therapies are included, herbal supplements are not included as part of the plan.
8. Pumpkin Pet Insurance
Pumpkin Pet Insurance offers policies that include coverage of pre-existing conditions after a 180-day symptom-free period. They cover advanced and alternative treatments that are recommended by a vet and performed by a licensed professional and their policies have no upper age limit.
As well as covering cured conditions, Pumpkin Pet Insurance also has just a 14-day waiting period for all conditions, which includes conditions like hip dysplasia. Most insurance companies have a 6-month waiting period for this kind of condition. They do cover hereditary and congenital conditions and will even cover the cost of some behavioral issues.
However, prices are quite high and the company’s policies only come with a 90% reimbursement level. You can’t increase or decrease this, which is quite limiting compared to other insurers.
9. Figo Pet Insurance
Figo Pet Insurance has a symptom-free waiting period of 12 months. While this isn’t as good as some, it is better than those that don’t cover pre-existing conditions at all. Figo policies are highly respected in general, so if your pet has been free from any symptoms for 12 months or more, their policies are worth consideration. However, Figo also doesn’t cover hereditary conditions if your pet is signed up after its second birthday, so owners of some breeds may want to look elsewhere.
There are a few policies available with annual limits ranging up to unlimited, reimbursement levels between 70% and up to 100%, and deductibles from $100 to $1,500. One thing to be aware of is that certain costs are not covered as standard, so you will need to pay an extra rider to include vet examination fees, for example, and this can see your policy cost add up. Policyholders do get access to a free 24/7 vet helpline, which can prove invaluable.
10. Embrace Pet Insurance
Embrace is another pet insurance policy that covers existing conditions only after a pet has been symptom-free for a year. You can cover cats or dogs and there is no upper age limit for enrollment, although pets of 15 years or older can only get accident-only policies.
Congenital and hereditary conditions are covered, and you don’t have to pay any extra for the coverage. As well as being reasonably priced, Embrace Pet Insurance also knocks money off your annual payments if you don’t make any claims against your policy.
The maximum annual limit is $30,000, which is high, but there is no unlimited option. Deductibles range from $200 to $1,000, which is a decent range but some insurers will go a little lower than $200, and some offer higher deductible options too. Reimbursement options include 70%, 80%, or 90%, so there is no 100% reimbursement.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Pet Insurance Provider for Pre-Existing Conditions
What to Look for in Pet Insurance (for Cats, Older Dogs, Etc.)
Pet insurance ensures that you have the finance available to cover unexpected vet and treatment costs if your pet gets sick or suffers an unexpected injury. When rating and reviewing insurance plans, we considered the following criteria to help us find the 10 best policies.
Most insurance companies cover cats and dogs. Some protect horses, some cover birds, and a rare few offer protection for exotics. Ensure that the company you are considering will insure the type of pet you have. You will also have to choose between accident-only and accident and illness policies. If you’re shopping for a policy for pre-existing conditions, you likely need an accident and illness policy.
The most important element of coverage for pre-existing conditions is whether an insurance policy covers these conditions. No insurance company offers full protection for pre-existing conditions, but some will cover what they consider curable conditions as long as the pet has been symptom-free for a given period. This period is usually between 6 and 12 months.
Also, consider whether a policy covers congenital and hereditary conditions. Some breeds are susceptible to these and conditions like hip dysplasia can carry high costs.
Check that the policy you choose offers appropriate annual, lifetime, and per-condition limits and that you can get the deductible and reimbursement levels that you require.
Finally, while some policies will cover all viable forms of treatment, others do not cover the costs of treatments like acupuncture or massage therapy. Some may not even include examination fees, and some charge an additional fee to include them, so always check the quote or policy details to ensure that it covers what you need it to cover.
Customer Service & Reputation
Customer service is important with pet insurance. Hopefully, you will never have to make a claim, but you will likely need to claim at some point.
When doing so, unless you are using an app or the company’s claim website, you will need to deal with a customer service representative. And, if you have any questions, you will want quick and reliable answers. The best way to determine customer service and reputation is to look at review sites and consider reviews from other policyholders.
It doesn’t matter what a company claims to cover if they routinely reject claims. Most pet insurance companies have payout rates above 90%, with some reaching 95% or higher.
There are genuine cases where insurance companies should not have to pay out because the policy does not cover a particular treatment or a certain type of illness. Otherwise, you want to know that your claim will be successful and that the money will be paid to you or directly to your vet promptly.
Price Of Policy
In an ideal world, money would be no object when choosing insurance policies, whether they are for car insurance or pet insurance. However, if your pet insurance costs are too high, it may make the policy unviable and unbeneficial.
If you’re paying exorbitant policy fees, it could actually work out cheaper to do without insurance. With that said, you should avoid simply opting for the lowest-cost policy just because it saves you a few dollars a month. It may not offer the kind of protection that you require.
There are several ways that insurance policies can be customized, but different insurers allow for different levels and customization options. In most cases, you can customize the level of coverage, limits per annum, over the lifetime of the policy, and per incident. You may also be able to customize the size of the deductible you pay before your insurance kicks in, and the reimbursement level which is the amount of the bill that your insurance company covers.
Increasing your deductible and reducing your reimbursement level can help bring the cost of a policy down, but it means that you will be liable to pay more if your pet does get ill or is involved in an accident and requires veterinary treatment.
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is an illness or condition that was diagnosed before a policy starts or, in most cases, is diagnosed before the waiting period of a policy ends. Generally, pre-existing conditions include any illnesses where symptoms have shown and been investigated but a diagnosis has not been given.
How Do Insurers Know of Pre-Existing Conditions?
Insurers use your pet’s medical records to determine what a pre-existing condition is. In some cases, they may look at previous records to determine whether your pet has presented with any symptoms that might point to a condition that you are claiming. Some insurers may require that your pet had a veterinary examination just before the commencement of a policy, or they may require that they undergo one within the waiting period of the policy.
What if a Condition Was Not Diagnosed Before a Policy Started?
Most insurers’ conditions state that if your pet showed symptoms of a condition before the policy started, this counts as a pre-existing condition even if the condition has yet to be diagnosed.
Which Pet Insurance Provider Is Best for You?
There is no single pet insurance policy that is ideal for all pets. If you are looking for a policy that covers pre-existing conditions, you should first consider how long your pet has been symptom-free and the type of condition it is. Ensure that the policies you are considering will cover that illness and how long the symptom-free period is before they do so.
Most policies require that your pet be symptom-free for between 6 and 12 months before they will cover it. Once you have a list of those policies that meet these criteria, you can look at other coverage levels, what types of treatment are covered, and the annual limits and deductible requirements to get the policy that best meets your needs
Pet insurance really can be a lifesaver and it takes a lot of stress out of already difficult situations. But, if your pet has a pre-existing condition, your options are limited. In some cases, you may not have any opinions available to cover that particular condition, although you can still take out insurance to cover any further illnesses and requirements. There are veterinary discount schemes, too, that can help you save money on treatment, at least.
We found the ASPCA’s policy, with a 180-day symptom-free period, to be a great choice for pre-existing conditions. Alternatively, if you are offered Pet Assure coverage by an employer and you want a way to save the ongoing costs associated with vet visits and treatment, this is also a very beneficial alternative.
Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock