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Pet Insurance and Pre-Existing Conditions

Even a comprehensive pet insurance policy won’t cover everything. Read on to learn about which types of pre-existing conditions typically won’t qualify for insurance coverage.


Written by Animalia Team

dog and cat with pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing conditions are a big deal in the world of human health insurance and they’re just as important when it comes to pets. Most conditions whose symptoms predate a policy’s start date won’t qualify for coverage. How can pet owners ensure they’re getting the best coverage possible and doing the most for their pet? By familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of pet insurance and learning more about what qualifies as a pre-existing condition. 

What are pet pre-existing conditions?

Pre-existing conditions are medical conditions that have already presented symptoms before the start date of your pet’s insurance policy. While most pet insurance policies don’t cover these conditions, it is still possible to insure dogs with health concerns. 

The first pet insurance policy in the United States was sold to famous canine television star Lassie

Curable pre-existing conditions

As a rule, pet insurance providers typically do not cover pre-existing conditions. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t purchase homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of fire damage after a fire occurs. Pet insurance providers follow a similar principle. If insurers allowed pet owners to enroll aged pets with serious health concerns, they’d never stay in business. 

Fortunately, many pet insurance providers (including Animalia) will cover pre-existing conditions designated as curable. Policy details vary, but a typical policy might hold that pets are covered for curable pre-existing conditions after 12 symptom-free months. 

Examples of curable conditions that your pet may suffer from include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Bladder infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Respiratory infections

Incurable pre-existing conditions

Even pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions will not cover incurable illnesses. These are conditions that aren’t likely to go away or improve over your pet’s lifetime. Pet insurance policies for dogs and cats with pre-existing conditions will not cover any treatment, tests, scans, or medication related to these illnesses.

dog being treated by the vet

Examples of incurable conditions that pet insurance won’t cover include:

  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Bladder crystals
  • Kidney disease
  • Urinary blockages

Remember, you’re still covered if you purchase a policy with the necessary coverage before your pet develops one of these conditions. You will not, for example, lose your pet’s coverage if they suddenly get cancer or develop arthritis in their old age. 

Hip dysplasia is especially common in some larger breeds including Great Danes and Saint Bernards.

Bilateral Exclusions

Bilateral conditions are medical conditions that occur on both sides of the body. Even the best and most comprehensive pet insurance for pre-existing conditions will usually not cover bilateral conditions. 

Here’s an example. Imagine your pet has a cruciate ligament injury in one knee and then, several years later, suffers an injury to the other knee. If, for example, your pet has a cruciate injury on one knee and then gets a cruciate injury on the other knee several years later, some providers may consider the second injury a pre-existing condition. Even if you purchased a policy prior to the second injury, there’s a chance you won’t be covered. Make sure to review any policy details related to bilateral conditions closely.  

Bilateral conditions that may be subject to exclusions include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cruciate injuries of the knee

Will insurance providers review my pet’s medical records?

Yes. Insurance providers will need to review your pet’s medical records and/or conduct a physical examination to rule out pre-existing conditions and determine their eligibility for coverage. 

How can I avoid pre-existing conditions?

Your best bet for avoiding a pre-existing condition and the related exclusions is to enroll your pet in insurance while they are young and healthy. Opt for pet insurance that balances comprehensive coverage with affordable payment terms. 

Enroll in pet insurance coverage today

A young, healthy pet is not only eligible for different types of plans of pet insurance, but you’ll probably pay less as well. Get a quote from Animalia today to learn more.


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