Understanding Pet Insurance: Pre-Existing Conditions

| Mary Bays

Pet insurance can be confusing. Pre-existing conditions are one of the main reasons a claim could be denied - but what are they? Get your questions answered here!

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Understanding the basics of pet insurance can ensure you choose a provider who does their best to support the well-being of your pet. While many people have heard the phrase “pre-existing conditions” before, not everyone fully understands how such conditions may affect a pet insurance policy’s coverage.

What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?

The definition of a pre-existing condition is “any illness or injury that occurred, reoccurred, existed, or showed symptoms, whether or not diagnosed by a veterinarian, prior to the pet’s original start date, prior to the coverage period, or during the waiting period of a pet health insurance policy.”

Insurance definitions can be confusing, so let’s break that wordy definition down. If your dog is showing symptoms of an injury or illness before you’ve enrolled in a pet insurance policy and the required waiting periods have ended, then the condition will be considered pre-existing. Conditions that are present at birth (congenital conditions) are also considered pre-existing. If your pet has a condition or symptoms that are secondary to a condition that was considered pre-existing by your pet insurance company, those secondary conditions will likely also be considered pre-existing.

Do Any Pet Insurance Companies Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?

Most providers won’t offer reimbursement for any pre-existing conditions. Policyholders are solely responsible for covering costs associated with injuries and health conditions that show symptoms before a policy takes effect.

Some providers cover curable pre-existing conditions. If your pet is sick with a temporary illness like an ear infection or diarrhea, you won’t be covered until after symptoms subside and a certain period of time elapses.

AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) offers coverage for a variety of eligible curable and incurable pre-existing conditions after 365 days of continuous coverage (in all U.S. states except FL and WA). Click here for a quote.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ear Infections

  • GI Issues

  • Upper Respiratory Infections

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes*

  • Arthritis*

  • Heart Disease*

*****With optional Hereditary add-on coverage.

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How Are Waiting Periods and Pre-Existing Conditions Related?

Waiting periods are a set period of time required by a pet insurance provider before conditions become eligible for coverage. Pet insurance companies require a waiting period to help ensure that new policyholders are not enrolling their pets because the animals are already sick or injured.

If your pet becomes ill or injured before enrolling in a pet insurance policy or during the policy’s waiting period for that condition, it may not be eligible for coverage as it is considered pre-existing. When choosing your pet insurance provider, compare waiting periods and pre-exisiting condition coverage to determine which company is right for you and your pet.

Should I Still Get Pet Insurance If My Pet Has a Pre-Existing Condition?

Yes! Even if your pet has certain pre-existing conditions that aren't covered by any insurance provider, you can still receive coverage for new illnesses or injuries. You can also enroll in wellness coverage to provide reimbursement for preventative care to help keep your dog in top shape.

Helpful Tips:

Enroll Early

The best thing to do to reduce conditions that are considered pre-existing is to enroll your dog or cat in a policy as soon as you bring them home. The younger a pet is, the less medical history they will have that might result in a condition being considered pre-existing.

Know Your Insurance Provider’s Definition of “Pre-Existing"

Every insurance provider has their own definition of pre-existing. Read the terms and conditions when you enroll in a pet insurance policy to ensure you avoid surprises. Insurers are also required to make their terms and conditions available on their websites, so you can review them prior to purchasing a policy.

Know the Waiting Periods

Every pet insurance provider has different waiting periods. Review the terms and conditions to ensure you know the waiting periods for the conditions you are concerned about before enrolling in a pet insurance policy.

Avoid Gaps in Coverage

Don’t allow for gaps in your pet insurance coverage! Often, conditions covered under a previous policy will be considered pre-existing should you have a gap in coverage and start a new policy.

Call Customer Service

If you have any questions, contact your pet insurance provider’s customer care team! Customer care representatives are always happy to answer questions to avoid future confusion. Keep in mind, customer care representatives can provide you with helpful information, but they cannot guarantee that a claim will be paid.

Photo of a woman holding her dog

Every Dog and Cat Deserves the Pet Insurance of Champions

Get prize-winning care for your pets.

Mary Bays

Mary comes to AKC Pet Insurance with an extensive background in animal care. As a lifelong animal lover, she has a passion for promoting pet health and wellness. Mary lives in Kentucky with her orange kitty, "Cat" and her dog, " Wubbi".


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