Finding a pet insurance plan that covers an animal with a pre-existing condition can be as overwhelming as finding home insurance on a floodplain. Many insurance companies refuse to cover pets with a pre-existing injury, illness or irregularity. The best time to buy coverage is early in a pet’s life, before the onset of any health problems, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it after a condition has arisen. In fact, there is coverage on the market for a variety of dogs from puppies to seniors, and even pups with pre-existing conditions, which can help you manage the cost of care for your best friend and give him the treatment he deserves no matter what life throws his way.
Pet Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions
Posted by Billy Francis
What is a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is an injury, illness or irregularity that your pet already suffers from at the time you sign up for a pet insurance policy. This can be anything from allergies to heart disease. Even conditions that have not been diagnosed at the time of enrollment can be considered pre-existing if the dog had signs of an issue in the past. Most pet insurance companies put pre-existing conditions into two categories: curable and incurable. Curable Conditions are generally ailments that a pet has experienced in the past but have not recurred in the past six months to one year. Incurable Conditions include diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other more serious illnesses.
Pay close attention to policy exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies will often cover curable pre-existing conditions but not incurable conditions. If you are unfamiliar with pet insurance lingo, check out our Pet Insurance 101 guide.
Why Pet Insurance is Important for Dogs with Pre-Existing Conditions
Most dog owners go to great lengths to make sure their best friend makes it through a period of illness. Unfortunately, this can mean both emotional and financial distress. If you’ve drained your savings in the past when your pet developed an unexpected condition and want to protect yourself against further financial loss later in your pet’s life, taking out a pet insurance policy gives you the option to pay out a smaller amount monthly to prevent a big payout later on. While most insurance companies won’t cover a specific pre-existing condition that has occurred before the policy is purchased, many companies like ASPCA Pet Insurance will offer policies that protect your pet against other accidents and illnesses. Or, if your pet remains symptom-free for a length of time (180 days for Spot; 365 days for AKC Pet Insurance), then they may be able to get coverage for curable pre-existing conditions.
How Much Will Pet Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions cost?
Premiums can range from as little as $10 per month to more than $100 per month. Policies with higher premiums usually have more extensive coverage. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association’s (NAPHIA) State of the Industry Report states that the average monthly cost of pet insurance premiums in the U.S. is just under $50, but owners with pets that suffer from pre-existing conditions can expect to spend significantly more, especially as their pet ages.
What to Consider When Getting Insurance for Pets with Pre-Existing Conditions
Each insurance policy is different and reading the small print is even more important when pre-existing conditions are involved. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’ve addressed the following concerns:
Act Fast: You never know when an illness, accident or health condition may occur. So, insuring your pet early can save you money down the road and reduce your risk of having to pay an astronomical vet bill or higher rates.
Coverage: Read the fine print when shopping for policies. Some insurance companies don’t cover hereditary conditions, which often manifest later in a pup’s life, and most insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions at all. Even if your pet is offered coverage, make sure to check if the pre-existing condition is covered or if the policy only covers other accidents or illnesses.
*Price: *Regardless of which plan you choose, policyholders will be responsible for paying a monthly bill (premium), co-payments at the vet’s office, and a deductible (the amount you pay out of pocket before coverage begins). While premiums and deductibles may be higher for senior dogs, a review of your options will allow you to select a plan that works within your budget and also offers life-saving and life-extending care for your best friend.
Insurance Policies Tailored for Pre-Existing Conditions
Dog owners with pets who have pre-existing conditions will want to find the best coverage possible to protect their best friend and make sure they receive great care no matter what. If you’re concerned that your pet may already have pre-existing conditions that won't be covered by an insurer, sign up with Embrace, one of the few companies that offer coverage for certain "curable" pre-existing ailments after a 12-month exclusion period. AKC Pet Insurance also offers pre-existing coverage once your pet has had continuous coverage with them for 365 days. Pawp is a less expensive alternative to regular pet insurance. Members pay a flat monthly fee for dogs of any age, breed, or medical history, with no deductibles or copays. Membership gives you access to the Pawp Emergency Fund, which covers one life-threatening emergency up to $3,000 per year, even for a pre-existing condition. For alternative coverage that will help you cover costs in an emergency, check out Pet Assure. This veterinary discount plan offers you savings on vet care for all types of conditions, including pre-existing.
For more coverage options, check out BringFido’s pet insurance page.
Do you have pet insurance for your best friend? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!
Banner photo by VCA California Veterinary Specialists - Murrieta.