Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions

Unfortunately, no insurance provider will offer 100% cover for existing medical conditions. But some providers do offer policies for historic conditions, with limitations. Here’s what you need to know.

Unfortunately, no insurance provider will offer 100% cover for existing medical conditions. But some providers do offer policies for historic conditions, with limitations. Here’s what you need to know.

Tom Harrison
Insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 5 NOVEMBER 2021

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is any medical issue that developed before you took out your pet’s insurance policy. There are two types:

Chronic conditions: sometimes cats and dogs have ongoing conditions, like diabetes, cancer or epilepsy. Pedigree dogs are particularly at risk of developing ongoing medical issues. For example, Labradors and German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia.

Historic conditions: illnesses or injuries your pet has had in the past, which it has now recovered from.

What’s considered a pre-existing condition may differ among insurance providers, so read your policy carefully.

Does my pet insurance cover me for pre-existing conditions?

Pet insurance policies typically won’t cover pre-existing conditions. Having said that, some do, but with exceptions. Polices fall into three groups:

  • Those that cover pre-existing conditions – as long as you haven’t claimed for that condition, or your pet hasn’t had symptoms of it, in a specified time period: often two years.
  • Those that cover pre-existing conditions – but with very limited cover.
  • Those that don’t cover pre-existing conditions at all.

To find out if your pet’s medical issue is covered, check your policy documents

Pet insurance for a pet with chronic conditions

Pet owners whose animal has a chronic condition – a medical condition that can’t be cured and requires ongoing treatment for life – will find it harder to get cover from a new insurance provider.

Examples of chronic conditions in cats and dogs include:

  • diabetes
  • arthritis
  • constipation
  • allergies
  • obesity
  • cancer
  • asthma
  • epilepsy

If your pet has a chronic condition that requires regular, expensive treatment, it’s unlikely you’ll find an insurance provider who’ll cover you. And if you did, the premiums would likely be through the roof. If the cost of treating your pet becomes a real issue for you, it’s worth contacting an animal charity like Blue Cross or the PDSA, who may be able to help.

Pet insurance for a pet with bilateral conditions

Bilateral conditions are those that affect both sides of the body, for instance, hip dysplasia or cruciate injuries. If hip dysplasia appears in one hip, it will probably count as a pre-existing condition if it later appears in the other. This could mean you’ll find it difficult to get cover for that condition in future.

Pet insurance for a pet with congenital conditions

Congenital conditions are those your pet was born with, which are likely passed down through their genes. These are more common in pedigree dogs and cats. Pugs, for example, are commonly born with stenotic nares (abnormally narrow nostrils), as well as other medical conditions.

Breeds like pugs, which are known to suffer with congenital conditions, are likely to be more expensive to insure over their lifetime. You may even find that many pet insurance providers refuse to cover you for these conditions.

Do I have to declare my pet’s conditions?

When you search for pet insurance, you’ll be asked questions about your pet, such as their breed, age and whether they’ve been microchipped. You’ll also be asked if your pet has any pre-existing conditions and whether you want cover for them.

It always pays to be honest in these situations – if you’re later found to have lied, it will invalidate your policy and you could find yourself landed with a hefty vet’s bill.

Does pet insurance increase over time?

If you take out a policy when your pet is young, you’ll probably find that your insurance provider starts to increase your premiums over time. Or you may find that they add additional limits, a higher excess or exclusions as your pet becomes susceptible to age-related conditions. Always check your level of cover with your insurance provider.

If your pet insurance premiums start to go up because of long-term illnesses, it can be tempting to cancel your cover. But this could be risky as medication and treatments can be extremely expensive, and you’ll end up covering the cost yourself.

How does pet insurance work?

Pet insurance covers conditions that develop after you take out your policy. But exactly how much your policy will cover you for depends on the policy limit. This is the maximum the policy will pay out. Policies can have a per condition limit, which is the most they’ll pay for a condition, and/or a yearly limit, which is the most they’ll pay over a year.

How long the condition is covered for depends on what type of cover you’ve taken out.

  • Accident-only policies cover you for accidents only. Illnesses and medical conditions aren’t covered.
  • Time limited policies cover a condition for up to 12 months from when it’s first diagnosed or until the policy limit is reached – whichever happens first. After that, you’re not covered for the condition, even if you renew the policy.
  • Maximum benefit policies cover accidents and illnesses up to a maximum amount per condition. Once you’ve reached that amount, you’re no longer covered for that particular condition even if you renew your policy.
  • Lifetime policies cover accidents, injuries and illnesses up to a certain amount, every year. Once that amount is used up, you can’t claim for that condition until you renew the policy and the limit resets.

Will pet insurance continue to cover an illness if I renew the policy?

Whether your policy continues to cover you for the same condition depends on the type of policy you’ve bought and its limits. If you’re not sure whether renewing your policy will cover you for an existing illness, check with your insurance provider.

My pet has a pre-existing condition. How can I lower the cost of my insurance?

If your pet has a pre-existing condition, you could potentially lower the cost of insurance by:

  • Shopping around for a provider that offers limited cover for pre-existing conditions
  • Switching to a new policy without cover for pre-existing conditions.

But you’ll need to be comfortable with having very limited or no cover for your pet’s condition. This could prove costly in the long run.

Can I get quotes for pre-existing conditions at Compare the Market?

Most policies we sell offer no cover for pre-existing conditions. However, if your pet hasn’t shown symptoms or received treatment for the condition for over two years, your comparison results may include quotes from Bought By Many. All its lifetime policies cover this definition of pre-existing conditions.

Start comparing to check out cover for your cat or dog.

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