Is There Pet Insurance That Covers Pre-Existing Conditions?

For new and longtime pet parents alike, one of the most important things to figure out is how you will cover vet bills. Good luck can mean those expenses are relatively affordable. But knocking on wood can’t help you pay in the unlucky event that you do have an emergency or another unexpected issue. Many pet owners look to pet insurance as an option to cover unforeseen medical expenses for furry, feathered, or scaled family members. This can be a great choice for many people, but you may be wondering what your options are for pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions.

The answer is somewhat complicated. It also requires an understanding of what you’re expecting your pet’s medical expenses to be over the course of your life together.

Average Cost of Veterinary Care

Let’s start with the cost of routine vet care. For just day-to-day issues and annual checkups, you’re looking at $700-$1500 a year. This will cover things like yearly vaccinations and other, similar procedures. In the event of an emergency visit, that cost can skyrocket to $3000, $5000, or even $10,000.

Needless to say, while these events are less common, they are more of a financial hardship. It can be hard to gauge if you can afford a pet at all when you’re stuck thinking about what-ifs. Likewise, it can be tempting to simply hope for the best. After all, we try to be as careful as possible with every member of our family.

When you first get a pet, it’s recommended that you have money set aside for the first year of checkups and vaccinations, along with some extra just in case. Most experts recommend having at least $1500 to $5000 as an emergency fund to cover any sudden costs.

When examining these costs, pet insurance starts to seem a lot more cost effective. Full coverage for dogs and cats runs between $600 and $300, and accident-only coverage can be as low as $200 and $130 for a whole year. It may be possible to see how pet insurance has its benefits compared to being on the hook for that full $10,000.

The Bad News: No Pet Insurance Plan Covers Pre-Existing Conditions

This is where we come bearing a little bit of bad news. It turns out no pet insurance covers pre-existing conditions. They won’t generally reject your pet altogether, but if you have a known issue, you’ll be hard pressed to get support that covers it. There are some exceptions that we’ll get into next, but it will be important to understand that going forward.

That doesn’t mean that pet insurance is not worthwhile, however! Especially if you are only paying for what you need. Most pet insurance companies offer catastrophic-type plans, which are low cost and can help support you in the event that your pet requires an expensive treatment for a new condition.

The Good News: Some Pet Insurance Companies Distinguish Between Conditions

Not all is hopeless if your pet has an issue going into your insurance purchase. Some pet insurance providers such as the ASCPA and Embrace, distinguish between curable and incurable medical conditions. For example, if your pet experiences a respiratory issue, receives treatment, and goes between 12 months (Embrace) and 180 days (ASPCA) without symptoms, they will cover you for recurring issues going forward.

You should always check the language of your contract, but it is an important distinction. If you’ve had a little bit of bad luck in your first year of pet ownership—or just a bit of bad luck before making the decision to purchase pet insurance—plans like these may be your best bet for giving your pet coverage going forward.

Value Is Vital

When considering pet insurance, it’s important to take into account what might happen. We don’t want to be paranoid—worrying about our pets can end up driving our own healthcare costs up from stress. But it is important to ask yourself about worst-case scenarios. Can you afford an extra $200 a year? Can you also afford a sudden $10,000 expense?

Insurance is always about paying for a safety net. While pet insurance is an extra annual expense, it can ultimately make pet ownership more affordable for more people.

If you’re researching pet insurance, we recommend checking out our article on finding the right plan for your pet.