Most pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. However, according to NimbleFins pet owners wanting to switch insurers or buy coverage for the first time are not without options, even if their pet has a pre-existing condition. Pet owners in this situation should have a thorough understanding of what counts as a pre-existing condition as well as the options available in the marketplace.
What counts as a pre-existing condition for pet insurance?
The definition of pre-existing condition for pet insurance varies from one insurer to the next. There is no one universal definition of ‘pre-existing condition’ for pet insurance. That means a pet owner must read the fine print of a policy to understand if any previous afflictions will be considered as pre-existing or not.
A company’s individual definition of ‘pre-existing’ should be located in the policy wording for a policy or the terms and conditions. It’s often possible to find the policy wording online on a company’s website. Policy wordings on company websites can typically be found in one of two ways. Firstly, look around the pet insurance company website for policy wordings. Sometimes there is a link to these documents in the footer of the webpage. Other times it takes a bit of searching.
Alternatively, it is often possible to find a pet insurance policy wording by Googling for the name of the pet insurance company, the name of the plan (e.g. ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, etc.) and ‘policy wording’ or ‘terms and conditions’. However, sometimes this method of searching can pull up older, out-of-date policy wordings.
Small language differences can mean that what counts as a pre-existing condition for one insurer would not count as one for another insurer. That said, there is some common language you’ll find across pet insurance companies. The terminology may differ, but oftentimes it has the same impact on pet owners. Here are some samples of language regarding what is classed as a pre-existing condition from some popular pet insurance companies.
Petplan doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. (However, if a pet develops a new illness or injury after the owner has taken out a policy, they cover for that for the rest of the pet’s life as long as the policy is renewed each policy year.) Petplan’s terms and conditions state that a pre-existing condition is any injury or illness that happened or first showed clinical signs before your pet’s cover started or the section was added to your insurance.
– Any injury or illness that has the same diagnosis as an injury, illness or clinical sign your pet had before your pet’s cover started or the section was added to your insurance.
– Any injury or illness that has the same clinical signs as an injury, illness or clinical sign your pet had before your pet’s cover started or the section was added to your insurance.
– Any injury or illness that is caused by, relates to, or results from, an injury, illness or clinical sign your pet had before your pet’s cover started or the section was added to your insurance.
Note that injuries or illnesses that present in the same or different parts of a pet’s body (known as a bilateral condition) are classed as pre-existing and therefore not covered by Petplan. Also, there wouldn’t be cover if the pet owner knew, when starting cover for their pet, that they would need to claim due to a clinical sign, injury or illness.
Other companies define pre-existing differently or use slightly different terms. For example, some policies mention symptoms (e.g. clinical signs) or vet consultations.
Can I get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions?
Yes, it is possible to get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions from these four companies in the UK: Scratch & Patch, Bought by Many, Lifetime Pet Cover and VetsMediCover. However, each of these companies covers pre-existing conditions differently.
Lifetime Pet Cover, Bought by Many and VetsMediCover essentially cover previous medical issues so long as the pet has been healthy (that is, symptom and treatment free with no long-term effects) for more than two years.
Bought by Many also has a plan specifically for covering pre-existing conditions that covers £500 of vet treatments for all pre-existing conditions in the first year of a policy, a figure which increases to £1,000 in the second year and £7,000 in the third year if no claims are made.
Scratch & Patch’s Champ products work slightly differently, in that pet owners use an online approval system and may get cover for a pre-existing condition from the start of cover on the policy. Pet owners may need to pay a co-pay that is a percentage of any vet bills should they claim on an approved pre-existing condition.