what you should Know

Pet insurance companies can (and do!) deny coverage.

Key points

  • The insurance does not cover ongoing and pre-existing conditions.
  • Some insurers cover treatable conditions such as infections, diarrhea and vomiting. Pets should be symptom-free for one or two years.
  • You can still buy sick pet insurance.

So you are a pet owner and your pet has a medical condition. You want insurance to pay for their treatment, but you’re facing a problem: Most insurers don’t cover sick pets. Specifically, they don’t help you pay for medical problems your pet’s vet has already diagnosed.

You are not alone. According to Pawlicy Advisor data, about one in 10 people looking for pet insurance have puppies with pre-existing conditions. Most can find insurance coverage, but will struggle to find insurers that will cover their pets’ pre-existing conditions.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet! There are exceptions to this seemingly ironclad rule. Here’s what you need to know.

Pet insurance does not cover ongoing medical conditions

If your pet has been diagnosed with a persistent illness, you probably won’t find an insurance policy that will cover it. Pet insurers don’t want to pay for expensive medical procedures. They can and often do deny coverage for a pre-existing medical condition.

If your pet is sick, you still have options. You can apply for Pet Assure membership, which gives you discounts on all medical procedures, even current ones. And you can buy a pet insurance policy that covers unrelated health issues.

In most cases, pet insurance policies do not cover illnesses that the pet is already experiencing. But in some cases, healthy pets can find coverage for their “cured” problems.

Some insurers cover “cured” medical conditions

Some pet insurers differentiate between treatable and non-treatable medical conditions. These companies can insure treatable medical conditions.

Conditions that are often considered treatable:

  • Infections
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

The best pet insurance for pre-existing conditions offers coverage for some pets without symptoms. If a qualifying pre-existing medical condition occurs, these insurers will help cover the costs.

What’s the catch?

Insurers that usually cover treatable conditions require pets to be symptom-free for one or two years. So if you want insurance to cover your pet for future vomiting episodes, you’ll need your pup to stop hanging out on the carpet for 12 to 24 consecutive months.

You should also expect your insurer to ask you for proof that your puppy or feline friend is healthy and cured. This means taking your pet to the vet for a medical exam.

What about incurable conditions?

If your pet has been diagnosed with incurable conditions such as allergies, arthritis, or hip dysplasia, insurers likely won’t cover treatment for these problems. To get insurance covering terminal illnesses, you need to purchase a pet policy before the veterinarian diagnoses your pet.

Should I buy sick pet insurance?

It depends on your goals. Some insurers will cover pets “cured” of previous conditions. If you think your pet may have a relapse, it may be worth looking into suitable pet policies.

If your pet is sick at the moment, insurance will not pay regardless of their condition. But you can still buy a policy to help cover unrelated things. To put it bluntly, you can still purchase insurance covering accidents or cancer treatment if your pet has chronic diarrhea.

Preventive pet insurance policies take things a step further; they help keep your pet from getting sick in the first place. They do this by covering the cost of routine care such as vaccinations, dental cleanings and regular blood tests. These are treatments and tests that make you and your pet happy.

Pet Health Savings Account

You can create an emergency fund for your pet. That way, you can pay unexpected medical bills without selling investments or taking out loans. Most pet insurance plans don’t cover 100% of vet bills, so an emergency fund can bridge that gap.

Deposit emergency savings into a high-yield savings account. This way, you will earn interest on the money saved. Consider setting up automatic deposits to save quickly, and make sure your bank allows you to withdraw your emergency funds at any time.

Bottom line: Know your budget

Pet insurance keeps pet costs predictable and some insurers cover some pre-existing conditions. Think about your budget and how far you will go to pay your pet’s medical bills. Decide early so you don’t have to choose between your bank account and your furry friend.

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