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Pre-Existing Conditions and Pet Insurance: What’s Covered

Getting pet insurance is a necessity for pet owners around the world, but it’s integral to take into consideration exactly what your policy covers to avoid surprises that can cost you thousands of pounds. One of the biggest things we get asked about is pre-existing conditions and how they can affect your policy. A beloved pet that has had a condition in the past can be eligible for insurance coverage, but it is integral that you realise what a policy will and will not cover. This knowledge allows you to make the right decision for you and your pet when choosing your pet insurance.

Lifetime Pet Cover's Buster the Beagle with a towel wrapped around his head

What is a pre-existing condition?

A common question we receive from pet owners when researching our pet insurance is what exactly is a pre-existing condition? A pre-existing condition is any illness, injury or condition that occurs or has symptoms manifest before the insurance policy’s start date. A crucial note to be aware of is that a condition does not need to be diagnosed by a vet to be classified as a pre-existing condition, instead sometimes it can be that your pet showed symptoms that are linked to a disease/condition.

However, if your pet has had a condition, or showed symptoms in the past, that does not mean the pet can never receive coverage. Firstly, whilst that condition may not be covered, it doesn’t affect your eligibility to claim for other, unrelated conditions. Secondly, some insurers, including Lifetime Pet Cover, will offer cover for pre-existing conditions under certain terms. For Lifetime Pet Cover policies, a condition will no longer be treated as pre-existing, and will therefore be eligible for cover, if:

With this in mind, when you are researching insurance providers, it is integral to speak to them and be honest about what treatment, conditions, and symptoms your pet has had so that you’re clear on whether or not a claim may be paid. This will help you decide on the best pet insurance for your pet and will reduce the risk of you being unexpectedly denied a claim for a veterinary bill.

What may be considered a pre-existing condition?

Essentially, any condition can be considered pre-existing but some of most common include:

A common issue pet owners run into, however, isn’t a diagnosis. Instead, it’s symptoms. For example, let’s say you take your dog to the vet because of excessive vomiting. You don’t receive a diagnosis and later you decide to get pet insurance. A few months after your policy starts, your dog starts vomiting again and this time you find out the dog has stomach cancer. Though it wasn’t spotted by your vet before, the vomiting your pet experienced a few months ago will be treated as an early sign of the stomach cancer that has now been diagnosed. In this scenario, stomach cancer would then be treated as a pre-existing condition and it is very likely that all claims related to that will be denied.

Another scenario may be a visit to the vet for excessive feet licking. Although this may seem like a relatively normal tick, it can be a sign of allergies. If this symptom appeared before you started your insurance policy, treatment for allergies will likely not included in your cover.

In short, symptoms show an animal is suffering from a condition, and these conditions will rightfully be considered pre-existing and therefore excluded from cover.

Sick dog wrapped in a blanket

Common symptoms that may result in a condition being treated as pre-existing include:

The main thing to keep in mind when looking at pet insurance is that even a pet with a health condition can receive coverage from an insurance policy, it just won’t provide cover for the pre-existing condition. Remember, symptoms are proof that a condition exists, so it is integral you’re honest about what your pet has exhibited so you’re not hit with a large and unexpected veterinary bill.

What to consider when switching insurance providers

You may be wondering what exactly pet insurance covers. It’s important to realise that, unless the insurers terms say otherwise, a pet insurance policy will only cover conditions, accidents, or illnesses that develop while under the policy. For example, you may purchase a policy for a dog that already has kidney stones and after starting the insurance policy, they develop arthritis. If the arthritis is in no way related to the kidney stones, claims won’t get denied on the basis of a pre-existing condition, though it will still be subject to all other policy terms.

However, we sometimes see existing policy holders who receive a diagnosis, or their pet experiences symptoms, and want to change to a different insurance company. If you are considering this, it’s important you understand that the new insurance company is unlikely to cover costs related to any diagnosis or symptom that occurred prior to the start of a new policy. For this reason, before deciding on switching providers, it is a good idea to determine what a new policy will or won’t cover.

If you want to protect your pet with insurance that covers new conditions year on year, a lifetime policy may be the right choice for you. A lifetime pet insurance policy will offer you continued cover on any condition that comes up while the policy is in place, even after renewal. Switching providers may result in the pet not receiving veterinary care due to pre-existing conditions, therefore leading to large vet bills that the pet owner must find alternative funds for.

How do I know what my policy covers?

Your insurance policy documents will detail what is covered and what can be labelled as a pre-existing condition. If you ever question whether something will be covered or not, you can refer back to these documents or contact your insurer provider directly to reduce the risk of a claim being unexpectedly declined

Finding out that a condition isn’t covered can feel frustrating and owners may feel upset that their pet’s condition isn’t included in their cover, especially when they never received a formal diagnosis. If the condition is pre-existing, you could be left with a huge vet bill, or you may need to make a decision on your pet’s future. However, with proper knowledge on what will be covered by your pet’s insurance policy, you can make the best decision on a policy that meets your needs as well as know what to expect for vet bills in the future.

At Lifetime Pet Cover, we love pets, and we want their humans to know what to expect when looking for a new pet insurance policy, renew a policy, or if you’re considering switching providers. There’s nothing worse than filing a claim and seeing it denied unexpectedly. It’s certainly not a position we like pet owners to be in. We believe educating pet owners on pre-existing conditions may help more people make the right decision for their pet, ultimately meaning more pets can get the treatment they need.

To learn more about Lifetime Pet Cover, our pre-existing condition terms, and anything else related to our policies, contact us today on 020 3750 0022 or [email protected] and our multi-award winning team will be happy to help.

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