Why Doesn’t Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?

Dog gets examination at the vet.
Question: Why doesn’t pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions? My pet has chronic kidney disease which is very expensive, but none of the pet insurers will cover this condition.

Answer, by Dr. Jack Stephens, DVM, founder of pet insurance in the U.S. and President of Pets Best Insurance

Insurance is purchased to protect oneself against future unknown events that result in loss. In the case of car insurance, the loss could be in the form of a damaged vehicle. In the case of homeowners insurance, the loss could be in the form of a flooded basement. And in the case of pet insurance, the loss comes in the form of a pet needing veterinary care.

About the Insurance Pool

Pet health insurance works by insuring thousands of pets and pooling the premiums to take advantage of the law of large numbers: Not all pets will become need vet care during the year. Some will have no claims, while others will have large claims. Being insured – being part of this pool – means you’ll have help paying vet bills if you need it.

If a pet enters the insurance pool expecting a known medical condition to be covered, that’s a certain loss to the insurance company.  It would be like purchasing car insurance after an accident and expecting the company to pay to repair your car.

If pet insurance companies covered pre-existing medical problems, the cost would be much higher because everyone to wait until there was a known problem with their pet to buy insurance.

Exceptions to the Rule                                                                                                      

Most pet insurers will cover medical conditions your pet had before being insured, as long as they’ve been cured. Examples of conditions that can be cured, but may reoccur, include: ear infections, bladder infections, non specific GI upsets, some skin rashes and dermatitis. Waiting periods may exist to ensure the condition is fully cured before being eligible for coverage.

Defining Pre-Existing

Examples of conditions which cannot be cured and wouldn’t be covered if pre-existing include:  diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroid, hyperthyroid and arthritis.

Also, some conditions can be considered pre-existing even if you don’t know about them, and even if your pet hasn’t shown signs or symptoms. Cancer is a good example of a condition that can develop slowly over a long period of time, eventually requiring expensive treatment. That’s why it’s important to insure your pet as soon as possible. The sooner your pet is insured, the less likely he or she will be to develop a condition that won’t be covered.

Learn more about pet insurance and everything that IS covered at www.petsbest.com.


  • Robert Janusko

    All of our dogs have been rescues, with no carfax, no guarantee of perfect health, insured as soon as we bring them home. We are seniors who save lives, but we shouldn’t have to go broke for our compassion. What accommodations can you provide for pre-rescue, preexisting conditions?

    • Chryssa @ Pets Best

      Hi Robert, thanks for your comment. As mentioned in the article, some pre-existing conditions can be cured and eligible for coverage later. Conditions like an ear infection or broken leg shouldn’t prevent you from considering comprehensive Pets Best Insurance plans for your pets.

      If your rescue pets have a number of known conditions that aren’t curable, you may want to consider a veterinary discount program. While not insurance, a discount program can offer you a network of veterinarians who offer services at a discounted rate. Ask your veterinarian or do an online search to find one available in your state.

  • Josephine Testa

    I adopted a rescue and purchased Pets Best, best move next to adopting Chauncy I made. He had blood work due to neighbor giving him rancid meat. That is when I found out his liver enzyme was extremely high, thus far best best has paid every charge with a fast refund. It has been Chauncy’s life saver. This is the best company out there.

  • Harry

    When my dog was a puppy, I called my vet one time to talk to her about my dog’s sensitive stomach. In the same conversation, I told my vet that sometimes my dog seemed fearful and anxious.. so maybe she had anxiety. And that was the end of that.

    A few months later, we got pet insurance.. and our vet recommended we try putting our dog on anxiety medication because she saw her in person and agreed that she seemed anxious. Our pet insurance company (not Pets Best, unfortunately) wouldn’t cover the anxiety because they said it was a pre-existing condition because they had my vet records… and there was a note in there saying that I mentioned in a phone convo with my vet that maybe my dog had anxiety. I am not a vet.. so how could our pet insurance company suggest that ‘my diagnosis’ of the anxiety was a pre-existing condition? It was only a phone conversation, and my vet merely agreed with me.. yet she hadn’t even seen my dog!

  • gayle peters

    Well my cat was dx’d with Diabetes 2 weeks ago and he was on Insulin for a week but now is being monitored for diet controlled no Insulin. Why can’t insurance company’s have a policy that will cover the ongoing costs ? All the major stuff is out of the way and out of my pocket . You pretty much know what he will need . He has to be in rx special food the rest of his life and some blood sugar tests during the year . If I had known the dx before I certainly would have gotten insurance . I wish you had a another plan you would add for pre-existing really….

    • Hi Gayle, we’re sorry to hear about your cat’s diagnosis, but it sounds like you’re doing a great job keeping him as healthy as possible. Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by any pet insurance company, but pet insurance can still help with future accidents and illnesses, as long as they’re unrelated to the diabetes.


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