Hereditary and Congenital Health Issues

Before paying for pet insurance, find out if hereditary and congenital health issues are covered. These conditions include health defects present at birth and hereditary diseases that can strike at any time during your pet’s life. 

Hereditary Issues

Hereditary issues are pre-existing conditions that have either a suspected or proven genetic cause. Some of the more common occurrences of these health issues include things like polycystic kidneys in Persian cats, epileptic seizures in Beagles, or hip dysplasia in various types of larger dogs.

Ask for a list of the things that are not covered if you are thinking about getting a policy that does not cover hereditary conditions.

Warning: If a company cannot provide this information, then it may be wise to consider other alternatives if you are truly concerned about these types of issues.

Congenital Conditions

Also, ask the provider if congenital conditions are covered in any policy. These are health issues that your pet is born with, and they include things like liver shunts and heart defects.

Be careful during vet visits if your pet isn’t enrolled in pet insurance at the time of the visit. When you enroll in coverage, the company will request all previous vet records and your vet’s notes may disqualify your pet for coverage if those records show that the issue was present prior to your enrollment date. Once a condition is labeled as preexisting, the company will refuse to cover it and while a small percentage of customers have had success with lengthy appeals, most go nowhere.

For instance, if your poodle is examined by your vet and a heart murmur is diagnosed before you buy an insurance policy for this dog, then this condition (which the poodle has probably had since birth) will not be covered.

Alternatively, if you buy an insurance policy and this poodle is diagnosed a few years later with a liver shunt (which is a congenital condition), then you would be covered because the symptoms did not develop until after the insurance was acquired.

Getting pet insurance before your pet has any health problems is the only way to ensure that all future issues are covered, as long as they weren’t diagnosed by your vet before the starting date of your insurance coverage.


Many veterinarians consider insurance coverage for hereditary conditions to be an essential part of any comprehensive insurance policy because these kinds of conditions are more likely to be an issue with your pet.

Many vets may consider a problem to be hereditary or congenital while the insurance company does not. This is why it is important to buy the maximum amount of coverage provided in order to be as safe as possible if one of these unfortunate situations ever does develop.

Two Tips to remember when shopping for pet insurance that covers genetic health issues

  1. Before enrolling, ask your provider for a complete list of excluded health conditions
  2. Learn about payout limits. Are they per-condition, annual, lifetime?



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