Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Written by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

Dr Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years experience in companion animal practice. In 1987 she graduated from the University of Glasgow, with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. A love of the sea meant accepting her first job in the port town of Portsmouth, England. A fter working in private practice for two years, her next position was as a vet at the People’...

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Reviewed by Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS
Veterinarian Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS

UPDATED: Sep 23, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

Pet Insurance U receives compensation from the third parties included on this site. This includes payment for clicks from our site to insurance providers’ sites and quote requests generated. Our rankings and reviews are not affected by payments from the insurance companies. The compensation we receive allows the site to be free and regularly updated. Our goal is to review every pet insurance provider, but not all companies are listed on the site.

And many of the companies we review do not pay us anything. We simply rate, compare and review their plan because we feel it will be valuable to you. Our reviews are guaranteed to be unbiased, professional and advertising compensation does not influence rankings.

We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about pet insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything pet insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by pet insurance experts.

When you first enroll in a pet insurance policy, you will have to disclose any illness or condition that your pet might have whether it is something as simple as chronic allergies or something more serious like cancer or diabetes.

Pre Existing Conditions & Pet Insurance

All pet insurance companies will not cover your cat or dog for any pre-existing condition that your pet has developed when you sign up.

In fact, there is a waiting period before you are accepted into a pet insurance plan that is specifically for that reason; to make sure your pet does not have any condition that you haven’t yet disclosed.

How each pet insurance company defines a pre-existing condition varies from one to another.

One policy might define any illnesses that occurred 18 months before enrollment as pre-existing.

Another provider might define pre-existing conditions as injuries, illnesses, and irregularities noted by the vet before the waiting period expires.

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Conditions Or Illness That Are Considered Pre-Existing

brown dachshund at the vet having ears checked

If your dog or cat has a long-term illness such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heart Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney Diseases
  • Lipomas or skin lumps
  • Any other disease that needs consistent treatment

Any of these diseases that affect your dog or cat could be considered pre-existing. While some of these conditions could exclude your pet from getting approved for pet insurance, there are several companies that offer coverage with pre-existing conditions.

Respiratory infections

Any breathing condition or respiratory condition such as canine distemper, kennel cough, or any similar respiratory infection that affects the lungs or surrounding areas.

Hereditary Conditions

Some breeds like the boxer are prone to brachycephalic disease which affects their breathing and is and is an example of a pre-existing condition that is breed-specific.

There are many hereditary conditions that affect cats and dogs and could be classified as pre-existing if they appear when signing up for pet insurance.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

Orthopedic Conditions

Hip Dysplasia, as well as any orthopedic condition such as patellar luxation or a cruciate ligament injury in dogs, is considered pre-existing.

In fact, with some providers, if your dog has hip dysplasia which is considered a bilateral condition, the other hip will generally not be covered.

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PetFirst saved his parents


A happy energetic Luna one morning couldn’t hold her food down. After months of multiple costly vet visits to specialists and an endoscopy, the problem was discovered and fixed. Luna put 22 pounds back on in no time and her parents were grateful for having PetFirst by their side to pay the bills.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections or any disease that affects the surrounding areas which include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra are considered pre-existing.

Urinary tract infections can also lead to Cushing’s disease in dogs and FIV in cats, as well as many other long-term diseases.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea tend to be short term illnesses in your dogs or cats and clear up on their own.

However, if they are long term, this can be indicative of an illness that needs consistent medication and/or treatment.

Pre-existing Curable Conditions

These are generally defined as an existing condition that can be completely cured or reserved.

If your dog or cat is symptom-free for the specific condition, they can receive coverage for that condition.

The time frame is usually 12 months.

Vomiting, diarrhea and some urinary infections can be curable and then eventually covered.

Healthy Paws and Figo both allow most curable conditions to be covered.

Pre-existing Conditions with No Cure

The health conditions that disqualify pets from an insurance policy are usually those that have no cure. The most common ones include:

  • Cancer
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Allergies
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Skin lumps
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary blockages

Even some orthopedic condition including but not limited to luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and orthopedic illness or injury on the opposite side of a prior injury might not be covered for your dog or cat.

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Why Pet Insurance Companies Don’t Cover Pre-existing Conditions

Since insurance is designed to cover emergencies and the unexpected, most companies won’t cover anything that’s already affecting your pet. Even if your dog ruptured a cruciate ligament on one side of his body, it could be considered a bilateral condition if it develops on the other side.

Therefore, it won’t be covered.

Additionally, plans with a 12-month coverage will reset pre-existing conditions upon policy renewal, in order to exclude any ongoing, recurring or chronic illness (but new ailments will be covered).

Insurance policies are mostly for the “what if” and not “what exists” similar to a home or car insurance.

Exceptions To Pre-Existing Conditions

Pet insurance providers can adjust their policies as necessary to fit your needs.

It’s possible to get your pet’s pre-existing health issues included in their policy, but it is up to the pet insurance company.

The best way to do this would be to call the pet insurance provider directly to negotiate.

Now you can see the importance of getting your pet insured before any pre-existing condition occurs and while they are young.

Always take a good look at your policy and understand it thoroughly to see what is and is not covered.

Our primer on how pet insurance works can also give you an overall picture of what to look out for.

Most pet insurance companies require you to see the vet at least a few months within signing up.

It’s always a good idea to do so prior, so your vet can assess if there are any conditions or illnesses for you to be aware of or consider when signing up which might be deemed pre-existing.

Take a look at our company comparison chart where you can compare other important limits and exclusions between top pet insurance companies.

Top Providers that Might Cover Some Pre-existing Conditions

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Healthy Paws offers policies with no restrictions for hereditary or congenital conditions, including cancer.  They also cover emergency care, hospital stays, and surgeries.  And their waiting period for injury and illness coverage is only 15 days.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace clearly states that it does not cover pre-existing conditions, although there are some pre-existing conditions it can cover at its discretion.  Embrace is one of the few companies that distinguish between curable and incurable pre-existing conditions.

Incurable pre-existing conditions typically require lifelong care. Curable pre-existing conditions are those that can be completely resolved. Curable pre-existing conditions could be covered moving forward if the pet goes 12 months symptom-free.

Petfirst Pet Insurance

Petfirst offers accident and illness coverage that is pretty much industry standard for the price. However, what sets them apart is they have no waiting periods for hip dysplasia, patella luxations or orthopedic conditions which is great for pets that are a little older.

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Lastly, Pre-Existing Conditions and Pet Insurance

The best way of knowing how a company deals with pre-existing conditions is to go through its policy carefully with the help of a member of their team before enrolling. Most insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions and those that do, will only do so under their most expensive covers.

As always, the best time to insure your pet is when they are younger before any pre-existing condition has started!  If you need to learn more about pet insurance, take a look at our guide that gives you a thorough explanation.

Other articles you may find helpful: 


Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


Pet insurance is similar to other insurances but does have some major differences as compared to your health insurance. Below you will find a definitive list of frequently asked pet insurance questions to help in your decision.


What is Pet Insurance

Types of Pet Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive Pet Insurance Explained

Accident Only Pet Insurance

Pet Wellness Plans

Insurance vs. Wellness Pet Insurance Plans

Is Pet Dental Insurance Worth the Extra Cost

How does Pet Insurance work

Best Pet Insurance Plans with Shortest Waiting Periods

Pet Insurance Deductibles

Pet Insurance Coverage Exclusions and Limits

Pet Insurance Reimbursements

Pet Insurance Benefit Limits Explained

How to Make a Claim on your Pet Insurance

Is my Pet too Old for Pet Insurance Coverage

Top Reasons to Purchase Pet Insurance

How much does Pet Insurance Cost

Is Pet Insurance Worth It

Compare Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance for Multiple Pets

Pet Insurance that Covers Spaying and Neutering

Does Pet Insurance Cover Shots

Pet Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


Artemis was a beautiful and friendly cat to all who were willing to pet him. Unfortunately, he developed feline diabetes which required regular vet visits and medications that his Mother could not otherwise afford on her fixed income. Having PetFirst insurance, she called and discussed the problem with a friendly PetFirst agent. To her surprise, she found out that Artemis’ ongoing required vet visits and medication would be covered by his PetFirst insurance. Artemis was able to live out the rest of his life with proper medical care and medicines thanks to PetFirst insurance.