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How pre-existing conditions affect your pet insurance

  • 1, Jun 2022
  • Read time: 13 mins

Your pet's pre-existing condition might impact your pet policy and what you may or may not be covered for. Sadly, most of us don’t have a crystal ball. But fear not. This guide will try to answer your questions so you have better peace of mind when it comes to looking after your furry friend.

We know that veterinary care can be costly, running into thousands of pounds. Luckily, our pet insurance is designed to cover some of the things you don’t see coming. Still, it’s really important to consider illnesses or injuries your pet may have had before insuring them to avoid any nasty shocks if you ever want to make a claim. Insurers may not check this when you purchase your policy. If you're looking to get cover for future issues related to your pet's pre-existing condition, make sure to reach out to an insurer.

Dog receiving treatment from a vet.

What is a pre-existing condition?

Insurers often have their own definition for a pre-existing condition. For example, at MORE THAN we class it as any of the following health issues, concerns, illnesses and injuries that you or your vet were aware of, have had treated, or noticed symptoms of before taking out your cover:

  • Signs or symptoms of diagnosed or undiagnosed injuries or illnesses
  • Existing illnesses or injuries
  • Existing physical abnormalities
  • Existing illnesses, injuries or physical abnormalities which lead to other health issues
  • Illnesses or injuries which are medically linked to existing illnesses, injuries or physical abnormalities.

We also consider these to be pre-existing:

  • Treatment of cruciate ligaments in the second leg if one leg has shown signs, been diagnosed or been treated for cruciate ligaments
  • Treatment of spinal disc problems if any disc has shown signs, been diagnosed or been treated for spinal disc problems.

You can still take out Accident Only, Basic, Classic or Premier cover with us if your pet has a pre-existing illness or is getting treatment after an accident, but that won’t be covered under your policy. Remember, your pet will be insured but you won't be covered for any illnesses or cruciate ligament problems in the first 14 days of the policy start date, or for accidents in the first 48 hours of the policy start date.

View your pet policy documents online.

Can I insure my pet if they have a pre-existing condition?

Yes, you can still get pet insurance with us but pre-existing conditions won’t be covered by any of our cover levels. These are health issues, concerns, illnesses and injuries which you or your vet were aware of before you took out your pet policy.

The same also applies to any pre-existing conditions that your pet is no longer receiving treatment for, as we'll always consider it to be pre-existing, no matter how long ago the issue occured. This means it won't be ever covered throughout the entirety of your policy if you decide to insure with us.

How do pet insurance companies know about pre-existing conditions?

A pre-existing condition is decided by your pet’s medical record. So, when you make a claim, your insurer will usually ask your vet for these. However, any diagnoses or signs of an illness that show up before your policy start date would be seen as a pre-existing condition, regardless of whether it's been noted on your pet's medical history yet.

Some breeds are prone to certain illnesses. For example, bulldogs can be more susceptible to respiratory issues while German Shepherds sometimes suffer with hip dysplasiaIt might be worth doing some of your own research so you're in the know about any problems that may crop up. Read our common illnesses guide for cats and dogs for more insight about the types of issues your pet might expect.

What’s the difference between chronic and hereditary conditions?

Chronic conditions

These are long-term or incurable illnesses that your pet might have for their whole life. Chronic conditions include: 

  • diabetes 
  • cancer 
  • obesity 
  • allergies 
  • asthma and urinary tract infections in cats 
  • glaucoma or arthritis in dogs.

Hereditary conditions

Some pets suffer from genetic issues which are sometimes passed down to your pet from their parents. These may affect pedigree animals and may even be as a result of inbreeding. It's best to get cover before any hereditary conditions develop, like:

  • elbow dysplasia 
  • cherry eye 
  • intervertebral disc disease. 

Providing that the first clincal signs of your pet’s condition did not occur before you took out a policy with us, and this falls within the terms of your policy, then we may be able to cover it. Both short-term and long-term illnesses are not covered on Accident Only policies.

How does a pre-existing condition affect your pet insurance coverage?

In most cases, if your pet has a pre-existing condition, you’ll still be able to take out pet insurance but veterinary treatment for this is unlikely to be covered. Some conditions may, or may not occur again once treated, however you still won’t be covered if the insurer excludes pre-existing conditions. For example, if your pet was treated for lameness in February and the issue had not required treatment for several months or if you get insurance in July and the lameness reoccurs again in August, you would not be covered for treatment. This is because the symptoms and first clinical signs occurred before your cover started.

Pre-existing conditions are excluded from most pet insurance policies and those that do include it may not provide cover for it straight away.

Policies that offer cover for pre-existing conditions may also be more expensive and restrictive with their cover than policies that exclude pre-existing conditions completely. Try to bear this in mind if you decide to shop around.

Take a look at the variety of pet insurance options we offer, from accident only to lifetime cover.

Is pet insurance still worth it if my pet has a pre-existing condition?

Pet insurance is there to support you if your pet needs vet help. Vet treatment can be expensive, especially if they need treatment long-term. That’s where insurance can help against unexpected costs.

We have four cover levels to choose from, including:

Accident only

With our lowest level of cover your pet will be covered for unexpected mishaps. You’ll be able to claim vet fees for a period of 12 months from the first date of treatment for an accident or until the vet fee limit is reached, whichever happens first. If you make a claim and have any remaining cover benefits you wish to use in the next policy year, you must renew your policy with us and there must be no break in cover.

Basic

Also known as Time Limited. Your pet will be covered for accidents or illness for a period of 12 months from the first date of treatment or until the vet fee limit is reached, whichever happens first. If you make a claim and have any remaining cover benefits you wish to use in the next policy year, you must renew your policy with us and there must be no break in cover.

Classic

Also known as Maximum Benefit. Your pet will be covered for accidents or illness up to your chosen vet fees limit for each condition, until the limit is reached. If you make a claim or have any remaining cover benefits you wish to use in the next policy year, you must renew your policy with us and there must be no break in cover.

Premier

Also known as Lifetime. Your pet is covered for accidents and illnesses (including one-off, reoccurring and ongoing) up to your chosen vet fee limit each year, as long as you renew each year and there's no break in cover.

Cover may vary depending on which insurance provider you decide on.

Some other key benefits of insuring your pet with MORE THAN may include lost and found cover and travel cover if your pet goes missing or you decide to take them abroad, and multi-pet discount when insuring another pet on the same policy.

Our guide on whether you should take out pet insurance might be just what you’re looking for.

So, does having a pre-existing condition impact your ability to take out cover and claim?

Insurers may be unlikely to cover pre-existing conditions, as depending on the type of treatment the pet needs going forward, vet fees treatment can cost a substantial amount. However, if you already have cover in place when your pet develops a chronic issue, then you may want to consider the benefits of continuation of cover.

A time-limited policy may often cap the vet fee treatment limit or length of time you can claim towards a condition, but on a lifetime policy, conditions might be covered on a long-term basis. We call this insurance type our Premier cover. Each accident and illness will be covered up to the vet fee limit each year depending on the amount you choose (up to £6,000), providing the policy is renewed with no break in cover.

If you’ve had a claim or are aware of a pre-existing condition, how will this impact you if you choose to switch insurer at renewal?

If you no longer want cover for your pet’s pre-existing condition, this may result in a cheaper premium when being quoted on a new policy, but you’ll have to pay for any further treatment yourself. You should try to carefully consider the benefits of continuation of cover before making the decision to cancel your policy.

Think carefully about your options

It's your choice whether to insure your pet or not. Use the pointers in this guide to consider all the options open to you, what kind of cover is available and the costs involved if your pet has a pre-existing condition so you're able to make the right decision for you and your pet.

It can be hard to imagine our pets injured or unwell but preparing for the unexpected can help you in the long run. If pet insurance is for you, pick from one of our four cover levels to choose from some great optional extras and cover your pet when they need it most.

Get a pet insurance quote today

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