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Protecting customers with insurance since 2001

How pre-existing conditions affect your pet insurance

  • 15, Jan 2024
  • Read time: 9 mins

We know that veterinary care can be costly, and it's not always something you can prepare for. Luckily, pet insurance is designed to cover some of the things you don’t see coming. 

It's important to think about illnesses or injuries your pet has had before you insure them. This is so you can avoid any nasty shocks if you ever want to make a claim.

We don't provide cover for conditions your pet has before you take out a policy with us. If you need cover for these conditions you may need to seek out specialist cover.

Dog receiving treatment from a vet.

What is a pre-existing condition?

Simply, a pre-existing condition is a health concern that was present before you took out a policy. By 'present', we mean that you or your vet were aware of or treated the health concern, which could be an illness or injury. This includes noticing symptoms.

We consider these to be pre-existing:

  • 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 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

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.

This is still the case if your pet isn't receiving treatment for the condition anymore. It will always be considered to be pre-existing, however long ago it occurred. 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. Any diagnoses or signs of an illness noted before your policy start date would be seen as a pre-existing condition.

Some breeds are prone to certain illnesses. For example, German Shepherds sometimes suffer with hip dysplasia. It 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 guidance about what could occur.

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 can be 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

We usually cover these conditions unless the signs appeared before the policy or within the first 14 days. Always check policy terms before making a claim.

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

In most cases, you can get pet insurance even with a pre-existing condition, however, that won't be covered. You could make claims for other health issues excluding the pre-existing condition.

So, for example, imagine your dog was treated for lameness in February. You then take out pet insurance in September of that year, when the lameness has been treated. Six months later, the lameness reoccurs. Treatment for this reoccurrence would not be covered by your policy.

However, if your dog ate something they shouldn't and had to be treated by a vet, this should be covered by your policy. This is because poisoning would be unrelated to the pre-existing lameness.

Take a look at the variety of pet insurance options we offer, from Basic 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 3 cover levels to choose from, including:

Basic

Also known as Time Limited. Our Basic policy provides cover for each new accident or illness within a defined period. This will either be for 12 months from the first date of treatment or until your chosen vet fee limit is reached, whichever happens first. You must renew without a break in cover.

Classic

Also known as Maximum Benefit. Our Classic policy provides cover for vet fees up to your chosen vet fee limit for each new accident or illness. There is no time limit in which you can use your vet fee limit. You must renew without a break in cover.

Premier

Also known as Lifetime cover. Our Premier policy provides cover for vet fees up to your chosen vet fee limit for each new accident or illness each year. As long as you renew your policy with no break in cover, the vet fee limit is reinstated each year.

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

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?

A pre-existing condition shouldn't prevent you from taking out cover, but it will mean you can't claim for that condition. If you already have cover in place when your pet develops an issue, make sure you're aware of what is covered and for how long.

A time-limited policy will likely cap the vet fee limit or length of time you can claim towards a condition. On a lifetime policy, conditions might be covered on a long-term basis. We call this insurance type our Premier 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?

You should be aware that the pre-existing condition may not be covered if you switch insurer. This may result in a quote with a cheaper premium, but you'd have to pay for any further treatment for the condition. Carefully consider the benefits of continuation of cover before making the decision.

Think carefully about your options

It's your choice whether to insure your pet or not. Consider all the options open to you 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. Think about the three cover levels available, as well as the optional extras, to help make your choice.

Get a pet insurance quote today

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