Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial
research influence how products appear on a page.
Insurance Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance and Pre-Existing Conditions

Updated Nov 29, 2023   |   5-min read

Pets are part of the family, and although your furry family members may lead pretty simple lives, animals can still get sick or hurt. Your pet could face many different health challenges, from needing hip surgery to dealing with joint issues to swallowing a squeaky toy.

The costs of these issues can quickly become expensive for owners, but buying a pet insurance policy can help offset these costs. Unfortunately, many pet insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions.

In this guide, we explain what pre-existing conditions are and where you can find a policy that may cover some curable pre-existing conditions.

On this page:

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is any medical issue your pet has already developed before the policy waiting period has passed — even if you don’t notice the condition until later.

For example, if your pet has had a heart murmur since age 3 and you don’t buy a pet insurance policy until age 5, generally anything related to your pet’s heart would be considered a pre-existing condition.

So, if it turns out your pet’s murmur is an indicator of heart disease and your pet has an enlarged heart and needs costly medications, your pet’s condition could be classified as a pre-existing condition even if you simply thought your animal had a murmur and no other problems.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?

No pet insurance provider that will provide coverage for all pre-existing conditions. This makes sense because otherwise, you could wait until your pet gets sick with an expensive ailment and then go out and buy pet insurance and have a portion of the costs covered.

Many pet insurers refuse to provide any coverage for a pet with pre-existing conditions, other than accident-only policies.

Some insurers are even more generous when it comes to providing coverage and will cover illnesses related to pre-existing conditions that can be cured if your animal has been symptom-free for a certain period of time.

Pet Insurance That May Cover Some Pre-Existing Conditions

Although many pet insurers simply don’t want to give you a policy at all if your pet has a pre-existing condition, Embrace is one provider that carves out exceptions and allows you to buy a policy even when your animal is already sick.


Pre-Existing Conditions May Be Covered

  • Curable pre-existing conditions will be covered if the pet goes 12 months symptom- and treatment-free

Embrace distinguishes between curable pre-existing conditions and those that aren’t curable when reviewing your pet’s medical history.

If your pet has a curable condition and has been symptom-free for 12 months, it’ll be covered for that medical condition with Embrace if it occurs again.

For example, if your pet had kennel cough, has been symptom-free for two years, and gets kennel cough again after you’ve taken out a policy with Embrace, your pet should be covered for the diagnosis and treatment of this illness.

Should I Get Pet Insurance if My Pet Has Pre-Existing Conditions?

Oftentimes, pet insurance can still be worth it even if your pet has a pre-existing condition. This is a smart financial decision for many pet owners because your animal could develop other covered problems that are costly to treat.

For example, if you have a dog with a heart murmur, cardiac conditions won’t be covered — but if your dog develops a joint injury or pancreatitis, care for those particular ailments could be.

You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most comprehensive coverage you can, especially if you have a pet with a pre-existing condition that causes you to run through your budget for vet bills. You should compare policy terms and quotes carefully to find the coverage you want at a price that meets your needs.

>> Read More: How does pet insurance work?

Other Pet Health Issues That Typically Aren’t Covered by Insurance

In addition to coverage exclusions for pre-existing conditions, there are other types of health issues that are often excluded from coverage, sometimes because there’s no cure for the condition.

Examples of situations where your pet may not be covered include:

  • When treatment is considered experimental
  • If a condition is hereditary or genetic
  • Treatment that is considered cosmetic
  • Costs associated with breeding
  • Procedures performed outside of the United States

Some pet insurance policies also exclude treatment for specific conditions such as cancer. However, better and more comprehensive policies will offer coverage even for costly health problems. For example, Complete Coverage from ASPCA carries a higher price tag but covers cancer and a variety of other serious medical issues for which you might not expect your pet insurance to pay.

>> Read more: What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Bottom Line

Pets can require a lot of expensive care, and no pet owner wants to choose between their best friend’s health and their financial stability.

Although you won’t find pet health insurance that covers all pre-existing conditions, you should still shop around to get the most comprehensive coverage you can for your animal. And if your pet is still in good health, it’s a good idea to get covered now before a condition does develop that would be excluded from coverage in the future.