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Purchasing an insurance policy for a family pet has become common among pet owners who want to protect themselves from financial loss. In the event a dog, cat, or other household pet has an accident that results in an injury or is diagnosed with a condition that requires medical attention, pet insurance kicks in to offset some of the costs associated with veterinary care.
Not all pet insurance policies are created equal, though, as each policy offers different parameters for which conditions are included in coverage, the limit to which the insurance company is on the hook for reimbursement, and the type of pet, including breed and age, may have coverage under a new policy. One of the biggest concerns with pet insurance coverage, however, is the extent to which pre-existing medical conditions are covered.
What is a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is any disease, medical condition, or injury that caused pet health complications in the past. For the purpose of a pet insurance policy, pre-existing conditions may be apparent, like a problem with digestion or arthritis, and signs of the condition or illness are known at the time a policy is put in force. However, some insurance companies may define a pre-existing condition as one in which no diagnosis has been made in previous visits to the vet.
Cancer, for instance, may be considered a pre-existing condition given that the disease develops slowly over time. Understanding what constitutes a pre-existing condition and what does not is an important part of determining whether a pet insurance policy is worth the cost for a specific pet.
What’s Covered and What’s Excluded?
Just like consumers who purchase insurance want to cover themselves from a financial setback, insurance companies have a desire to hedge their risk. They do so not only by charging premiums in exchange for coverage but also by limiting what they pay for when a pet visits the vet for care. Pre-existing conditions are often not covered by a pet insurance policy, no matter how comprehensive it may seem on the surface. Each pet insurance policy differs from the next, so consumers should take the time to read through the limitations surrounding pre-existing conditions before agreeing to a policy.
Although pre-existing conditions are not typically covered under a new pet insurance plan, most other conditions receive some degree of reimbursement. Some policies help pet owners recoup costs associated with accidents which lead to a pet’s need for medical attention, like a broken bone or ingesting a foreign object. Other policies cover hereditary conditions up to certain limits, but often this coverage comes with a higher price tag.
Pet owners may also have the option to purchase pet wellness plans which cover a portion of the expenses related to vaccines, teeth cleanings, and routine veterinary exams each year. While pre-existing conditions are off the table for nearly all pet insurance companies, pet owners may still find value in purchasing a pet insurance policy to help reduce the ongoing costs of care for their furry friends.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
Jeff Gitlen writes about a wide range of finance topics including everything from student loans to credit cards to small business financing. Jeff's work has been featured on a number of sites including Bloomberg, CNBC, Forbes, Market Watch, and more.