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Insurance Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance That Covers Pre-Existing Conditions

Dog and cat owners love their pets like family, but pet ownership can be expensive. Pet insurance provides coverage for pets’ medical needs, but many plans exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, hip dysplasia, and heart disease. 

To help you find pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions, we researched and identified several companies that fit the bill. In this guide, we’ll share which companies cover pet pre-existing conditions and explain how to get the most out of your pet insurance plan.

In this guide:

What are pre-existing conditions?

A pre-existing condition is any medical condition your dog or cat shows symptoms of. A veterinarian doesn’t need to formally diagnose a condition for it to be considered pre-existing. Some pre-existing conditions are curable, but others aren’t. 

Many pet insurance companies exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions because the treatment can be expensive. Pre-existing conditions can also lead to further medical issues, which the insurance company may have to pay for.

How do insurance companies know if my pet has a pre-existing condition? 

Pet insurance companies can learn about your pet’s medical history in several ways. 

When you apply for a pet insurance plan, most insurers will ask a few questions about your pet’s medical history. You might have to check a “yes” or “no” box regarding past diagnoses your pet has received. This helps the company determine your pet’s eligibility.

Pet insurance companies might also request a copy of your pet’s vet records from the past year before approving your policy. Even if the insurer doesn’t require medical records, it’s wise to keep them on hand. You may need to submit your pet’s vet records when you file a claim. 

What’s the difference between curable and incurable pre-existing conditions? 

Pet insurance companies classify pre-existing conditions into two groups: curable and incurable.

A curable pre-existing condition can be reversed with the correct medical treatment from a veterinarian. Examples of conditions pet insurance companies consider curable include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Ear infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Vomiting

Incurable pre-existing conditions—while some may be treatable and even curable—are considered incurable by pet insurance companies because they can only be managed with repeated veterinary care, ongoing medication, and sometimes surgery. Examples include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Thyroid issues

Almost every pet insurance company excludes coverage for incurable pre-existing conditions, even if your pet doesn’t need regular treatment. However, treatment for incurable conditions is covered if your pet is insured before the diagnosis.

Many pet insurance companies cover curable pre-existing conditions, but most plans require a waiting period—a time in which the pet hasn’t shown symptoms or gotten treatment for the condition. 

For instance, if your cat gets diagnosed with a respiratory infection but has shown no signs or symptoms for one year and hasn’t received treatment during that time, pet insurance plans that have a waiting period of 12 months or less might cover future treatment for the same condition. 

Is there any pet insurance that covers pre-existing conditions?

After reviewing a variety of pet insurance companies, we didn’t find any that cover incurable pre-existing conditions. However, several insurers cover curable pre-existing conditions after a certain period.

These are the pet insurance companies we found that cover pre-existing conditions. Click the company name in the table below to read more about each company’s pet insurance coverage and how it treats pre-existing conditions.

CompanyCurable coverage?Incurable coverage?Waiting period
Lemonade✔️12 months
Spot✔️6 months
Embrace✔️12 months
Nationwide✔️6 months
MetLife✔️6 months
Pets Best✔️6 months
Pumpkin✔️6 months


  • LendEDU editorial rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Best for fast claims

Lemonade covers pre-existing conditions once your pet has had no symptoms or treatment for at least 12 months. However, the company only covers curable conditions and only in certain states. (You must contact Lemonade’s customer service to determine whether it will cover curable pre-existing conditions in your state.) 

Lemonade won’t ever cover knee or ligament conditions. It also excludes chronic pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or asthma.

  • Waiting period: 12 months
  • Deductible: $100, $250, $500, or $750
  • Annual coverage: $5,000 – $100,000
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%


  • LendEDU editorial rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Best variety of terms

Spot is one of the few pet insurance companies we found that covers curable injuries and illnesses—for example, an ear infection or gastrointestinal issues. If your pet has been symptom-free and has not received treatment for the condition for six months, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing. 

Spot excludes coverage for pre-existing knee and ligament conditions.

  • Waiting period: 6 months
  • Deductible: $100 – $1,000
  • Annual coverage: $2,500 – unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%


  • LendEDU editorial rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Best for quick coverage

Embrace’s pet insurance plans cover curable pre-existing conditions if your dog or cat has been symptom-free and hasn’t received treatment for at least one year. 

Embrace never covers incurable pre-existing conditions, including orthopedic conditions and certain bilateral conditions.

  • Waiting period: 12 months
  • Deductible: $100 – $1,000
  • Annual coverage: $5,000 – unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%


  • LendEDU editorial rating: 3.7 out of 5
  • No best-for designation

Nationwide pet insurance will cover curable pre-existing conditions. If your dog or cat has shown no symptoms and has not received treatment for six consecutive months, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing. 

If you’re denied coverage for a pre-existing condition but you think it should be covered, your vet can submit a request for review based on their medical evaluation.

  • Waiting period: 6 months
  • Deductible: $100 – $500
  • Annual coverage: $5,000 – unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%


  • LendEDU editorial rating: 4.2 out of 5
  • Best family plan

MetLife will cover your dog or cat’s curable pre-existing conditions once they’ve been symptom-free and treatment-free for at least six months. Incurable conditions are not covered. 

However, if your pet received treatment for a pre-existing condition under a previous insurance provider for group benefits, MetLife will continue to cover their care with no waiting period required.

  • Waiting period: 6 months
  • Deductible: $50 – $500
  • Annual coverage: $2,000 – $10,000
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%

Pets Best

  • LendEDU editorial rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • No best-for designation

Pets Best will cover your pet if their curable pre-existing conditions have not required treatment in six consecutive months and they have shown no signs or symptoms of the condition during that time. 

Like most pet insurance companies, Pets Best will not cover incurable conditions, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, cancer, and diabetes.

  • Waiting period: 6 months
  • Deductible: $50 – $1,000
  • Annual coverage: $5,000 – unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 70%, 80%, or 90%


  • LendEDU editorial rating: 4.4 out of 5
  • Best for preventive care 

With a Pumpkin pet insurance policy, curable pre-existing conditions are covered once your dog or cat has been free of symptoms and treatment for six months or longer. 

The only exception is for knee and hind leg ligament conditions, which are never covered. Pumpkin will only cover treatment for knee and hind leg ligament conditions if your pet is insured before they get diagnosed. 

  • Waiting period: 6 months
  • Deductible: $100 – $1,000
  • Annual coverage: $10,000 – unlimited
  • Reimbursement: 90%

How to optimize pet insurance coverage

Pet insurance can provide valuable coverage for the animals in your family, regardless of your pet’s age or medical history. The following steps can help you optimize your pet insurance coverage:

Purchase a plan early

If possible, get pet insurance while your pet is young and healthy. If your pet develops a curable or incurable condition in the future, your pet insurance will cover their treatment.

Our expert’s take

Erin Kinkade


I would recommend purchasing pet health insurance for all pets, regardless of age. Of course, a younger pet with no health issues will have an easier time being accepted, and if health issues arise, insurance is in place to cover the condition. This should result in lower to no out-of-pocket expense (except a deductible) for the pet owner. The cost savings may not be as impactful early in the pet’s life for a medical condition, outside of regular checkups and vaccinations, but as the pet ages and medical needs may increase, the pet owner could realize significant savings having the insurance in place earlier rather than later.

Choose the right plan type

The most common types of pet insurance are accident-only, accident and illness, and preventive care plans. An accident and illness plan with a preventive care add-on will provide the most coverage, but it will also be the most expensive.

Ask about discounts

Many pet insurance companies offer discounts, which can help you lower your pet insurance costs. For example, Embrace offers a discount to military personnel and customers who insure multiple pets. 

How can you determine the cost-effectiveness of pet insurance?

Erin Kinkade


Understand the fees your vet charges and the amount the insurance company would cover. Subtract the insurance coverage to estimate your out-of-pocket and deductible costs. Then multiply that by the estimated visits or treatments you expect your pet to receive, and project that over the life expectancy of the pet. It is a rough estimate, but it helps to budget for the pet costs.


Can you get pet insurance if your pet is already sick?

If your pet is getting treatment for a pre-existing illness or injury, it won’t prevent you from getting pet insurance. It just means that the insurance company won’t cover your pet’s treatment for that condition. Any other conditions they may develop after you purchase pet insurance will be covered.

What happens if you get pet insurance and your pet dies?

If your pet passes away while your pet insurance policy is active, you should contact your pet insurance provider. Any remaining claims for treatment your pet received should be paid out based on the terms of your policy. Ask your pet insurance company whether they will refund prepaid premiums for unused coverage. 

What documentation will I need to provide to prove a condition is not pre-existing?

If your pet needs treatment for a condition that is no longer “pre-existing,” you will need to submit your pet’s updated vet records from the last six to 12 months (depending on your insurer’s waiting period).Your vet might also need to submit their own documentation to prove that your pet’s condition should be covered.

Do any state or federal regulations affect coverage of pre-existing conditions in pets?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), California is the only state with laws around pet insurance. Under California law, insurance companies must disclose information about pre-existing condition limitations, reimbursement benefits, deductibles, and annual and lifetime policy benefits to customers. Pet insurance companies must also give California shoppers a 30-day “free look” period, which allows them to cancel their policy for a full refund during that time.

What steps should I take if my claim related to a pre-existing condition is denied?

If you file a claim related to a pre-existing condition and your pet insurance company denies it, start by contacting the insurance company. You may need to submit a “request to review” form and provide your pet’s updated medical records to show their last date of symptoms or treatment. Your vet may also be able to contact your insurance company and explain why your pet’s condition should be covered.

Are holistic or alternative treatments covered for pre-existing conditions?

Some pet insurance companies cover holistic and alternative treatments, such as Embrace and MetLife, but others don’t. If your pet has a cured pre-existing condition and they need treatment again in the future, alternative treatments would only be covered if your pet insurance provider covers them. 

Is it more practical to set up a pet savings account instead of buying insurance for a pet with pre-existing conditions?

Pet insurance can be valuable, but some pet owners might feel a separate pet savings account is a better option. Pet insurance comes in handy in the event of an unexpected accident or illness where your pet needs veterinary care. Many policies reimburse between 70% and 90% of the bill minus your deductible.

A pet savings account might be worth it if you have enough money in the account to cover unexpected (often costly) vet bills.