Pet insurance helps pay for your dog or cat’s veterinary bills after an accident or unexpected illness. Some pet insurance companies also offer optional preventive care coverage, which will pay for things like annual vet exams, vaccinations, and dental work.
Almost every pet insurance plan has a waiting period before covering veterinary care. Usually, pet insurance waiting periods range from two to 14 days, but some companies have shorter and longer waiting periods.
In this article, we’ll explain whether you can get pet insurance with no waiting period and examine which companies have the shortest waiting periods. We’ll also share some tips for navigating pet insurance waiting periods.
In this guide:
- Why isn’t there pet insurance with no waiting period?
- What is the best pet insurance with short waiting periods?
- Tips to navigate pet insurance waiting periods
Why isn’t there pet insurance with no waiting period?
Most pet insurance companies have a waiting period that starts on the date your policy becomes effective. During the pet insurance waiting period, coverage is restricted, and your pet’s veterinary care is not covered.
While every pet insurance company has different waiting periods, it’s common for plans to have a 14-day waiting period for illnesses and a two-day waiting period for accidents. Preventive care plans are less likely to have a waiting period.
Here’s an example of how pet insurance waiting periods work:
- Imagine your plan has a 14-day waiting period for illnesses.
- If your cat starts showing symptoms of allergies on day five of the waiting period, your plan won’t cover their veterinary care; you would pay out-of-pocket for their treatment.
- If the allergy symptoms start a few weeks after the waiting period ends, your plan will cover their vet bill up to the reimbursement rate.
You might be wondering why pet insurance companies require a waiting period before you start getting reimbursed for veterinary care. Waiting periods are meant to deter pet parents from purchasing insurance after their dog or cat shows symptoms of a medical condition and filing claims right away.
Pet insurance is supposed to be used for unexpected and emergency vet bills, and insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions for that reason. When insurers reimburse claims for known conditions, it costs them more money, and premiums go up as a result.
Remember that if your pet begins showing symptoms of a medical condition during the waiting period, it will likely be considered pre-existing. Pet insurance only covers treatment for conditions that your dog or cat starts showing signs of after they are insured.
So, for instance, if your cat starts showing allergy symptoms on day five of the waiting period, your insurance company wouldn’t cover their treatment, even after the waiting period ended. Their allergy treatment would only be covered if the symptoms started after the waiting period was over.
Ask the expert: For readers needing no-waiting-period pet insurance and finding it difficult to find, what advice do you have for covering pet expenses until your insurance kicks in?
It’s always important to have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. This includes medical emergencies for pets. In addition to having an emergency fund, consider setting aside a separate savings account for regular pet care expenses that are not covered by insurance. – Chloe Moore, CFP
Closest alternatives to no-waiting-period pet insurance
Almost every pet insurance company has a waiting period for accidents and illnesses. Typically, the waiting period for accidents is shorter than the waiting period for illnesses. Depending on the plan, you might wait a few days or a few weeks before you can use the benefits.
During our research of pet insurance plans, we did find a few pet insurance companies that have no waiting periods or virtually no waiting periods.
- Companion Protect has no waiting periods for accidents or illnesses.
- If you choose a plan from 24Petwatch or Metlife, the waiting period for accidents is less than 24 hours.
Expert question: Can pet owners expect to pay more for pet insurance with no or a shorter waiting period?
Generally, you should expect pet insurance to have some waiting period. If you can find a policy with no or a shorter waiting period, it will likely cost more because the insurance company is taking on more risk. – Chloe Moore, CFP
Companies with the shortest waiting periods for accidents
It’s common for pet insurance companies to have a two-day waiting period for accidents. While every pet insurance plan is different, most plans cover accidents related to unexpected injuries and emergencies. Some common accidents that are typically covered include:
- Bite wounds
- Accidents with cars
- Toxic Ingestions
- Broken bones
- Broken teeth
If your pet has an accident or illness and needs veterinary care, your plan will cover the cost of treatment based on your plan’s reimbursement rate and annual coverage limit. Pet insurance usually covers the following expenses:
Based on our research, the pet insurance companies below have the shortest waiting periods for accident coverage.
|Company||Waiting period for accidents||Fine print|
|Companion Protect||None||Only available if you adopt a dog or cat from a participating shelter|
|24Petwatch||Less than 24 hours||Coverage begins at midnight on your policy’s effective date|
|Metlife||Less than 24 hours||Coverage begins at midnight on your policy’s effective date|
|Figo||1 day||6-month waiting period for orthopedic conditions (30 days with waiver)|
|Lemonade||2 days||6-month waiting period for cruciate ligament injuries|
|Embrace||2 days||6-month waiting period for orthopedic injuries for dogs (14 days with waiver)|
|Pets Best||3 days||6-month waiting period for cruciate ligament injuries (30 days with waiver)|
Companies with the shortest waiting periods for illnesses
Pet insurance plans tend to have much longer waiting periods for illness. Almost every company we found has a 14-day waiting period before your pet’s illness claims are reimbursed. Companion Protect is the only company that doesn’t require any waiting period for illnesses.
If you get an accident and illness pet insurance plan, here are some of the illnesses that are usually covered:
- Ear infections
- Eye infections
- Heart disease
Below, you can see which pet insurance companies have the shortest illness waiting periods.
|Company||Waiting period for illnesses||Fine print|
|Companion Protect||None||Only available if you adopt a dog or cat from a participating shelter|
|Prudent Pet||14 days||N/A|
What conditions are excluded regardless of the waiting period?
Although most pet insurance plans have a waiting period, there are certain conditions that have longer waiting periods than others or are excluded from coverage even after the waiting period ends.
For example, many pet insurance providers have a six-month waiting period for orthopedic conditions and cruciate ligament issues, such as hip dysplasia and ACL tears. However, if your vet evaluates your dog or cat and confirms that they have no known cruciate ligament problems, some companies will grant you a waiver that shortens the waiting period to 30 days or less.
For pets with hereditary or congenital conditions, it’s typically much harder to get those issues covered. In most cases, pet insurance companies will only cover treatment for hereditary or congenital conditions if your pet has shown no symptoms and hasn’t received treatment for 12 consecutive months.
If your dog or cat is showing signs of a health problem or is getting treated for a condition before you purchase pet insurance, it’s considered a pre-existing condition and their treatment won’t be covered.
What is the best pet insurance with short waiting periods?
Some pet insurance companies have short waiting periods, so you can start getting reimbursed for claims quickly. Here are some of the best pet insurance companies we found with short waiting periods.
Companion Protect pet insurance is available for pet parents who adopt a dog or cat from a participating animal shelter. It’s the only pet insurance company we found that has no waiting period for accidents or illnesses, which allows you to use your benefits immediately.
Before you can get approved for coverage, Companion Protect requires you to submit your pet’s veterinary records for the last 12 months. Keep in mind that it might take a few days after applying before your plan will take effect.
Editorial rating: 4.2
Best for: Family plans
Metlife pet insurance has virtually no waiting period for accidents. You can begin using your benefits starting at midnight on the date your coverage takes effect. However, illnesses aren’t covered until 14 days after your policy’s start date, which is standard compared to most other pet insurance companies we looked at.
Like many pet insurance providers, Metlife won’t cover orthopedic conditions, like cruciate ligament issues, until six months after your policy’s start date. Unfortunately, there’s no waiver available that can shorten this waiting period.
Editorial rating: 4.4
Figo pet insurance has a one-day waiting period for accidents and a 14-day waiting period for illnesses. There is a six-month waiting period for orthopedic conditions. The good news is that Figo will shorten the waiting period to 30 days if your vet confirms that your dog or cat has no pre-existing orthopedic issues before you insure them.
Another benefit of Figo is that curable pre-existing conditions are usually covered. If your dog or cat has shown no signs or symptoms of a condition and hasn’t received treatment in 12 months, Figo will cover future treatment if the problem comes back.
Tips to navigate pet insurance waiting periods
Every pet insurance plan is different, especially regarding waiting periods. If you’re considering buying pet insurance, it’s important to understand the waiting periods and read the fine print of your policy.
For instance, some pet insurance plans have a 14-day waiting period for illnesses, but minor illnesses, like ear infections, are covered after just a few days. If you’re concerned about orthopedic issues, see if your provider offers a waiver that will shorten the waiting period.
Depending on your plan provider, you won’t be able to completely avoid a waiting period. Because of that, it’s best to purchase pet insurance while your dog or cat is healthy.
“If you’re interested in buying pet insurance, you should look into it as soon as possible so you can get coverage before your pet develops any conditions,” says Chloe Moore, CFP. If you wait to get pet insurance until they start experiencing health issues, their pre-existing conditions won’t be covered.
Which pet insurance has no waiting period for certain coverages?
The only pet insurance company we found that has no waiting period for accidents and illnesses is Companion Protect. If your pet needs emergency veterinary care for a covered condition, you can start using your benefits immediately.
What’s the average waiting period for pet insurance?
The average waiting period for pet insurance is two days for accidents and 14 days for illnesses. However, we found pet insurance companies with shorter and longer waiting periods.
For example, Figo’s waiting period for accidents is just one day. However, Trupanion’s waiting period is five days for accidents and 30 days for illnesses.
What conditions have the shortest waiting periods?
Some pet insurance companies have shorter waiting periods for certain conditions, but it’s uncommon. For instance, 24Petwatch’s standard waiting period for illnesses is 14 days.
However, certain illnesses are covered after only two days, including eye infections, tick-borne diseases, and flea allergy dermatitis. You can read the fine print of your policy to see if there are different waiting periods for specific medical issues.
Can waiting periods be waived?
You can’t completely waive a pet insurance waiting period. If your plan has a 14-day waiting period for illnesses, there’s no way to bypass the waiting period so you can use your benefits immediately. The only waiting period that can be “waived” is for orthopedic conditions.
Most pet insurance companies have a six-month waiting period for orthopedic issues, but a few companies allow you to shorten the waiting period to 30 days with a vet exam.
Are any pets or breeds subject to longer waiting periods?
Based on our research, all pet types and breeds are usually subject to the same waiting periods. For example, older dogs and dogs with a higher risk of certain conditions aren’t subject to longer waiting periods than younger dogs or different breeds.
However, it’s a good idea to check with your pet insurance company to see if there are different waiting period requirements for your pet type and breed.
What’s the difference between a waiting period for accidents and illnesses?
The main difference between a waiting period for accidents and illnesses is the length of time before you can get reimbursed for claims. Most pet insurance companies have shorter waiting periods for accidents and longer waiting periods for illnesses, but both start on the day your policy takes effect.
If your pet experiences an accident or illness, their veterinary treatment will only be covered if the incident occurs after the waiting period has ended.