Here’s What Happens When You Apply for Pet Insurance With a Pre-Existing Condition

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Pet insurers aren’t required to cover pre-existing conditions the same way human insurers are. Read on to learn more. 

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Changes to human health insurance coverage have made it so insurance companies generally cannot deny policies to people with pre-existing conditions, nor can they deny payments for covered treatment. But pet insurance hasn’t quite caught up to human health insurance in that regard.

For the most part, if your pet has a pre-existing condition, that condition will not be covered by your pet insurance policy. But that doesn’t mean your pet won’t qualify for coverage at all.

It’s not a total deal-breaker

Pet insurance companies are not required to pay to treat pre-existing conditions. If you adopt a dog with a known heart condition, for example, and it flares up after you buy your insurance, your policy generally will not pay for medications or surgeries needed to address that issue. But that doesn’t mean having a heart condition will render your dog ineligible for coverage.

In that case, what will generally happen is that your dog’s heart condition will be noted on your policy and excluded from coverage. But let’s say your dog develops another issue later on that’s completely unrelated to their heart condition, like a kidney stone. In that case, your pet insurance policy might very well pick up the tab for kidney stone treatment or surgery, since that wasn’t a pre-existing condition at the time you put your policy in place.

Of course, you may be wondering how your pet insurance company will know about pre-existing conditions if you don’t disclose them. The answer is that they’ll likely request a copy of your pet’s medical records to confirm you’re telling the truth. So if your pet has a pre-existing condition, don’t lie about it.

You need savings if your pet has known health issues

It’s important to have money in your savings account as a pet owner in case you end up needing to pay for medical care. But it’s especially important to have a pet emergency fund if your pet has a pre-existing condition you know your insurance policy won’t cover.

If you’re not sure how much money to set aside for pet care emergencies, one thing you can do is ask your vet what costs you might be on the hook for should your pet’s condition flare up or require treatment. Or, do your own research.

As an example, large breed dogs can suffer from hip dysplasia. Your pet insurance company may not pay for treatment of that if it’s noted as a pre-existing condition for your dog. But the cost to fix the issue via surgery can average $3,500 to $7,000. Ouch. So in that situation, what you’d possibly want to do is aim to save up $7,000 in case that’s a procedure your dog ends up needing.

Remember, too, that while pet insurance might cover treatment for a condition that’s not pre-existing, it may not cover your expenses entirely. So either way, it’s a good idea to maintain a decent level of savings for pet care — even if your pet has no pre-existing conditions at all when you put your insurance policy in place.

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