Can you insure a pet with medical conditions?
You can, but most standard insurers won’t cover any pre-existing medical conditions. You'll need to find a specialist insurer if you want cover for any medical conditions your pet has.
You can still get pet insurance with run-of-the-mill pet insurers. But those pre-existing conditions will be excluded. For example, if your pet already has arthritis, your insurer wouldn’t pay out for any medical care relating to the arthritis, but it would help out if your pet needed treatment for the flu.
If your pet has a pre-existing condition and you want cover for it, you’ll need to take out a specific type of policy that’ll cover it. These are hard to come by because few insurers offer cover. There are usually restrictions and not every condition is covered, even with the insurers that do.
What is a pre-existing medical condition?
For a condition to be pre-existing your cat or dog must have first showed signs of it before you took out cover.
Each insurer will have their own definition of ‘pre-existing conditions’, so have a look at the policy documents from each insurer to be sure how they're defined. An issue could be classed as pre-existing if it’s caused by, results from, or is closely related to a condition your pet had before you took out cover too – it’s not always straightforward.
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What pre-existing conditions are covered?
Every insurer that covers pre-existing conditions will have its own list of conditions it will or won’t cover. There are sometimes caveats too, usually about the type of cover you have, depending on the condition.
If you’re trying to get cover for a condition, make sure it’s on the list in the policy document. If you’re unsure, just call the insurer and ask.
Policies can include:
For example diabetes, obesity, cancer or allergies.
Bear in mind if your pet has a chronic condition you might be restricted to either lifetime pet cover or maximum benefit cover. Both of these put restrictions on the amount you can claim for the condition.
This means illnesses or injuries your pet previously had but no longer does, such as recurring joint pain.
These are conditions that affect both sides of your pet’s body, for example hip dysplasia. These issues can be fiddly to navigate when it comes to claims and pre-existing conditions.
Illnesses passed down from your pet’s family, such as cardiac valvular disease.
Do I have to declare my pet’s conditions?
Yes, you need to declare any issues your pet has, or had. You can’t claim for a pre-existing condition that you haven’t declared – your claim will just get rejected.
Your cover could be cancelled too. And if that happens, your premiums could go up when you try to take out insurance again.
How to find pet insurance with pre-existing conditions
Very few insurers are prepared to offer cover for pre-existing conditions. If possible, get insurance for your pet when the animal’s young and healthy. That way if any health problems occur later in life, they'll be covered.
The drawback here is if a condition develops that’s chronic, and you want to keep being covered, you’ll have to stay with the same insurer, or find cover for pre-existing conditions.
Try to find more than one insurer that’ll offer you cover. That way you can find the right cover for you, at the most reasonable price.
Even if one insurer isn’t willing to offer cover, they might know another who will. Make sure the policy you choose provides all the cover you need – double check what’s included and excluded before you buy. If you’re not sure about something, just ask.
Ask your vet
You won’t be the first or last pet owner who struggles to find cover for an existing condition. Your vet might have a relationship with an insurer who can help, so it’s worth asking.
Frequently asked questions
If you’re struggling to find a policy that can help cover the cost of treating a pre-existing condition, there are veterinary charities that can help - the PDSA is a well-known one.
You’ll need to meet criteria, mainly about your income and where you live, so check to see if you qualify.
Yes. How long for, and how much you can claim, depends on the type of policy you choose. Lifetime insurance, for example, covers your pet for a set amount every year.
No, you don’t have to insure your pet. But it could save you money if your pet is ill, injured, lost or stolen.
If you feel your insurer has unfairly classed a condition as pre-existing, you need to raise your complaint with it first. You’ll have a stronger case if a vet can support your argument.
After eight weeks, if you're unhappy with its response - or it hasn't responded - you can send your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
You might do this because you think your pet insurer has violated the terms and conditions of the policy or hasn't made you adequately aware that a pre-existing condition isn't covered.
Your pet insurance provider must bring any exclusions of note to your attention. If you've been told to just read the terms and conditions, rather than being appropriately notified, it could go in your favour.
It’s a lot harder to shop around for insurance if your pet has, or develops, a pre-existing condition and you want to keep covering it. If you have to claim for the condition, you might find your renewal price goes up.
If you’re trying to reduce your premiums, you could take out pet insurance and exclude the condition in the future. You’ll still get the benefits of pet insurance for other incidents but will have to foot the bill for any existing conditions.