There are many things to consider when shopping for pet insurance for your pet. You might find a policy that you really like and think you can get immediate coverage.
Unfortunately, that is not how pet insurance works.
A waiting period is standard for every new pet that you enroll, and all pet insurance companies have different waiting periods, some being less extensive than others. In general, we almost always recommend Healthy Paws. Their waiting period is 15 days.
What Is A Waiting Period?
When you enroll your pet in a new insurance policy, there are more considerations aside from just the type of coverage, pricing, and deductibles.
Once you have enrolled, there is a waiting period that is generally from 14 days to 30 days depending on the pet insurance company.
It is during this time that the pet insurance provider makes sure that your pet doesn’t have any illness or condition that you didn’t disclose.
Why Are There Waiting Periods for Pet Insurance?
A pet insurance company requires the waiting period to ensure that any new pet being enrolled is not sick or injured or has a pre-existing condition that wasn’t disclosed upon enrollment.
Not only is insuring an already-sick pet dishonest, but the cost of care for sick pets could end up affecting everyone by increasing prices for all carriers. It really is no different from health or car insurance in this regard, and similar to a background check.
However, if your pet gets sick after the waiting period ends, your pet should be covered.
Are There Pet Insurance Companies Offering Immediate Coverage?
There aren’t any insurance companies that offer immediate coverage, even if your dog or cat is a few weeks old.
If your pet has a pre-existing illness, even at birth, the pet insurance provider will not cover your dog or cat. Pet insurance is really for the unexpected illness or condition in the future, to avoid substantial medical bills. All pet insurers have different waiting periods for specific conditions.
Preventive care or wellness care insurance does not have a waiting period because it’s generally added on to an existing policy.
If your pet is already enrolled and has passed the waiting period, then wellness pet insurance begins immediately.
What Type Of Illness Or Condition Would Be Considered Pre-Existing?
A pre-existing condition refers to any illness or injury your dog or cat developed before being enrolled in a pet insurance plan.
For example, if your dog has a hip injury or your cat has chronic allergies, your pet insurance company would not cover your dog or cat for those specific conditions.
They might, however, cover this same dog or cat for everything else.
Most policies have a six month to one year wait time before enrolling for hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament issues, as these can take some time to manifest.
How Long Is A Typical Waiting Period?
Waiting periods will all vary by state and provider. The waiting period will really depend on your dog or cat’s condition, your area of residence, and the health of your pet.
The pet insurance company will specify the waiting period for your particular pet upon enrollment.
Waiting periods for animals with orthopedic conditions such as problems with the hip, patella, or cruciate ligament can typically extend for six months.
Waiting Periods And Their Typical Length:
If your pet has an accident, illness or injury and needs treatment during the waiting period, your claim will not be covered under the pet insurance plan.
That’s why it’s always best to get insurance for your pet at a young age.
Take The Time To Consult With Your Vet
It’s always advisable to talk to your vet before enrolling your pet in a new policy.
First, you want to ensure that your vet is accepted by the new pet insurance provider and they can always help you determine the right coverage for your pet or any potential condition that might occur.
Furthermore, a veterinary visit is usually required in order to enroll an animal, commonly within the previous year or before the waiting period is over (14-30 days).
Though most insurers don’t require an exam immediately, you’ll be asked to provide this sooner rather than later. It’s always best to give this info quickly, as being turned down for an illness or condition you thought was covered is the very last thing you want as a pet parent.
8 Best Pet Insurers Offering Short Waiting Periods
1- Figo Pet Insurance
Figo has very reasonable waiting periods, at just fourteen days for illnesses and for accidents, five days.
If you take advantage of one of their partner Shelter, Vet, or Humane Society affiliate codes when you buy your policy, and present proof of a vet exam within the previous 48 hours of the purchase, waiting periods can be waived.
Issues with cruciate ligaments and patellas or knees have a six-month waiting period. However, provided the vet examined your pet has during the policy’s first month and veterinary records show it didn’t present any pre-existing conditions related to its patellas, this six-month waiting period will also be waived.
Figo will also look into pre-existing conditions individually, and might do away with the pre-existing conditions clause if they can confirm it is a curable condition and there were no symptoms or signs of it in the twelve months prior to enrollment.
2 – PetFirst
PetFirst coverage for illnesses begins after a 14-day waiting period after enrollment, though accident coverage is virtually immediate, at midnight the same day as enrollment. Congenital and hereditary conditions are covered as of one year after enrollment.
3 – Embrace
Embrace has a waiting period of 6 months for orthopedic conditions, but this can be reduced to just fourteen days, given an orthopedic exam at the vet.
4 – Healthy Paws
Healthy Paws is our favorite for pet insurance. For waiting periods specifically, Healthy Paws has a reasonably standard fifteen-day waiting period for accidents and illnesses after the policy’s effective date. The company also provides coverage for hip dysplasia at no extra cost for pets under six years old, though they must wait one year.
Pets older than six years old are not covered for hip dysplasia at all.
5 – Pets Best
Pets Best provides comprehensive coverage for a wide range of illnesses and accidents. Accident coverage begins three days after enrollment, and illness coverage has the standard fourteen-day waiting period.
In some states, congenital and hereditary conditions may have a year-long waiting period, but Pets Best generally doesn’t cover these or only does so in a limited fashion after the pet’s second birthday.
Once met, waiting periods are waived for continuous, uninterrupted policy renewals.
6 – Petplan
Petplan’s waiting periods fall in line with the other companies on this list. Coverage for accidents or injuries begins between one and five days after enrollment, depending on the policy issuer. Coverage for illnesses has the typical fourteen to fifteen-day waiting period, though there is a six-month exclusion for cruciates and patellas.
The company may require records if the pet is taking medication, has suffered an injury or been ill, or if the pet is being re-enrolled following a gap in your coverage.
7 – Nationwide Pet Insurance
Nationwide’s waiting periods follow the industry standard of fourteen days, though Wellness coverage begins just 24 hours after your pet is approved.
This is the sole company which allows customers to purchase wellness plans on their own, and not necessarily as riders to its pet insurance policies.
Nationwide’s Major Medical option, which is an accident-only plan, requires a waiting period or 12 months for Cruciate Ligaments.
8 – ASPCA
ASPCA has a shorter waiting list than most with immediate accident coverage and a 14-day waiting period for illnesses, as well as for ligament or knee-related treatments or surgeries.
This is the same term for hereditary and congenital conditions.
Waiting periods are just part of the equation in signing up for pet insurance companies.
If you want to learn more about these companies and a few more, make sure to look at our best pet insurance guide.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.