Skip to main content

Does pet insurance cover preexisting conditions? What you need to know

If you consider your pet a member of your family, we’ve got some good news. With more and more people proudly adopting the term “pet parent” to describe their relationship with their pets, pet insurance is on the rise. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, over 2 million pets in the United States and Canada are insured.

But what if your pet has a preexisting condition? Pet insurance that covers preexisting conditions can be tough to find, but they aren’t always mutually exclusive. Many pet parents have found themselves online frantically searching terms like “pet insurance preexisting conditions” only to come up short. We’ve got the scoop on common preexisting conditions, whether insurance can help, and what to look for in an insurance company.

Related Videos
A truck bed full of Golden Retriever puppies.
Tina Nord from Pexels

What are preexisting conditions in pets?

If you’ve shopped around for pet insurance, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the term “preexisting conditions.” If not, you might be wondering, “What the heck are they?” If you ask Nationwide, a preexisting condition is described as “basically any illness or injury that your pet had before coverage started.”

According to Healthy Paws, an insurance company that also runs a nonprofit foundation for homeless pets, common preexisting conditions in both dogs and cats include allergies, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity. Some conditions, such as dry eyes, glaucoma, and hypothyroidism, are more common in dogs, while conditions such as asthma, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease are found more often in cats.

What does this mean for your pet? Essentially, if your fur baby was diagnosed prior to being insured, her condition won’t be covered. However, there is a caveat that works in your favor. If you can prove your pet’s condition has been cured for a minimum of six months before her insurance coverage starts, it may be covered under her new plan if it comes back. Your vet should be able to help you document your pet’s condition and cure.

Curable vs. chronic conditions

We’ll be honest: Insurance can be pretty confusing. Why are some preexisting conditions covered but not others? As it turns out, it all boils down to whether your pet’s condition is considered curable or chronic.


Curable conditions include illnesses like ear infections, eye infections, diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections. As we mentioned, some pet insurance companies will cover curable conditions if you have a note from your veterinarian declaring your pet cured.

The amount of time pets have to be cured prior to coverage varies from one insurer to the next, so you should always read the fine print when you’re applying for pet insurance.

A person holding three blue-eyed, white cats on their lap.
Peng Louis from Pexels


Unlike curable conditions, chronic conditions aren’t going anywhere. Because these health issues will affect your fur baby for her entire life, they’re not covered by any pet insurance company. (You may be able to find help with making payments, though.)

Chronic conditions include allergies, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, hip dysplasia and other joint issues such as cruciate ligament tears (the dog equivalent of ACL tears in humans) and patellar luxation, and thyroid disease (hyperthyroid and hypothyroid).

Is pet insurance worth it?

If your pet has a preexisting condition, you may be asking yourself if it’s worth the cost. Our honest answer is … it depends. The best time to insure your pet is when she’s young, healthy, and doesn’t have any preexisting conditions. But if you have older pets who already have a ton of health issues, your mileage may vary.

Most insurance plans cover breed-specific conditions as long as they’re diagnosed after enrollment. For example, breeds like German shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia. If you have a shepherd with diabetes, your pet’s policy won’t cover his preexisting condition (diabetes), but a later diagnosis of hip dysplasia will be covered as long as the waiting period has ended.

Choosing insurance for pets with preexisting conditions

The cost of medical treatment for pets is astronomical, running as high as tens of thousands of dollars. Whether your pet has a preexisting condition or not, enrolling in pet insurance can make all the difference. In the event of a sudden illness, injury, or accident, you could be facing significant expenses. Pet insurance makes the costs easier to manage.

Even if your pet does have a preexisting condition, you still have options. From working out a payment plan with your veterinarian to pet-centric credit cards, help is available if you have trouble covering your pet’s medical expenses.

Editors' Recommendations

3 scientific benefits of being a cat person – you’ll be surprised with what we found
Here's the scoop on what we know about cat health benefits
A dark-haired woman wearing a green sweater holds a tabby cat on her lap

Cats are our best friends, our constant companions, and our furry, purring lap warmers. While the debate between cat people and dog people seems endless, one fact remains: Pet parents are happier and healthier than those who don't have pets.

We love cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, and reptiles equally here at PawTracks, but did you know that there are scientific benefits to being a cat person? We're here to share the top three cat health benefits and why sharing your home with a feline companion is the best thing you do for yourself. We'll also recommend some of our favorite beginner-friendly cat breeds.

Read more
9 Boston terrier facts to know before you bring one into your life
Important facts about the adorable Boston terrier breed
Boston terrier on a pink leash in grass

Boston terriers are always dressed for a black-tie affair. The breed’s tuxedo coat is one of many features that have endeared. Their short muzzles, compact bodies, and oversized eyes make this terrier breed absolutely adorable. Come winter, you can find Bostons strutting their stuff in cute sweaters to keep them warm underneath their short coats.

Of course, looks aren’t everything. Boston terriers are also known for their curious and loving personalities, among other common traits. Though no two dogs are exactly alike — even ones in the same breed or litter — understanding common breed characteristics is a great launching point to researching what pup is best for your home and lifestyle. If a Boston terrier is on your list, look no further. We dog up the details on this lovable breed.

Read more
Does your cat have ear mites? How to tell (and what you can do about it)
Are your cat's ears dirty or does she have ear mites? What to know
A close-up shot of a blue-eyed white cat

Did you know your cat's ears are truly astounding? Not only can your fur baby's ears help her detect prey using her whiskers -- also known as ear furnishings -- inside her ears, but they can detect frequencies as high as 64,000 Hz. For comparison, humans can only detect frequencies as high as around 20,000 Hz, which means your cat's hearing is a little more than three times better than yours.

Just like humans, cats are susceptible to developing ear infections and other ear-related issues. (Fortunately for our feline friends, instances of ear infections are relatively uncommon.) Unfortunately, ear mites are considered common -- and they're highly contagious. If you've been frantically searching "mites cat ears," or "dirty cat ears vs. ear mites," you're in the right place. Does your cat have ear mites? We'll teach you how to tell.

Read more