pre existing conditions

What is a Pre-Existing Condition in Pet Insurance?

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Pre-existing conditions has garnered a lot of attention in pet insurance. In this blog we hope to enlighten pet owners on exactly what pre-existing means, and the potential pitfalls to watch out for.
Confused puppy with pre existing condition who needs pet insurance

What is a pre-existing condition?

When it comes to common pet ailments, many pet owners want to know what is covered, and what is meant by a pre-existing condition in relation to pet insurance.

In short, a pre-existing condition is any condition or symptom that has occurred before you have set up your policy. This will also include any condition or symptom that occurs during the warm-up period, which is normally 14 days from the start date of your new policy.

As pet parents ourselves, we are here to guide you through exactly what you need to know regarding pre-existing conditions to help you understand it as best as possible - and to help you avoid any nasty surprises.

Does pet insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Unfortunately, most pet insurers will not cover existing conditions. The reason they don't cover pre-existing conditions is that insurance is designed to pool money together to help protect you against unexpected bills, not costs that are known. If insurers had to cover pre-existing conditions it would balloon the cost for everybody else insured.

There are some Pet Insurers that offer policies that specifically cover pre-existing cover. These policies are normally much more expensive, and have a number of requirements in order to unlock the coverage for the pre-existing condition. Make sure you fully understand these requirements before you start a pre-existing policy.

Some insurers will also cover a condition if a reasonable amount of time has passed since the condition was last treated. This is known as Moratorium underwriting, and it is normally around 2 years for pet insurance.

If you are ever in doubt on what might be classified as a pre-existing condition, make sure to get hold of the insurance company. It's always better know upfront rather than when you have to make a claim.

Does Waggel cover pre-existing conditions?

a shocked cat

Waggel doesn't provide cover for any pre-existing conditions. However, we have done extensive work to make coverage on existing conditions as fair as possible.

We have done this by narrowing our exclusions on pre-existing conditions. What this means is that a lot of insurers will apply broad exclusions such as excluding all digestive issues even if your pet only had a minor vomiting incident when it was a puppy or kitten. Whereas, we will only exclude anything related to the specific vomiting incident.

This approach allows us provide the best price possible, while still making sure people are covered fairly.

Why don’t pet insurers cover pre-existing conditions?

As mentioned, pet insurance is there to help protect you against the unexpected costs that result in owning a pet. If your pet already has a pre-existing condition then it is not an unexpected or unknown cost.

The average price for everybody insured with that insurer would drastically increase if the insurer had to cover pre-existing conditions, as they would have to take that into account when quoting a price.

Can I still get pet insurance if my pet has a pre-existing condition?

Yes, you can still get insurance. It just wouldn’t cover the particular conditions that were pre-existing. However, it would still cover your pet for all new conditions that might need veterinary attention in the future.

Make sure to check with your insurance company regarding what they think is pre-existing with your pet, and what other conditions might be linked to the pre-existing condition.

How do I declare my pre-existing condition when signing up?

Some Pet Insurers ask that you declare existing conditions upfront while others don't. For those that don't request upfront, they will look at your exclusions when you make your first claim. When you make a claim, they will request all of your pet’s medical records from your vet and will let you know when a condition is excluded and what will be excluded going forward.

Pre-existing conditions shouldn't affect your monthly cost, but there is a chance the condition you claimed for won't be covered.

What does my pre-existing condition exclude on future claims?

This is entirely dependent on the pre-existing condition and the insurer.

For example, if your pet has suffered with major issues such as heart problems it would exclude all claims related to the heart.

However, if your pet had a minor accident in the past like eating chocolate, at Waggel, we would exclude any resulting conditions related to that specific incident. Future accidents of toxic ingestion would still be considered.

What is a bilateral condition?

A bilateral condition refers to any condition affecting both sides of the body i.e., ears, eyes, hips, cruciate ligaments, etc. Should your pet suffer from a bilateral condition, these disorders are considered as one condition.

What this means, in terms of pre-existing, is if your pet has suffered from a condition on one side of the body before your policy period, you would not be covered for the same condition if it occurred on the other side of the body, as it is classed as one condition.

For example, take cruciate ligament damage. This is a condition that can commonly occur on both legs, so if the pet has suffered with it on one leg prior to the policy start date, it would not be covered if it occurred on the other leg at a later date.

The reason insurers class these as the same condition, is that there is a very high probability that what happens on the one side will most likely happen on the other side of your pet.


There are limits to what pet insurance will pay for, but it's important to make the distinction between pre-existing conditions and any illness/injuries.

Pre-existing conditions are health problems that your pet already has when you first sign up for pet insurance . These conditions, which can be physical or behavioral, are not covered by most pet insurance companies.

This is because they are considered a major risk, they usually require you to pay higher premiums, sometimes significantly higher.

It is important to understand all the industry terms and how they apply to you. This is so you can have true peace of mind knowing you will have the perfect pet insurance coverage for your furry friend.

Make sure to read through other insurance related terms in our Insurance Dictionary.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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