If your dog or cat needs veterinary care, you might be wondering whether pet insurance with no waiting period exists.
But is there any pet insurance company that doesn't require you to wait a certain amount of time before filing a claim? The answer is yes.
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There is no pet insurance that starts immediately apart from Companion Protect. Every other provider requires you to wait a certain window of time before insurance coverage kicks in and you're allowed to file a claim for covered vet costs (though many providers offer same-day coverage for preventive pet care through separate pet wellness plans ).
In some cases, a company might waive the waiting period for insurance coverage if the owner can show proof that their pet was enrolled in a policy by a different provider leading up to the new policy’s effective date . Other times, a provider might waive the pet insurance waiting period for a special promotion.
Currently, Companion Protect is the only provider that has no mandatory waiting period for pet insurance coverage, which means you can file a claim as soon as your pet is approved for enrollment.
However, the company does review your pet’s medical records beforehand, which might take several days. It also requires prior approval for some treatments like hip dysplasia in dogs, while others, like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), can take up to 12 months for insurance coverage
Besides Companion Protect, there are no pet insurance providers with same-day coverage. That being said, these companies offer faster pet insurance coverage than others.
*For most states. For Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, & Washington: Accidents: 0 days, Illnesses: 14 days, Cruciate Ligament Conditions: 30 days, Routine Care: 0 days; For North Dakota only: Accidents: 3 days, Illnesses: 14 days, Cruciate Ligament Conditions: 30 days, Routine Care: 0 days.
As you can see, a 14-day waiting period is common for all pet insurance policies with illness coverage. It should also be noted that some insurers also have longer waiting periods for orthopedic conditions such as ligament injuries and hip dysplasia. The length of this waiting period is usually six months, although some companies (such as Nationwide and Healthy Paws) extend it to up to 12 months.
These longer waiting periods may be reduced if the pet has seen a licensed veterinarian before getting coverage and confirms that the animal doesn’t have any serious conditions.
Pet insurance providers impose waiting periods as a way to protect themselves from pet owners who buy policies only after their pet has developed a medical problem. All types of insurance policies are a form of risk management that provides protection against a possible eventuality. In this case, pet insurance is designed to reduce the potential financial burden created by a pet's expensive and unexpected vet bills — not to pay for known pet health issues that already exist.
That would be unaffordable and unfeasible for insurance providers to pay in claims and it also explains why they don't offer coverage for pre-existing conditions.
For this reason, it's very important to sign up for pet insurance while your pet is still healthy. Enrolling in your pet in dog insurance or cat insurance at a young age will make sure that your four-legged family member is covered for as many illnesses and/or accidents as it might experience during its lifetime.
You could, but most pet insurance companies will deny claims for incidents that occur before or within 14 days of policy enrollment. If you get pet insurance and immediately submit a claim for a vet bill you incurred within the past two weeks, you will most likely be denied reimbursement for that vet visit, as well as all future vet costs related to that condition.
No, you can’t purchase a pet insurance policy and have it take effect on a date that has already passed.
When you sign up for pet insurance, the waiting period is something you'll always need to consider. Be sure to always read the policy's fine print to fully understand:
Pawlicy Advisor lets you quickly compare these details across the best pet insurance companies to see which provider suits your budget and your needs. Simply enter your pet's information for customized plan recommendations and enroll in a matter of minutes on the only pet insurance marketplace actively endorsed by veterinarians.
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Kari Steere is a licensed P&C insurance agent in all 50 states and has focused entirely on pet insurance since 2019. As an animal lover with a rescued Terrier named Barry, when she's not helping pet owners find the perfect plan on Pawlicy Advisor, she runs a ranch in Oregon and rehabilitates any animals that come across her path.