Skip to content

What is a Waiting Period for Pet Insurance?

Murray Pendergrass | Oct 21, 2022

Pet insurance can help provide financial peace of mind if your furry family member has an unexpected injury or illness. When you don’t have pet health insurance, you risk getting stuck with expensive vet bills after an emergency. But it’s important to know that if you buy a pet insurance policy today, there are waiting periods. A pet insurance waiting period is the time you must wait before some or all of your coverage comes into effect.

How Long is a Typical Waiting Period?

When you sign up for pet insurance, it’s important to understand what is covered, any exclusions, and when the pet insurance takes full effect. Read your entire policy for a complete explanation of all exclusions and benefits. For example, when looking at Furkin’s Policy, there are different waiting periods for different conditions, such as:

  • 48 hours for accidents
  • 14 days for illnesses
  • 180 days for cruciate ligament conditions

Why Are Pet Insurance Waiting Periods Necessary?

Insurance is a form of risk management — by getting pet insurance you are transferring that unknown risk from yourself to the pet insurance company. And pet insurance providers use waiting periods to prevent fraud and keep everyone's costs affordable. Pet insurance is designed to lower the potential future financial burden of caring for your pet — “the unknowns” — not to pay for existing ones.

Are There Pet Insurance Policies with NO Waiting Period?

It is standard for pet insurance policies to include waiting periods. The purpose of pet insurance is to provide coverage for future unexpected injuries and illnesses. If pet insurance had no waiting periods, people could wait until their pet became sick or injured and then sign up for coverage, making premiums much more expensive for everyone. The waiting period exists to encourage people to be proactive about buying insurance and to keep costs fair for all pet parents.

When is the Best Time to Buy Pet Insurance?

It’s a good idea to purchase pet health insurance as soon as you become a pet owner. If your pet is older, or you wait a long time before purchasing pet insurance, your pet may develop pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered, as the conditions occurred before your coverage was effective. Early enrollment can help you get the most benefits from your pet insurance policy for the life of your pet.

Waiting Periods - Just One Consideration When Buying Pet Insurance

When buying a pet insurance policy, waiting periods are essential, especially if you're worried about a particular issue. Many pet insurance providers have a 6- to 12-month waiting period before the costs of chronic or congenital conditions like hip dysplasia, or ligament issues can be reimbursed. If you have a breed of dog prone to hip dysplasia, you should buy coverage early on and take steps to help minimize the risk of it occurring before your coverage becomes effective.

Does My Pet Need an Exam Before Buying Insurance?

Pet insurance companies will normally ask you or your vet to submit a medical history for your pet at enrollment or after you submit your first claim. Some may also require a regular vet exam within a specific enrollment time frame. This information is necessary to determine whether any pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage.

What Else Affects My Pet Insurance Premiums?

The length of the waiting period can affect the price of premiums. Shorter waiting periods often mean higher premiums. Some of the factors that influence your premium include:

  • Age: younger pets experience fewer medical needs on average
  • Breed: some purebred dogs may have a higher prevalence of genetic conditions
  • Location: the average costs of veterinary care vary based on geographic region

Your deductible and other coverage options also affect your premium. The deductible is what you'll pay out of pocket before being reimbursed for the expenses covered by your plan. Some providers offer different deductible options — the higher your deductible, the lower your annual premium.

If you have more questions about pet insurance waiting periods, please contact one of our Care Team members today!