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Pet insurance waiting periods: 3 things to know

A pet insurance policy can help protect your finances as a pet owner, but it’s crucial that you understand the waiting periods.

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Pet insurance can be a great way to protect your finances from unexpected costs for veterinary care for your dog or cat, especially right now. While inflation is showing signs of cooling, it’s still affecting the cost of everything from groceries to medical care — and that includes routine and emergency veterinary care for your pet. 

Purchasing a pet insurance policy is affordable for most pet owners, and you can use this type of policy to be reimbursed for what you pay out of pocket for routine vet care, like vaccinations and check-ups. Plus, many pet insurance policies will also reimburse you for certain veterinary care costs related to accidents, injuries or even chronic or hereditary health conditions.  

However, it’s important to understand that there is usually a waiting period before you can make a claim through your pet insurance policy, and that’s true even with the best pet insurance policies. That’s because pet insurance companies want to make sure that you are not just buying insurance for a pre-existing condition. If you’re thinking about purchasing a pet insurance policy to cover your furry friend, there are a few things you should know about pet insurance waiting periods.

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3 things to know about pet insurance waiting periods

Before you purchase a pet insurance policy, make sure you understand the three things below:

There are different types of waiting periods

Pet insurance policies can come with a number of coverage-specific waiting periods. For example, many policies have an illness waiting period, meaning that you may have to wait a certain amount of time before illness-related expenses can be reimbursed under the terms and conditions of your policy.

Some policies have an accident waiting period, and during that time, you won’t have coverage for your dog or cat if they’re involved in an accident that results in injuries like broken bones or wounds.

If your pet insurance policy covers orthopedic conditions, there will likely be a separate waiting period for these types of issues — and it’s typically much longer than the waiting periods for preventative care or injuries. That’s why it’s important to do your research prior to purchasing a pet insurance policy. Ideally, you want to find the best fit with the most coverage and the shortest waiting periods. 

The length of the waiting periods can also vary

The lengths of the waiting periods can also vary, sometimes significantly, based on the type — and what the insurer’s policies are. For example, the waiting time for illness coverage can range from one to 30 days or more and you won’t have coverage for a sick pet during that time. But the orthopedic waiting period can be much longer (if it’s covered under your policy). On average, the waiting period for orthopedic issues like hip dysplasia can span from six to 12 months or more depending on the policy.

The good news is that most pet insurance policies don’t have long waiting periods for basic preventative care, like vaccines or regular check-ups. But that too depends on the policy and company you choose.

Get a free price check from Spot and find out more about what your pet is eligible for.

Pet insurance waiting periods can impact your finances

Knowing what waiting periods to expect in your policy, and how long they may last, is crucial for financial planning. Being aware of the waiting period allows you to activate the insurance policy at the right time.  

For example, if you anticipate potential veterinary expenses shortly after getting a new pet, it’s smart to purchase your policy as soon as possible so you can account for any periods when you won’t have coverage. 

But even if you don’t expect vet bills in the near future, it can still make more sense to purchase a policy when your pet is young and healthy. By doing so early on, you ensure that the waiting period is served while your pet is in good health while avoiding exclusions for pre-existing conditions and ensuring that your coverage will be effective when you need it most.

The bottom line

By understanding the pet insurance waiting period, you can make sure that you are getting the best possible coverage for your furry friend. That’s why it’s so important to read the fine print of any pet insurance policy before you buy it. It’s also best to enroll your pet in the insurance as soon as possible after you adopt them. This will help to ensure that they are covered for any medical costs that may surface after you bring them home.

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