What is a pre-existing condition?
Most pet insurance policies define existing conditions as an injury or illness that:
Happened or first showed signs before you took out cover
Has the same diagnosis as a condition your pet had before you took out cover
Is caused by, or results from, a condition your pet had before you took out cover
This will include anything you have previously visited a vet about, even if no treatment was needed at the time.
Can you cover a pet with medical conditions?
Yes, but very few insurers offer full cover if your pet has had previous medical problems.
There are two types of condition you will have to declare:
Chronic conditions: These are ongoing problems your pet has at the time you take out the policy. For example, heart conditions or hip dysplasia.
Historic conditions: These will be conditions your pet no longer suffers from. For example, healed tissue injuries or illnesses they have fully recovered from.
There are currently no pet insurance companies that will cover your pet for existing chronic medical conditions.
Some will cover historic conditions, but only if your pet has been free of symptoms and treatment for a set period of time, usually at least two years.
Cover for existing conditions will probably be more expensive, so consider if the extra cost is worth it. This guide includes alternatives to taking out pet insurance.
Do you have to declare your pet's conditions?
Yes, you must confirm any medical issues your pet has had. If you try to claim for a condition you have not declared it will be rejected and your cover could be cancelled.
When you make a claim most insurers will ask for a clinical history of your pet from your vet. If you claim for a condition that appears on your pet's clinical history it will be rejected.
When you apply for pet insurance you will be asked:
Has your pet shown any signs of illness or injury in the past?
Has your pet been to the vet for any reason (not including routine appointments like vaccinations and check ups)?
You will also be asked to confirm that you understand that any injuries or illness your pet has had before the start of the policy will not be covered.
Will your existing policy cover new conditions?
Yes, but the cover may be limited depending on what type of pet insurance policy you have.
The main types are:
Accident only policies: These will only cover your pet for injuries that occur following an accident.
Time limited policies: After you make a claim there will a time limit, usually 12 months, that you can claim for that condition, after which you will not be able to claim. There will usually be a maximum claim limit too, for example £1,500.
Maximum benefit policies: These will cover your pet for a condition up to a set limit, for example £1,500. Once you have exceeded the limit you will not be able to make any further claims for that condition.
Lifetime policies: This will provide a set amount for all vet fees, which will renew each year. This is the most expensive type of policy, but it can cover your pet throughout their lifetime.
Lifetime cover is the only policy type that can cover your pet indefinitely if they develop a chronic condition. Check the policy documents before you buy though as not all will.
If you renew your existing policy it will mean any conditions will continue to be covered. However, you may be unable to shop around and change insurer because they will consider them to be existing conditions.
How to find pet insurance with pre-existing conditions
If your pet has historic conditions you could find cover by comparing pet insurance policies that cover existing conditions here.
Insurers that offer cover for historic conditions may only do so for certain policy types, for example they may only be covered if you take out a lifetime policy or equivalent.
Make sure the policy you choose also provides all the cover you need for things like the death of your pet, boarding fees or loss of your pet by theft or straying.
This guide explains everything that should be covered by a pet insurance policy.