When you purchase a pet insurance policy, coverage does not begin for a certain time period—no pet insurance policy provides immediate coverage. The waiting period, also called an elimination or qualifying period, is a normal part of the insurance process. 

Why Do Waiting Periods Exist?

Waiting periods exist to prevent insurance fraud. An insurance policy is meant to help cover treatment of a pet’s future accident or illness—not to be purchased after a pet’s accident, and then canceled after the insurance company helps cover treatment. Waiting periods prevent pet owners from purchasing a policy to help cover conditions they know exist.

For example, if your rescue cat breaks their leg a month after adoption, you cannot then purchase pet health insurance to help pay for their existing injury. Had you purchased a pet insurance policy soon after adopting the cat, and the waiting period had passed, their treatment would be covered. The waiting period ensures pet insurance companies are not cheated. The companies would quickly go out of business if policies allowed coverage for pre-existing conditions. However, purchasing a pet insurance policy to help defray future costs is still an excellent idea.

How Long Are Waiting Periods?

Waiting periods begin when a policy is purchased. Waiting periods vary between insurance companies, and also differ according to policy type:

Some companies, such as TrupanionOdie, and Embrace, have additional rules regarding the length of time a pet owner can take to make a claim.

These pet insurance providers require the following waiting periods:

Other pet insurance companies, such as Fetch, Nationwide, and Figo, may have similar waiting periods, but may vary in some situations.

A pre-existing condition is a medical problem that affects a pet prior to purchasing an insurance policy, or that arises during the waiting period. Pre-existing conditions are not covered by insurance policies, meaning that an issue that arises during the waiting period will not be covered. 

For example, a pet owner purchases an insurance policy with a 14-day illness waiting period, and their dog develops an allergy-related skin infection after five days. This condition will not be covered. Likewise, if the dog received an allergy diagnosis before their owner purchased the insurance policy, allergy-related issues would not be covered. But, eligible costs should be covered for an allergy that the dog develops after the 14-day waiting period.

Before purchasing a pet insurance policy, research waiting periods for the plans you are considering. Using Compare Pet Insurance is the easiest way to review multiple insurance plans. Choosing a plan with a shorter waiting period, such as Embrace, is important, because if your pet has an accident or illness during the waiting period, you’ll be responsible for the entire cost of care. 

Keep in mind that some providers have long waiting periods for conditions other than illnesses and accidents. If your pet is prone to medical problems, you’ll want to compare waiting periods to find the shortest one.

Buying a pet health insurance plan as soon as you bring home your new pet best reduces the likelihood of a pre-existing condition precluding coverage. If your pet is covered from kittenhood or puppyhood, they will be covered for any eligible situations throughout their life.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Investment?

You may be wondering whether pet health insurance is a worthwhile investment, considering all the work and effort required for choosing a policy, but purchasing pet insurance is one of the best things you can do for your pet—and yourself. 

Pet insurance can significantly lower your veterinary costs. A pet insurance plan prevents large veterinary bills, and can save you from making finance-based medical decisions for your pet.

Choosing a Pet Insurance Plan

Pet insurance can help your pet live a long, healthy life. However, you will need to research various policies to choose the best plan for your pet. While comparing providers, ensure you consider the following:

Putting in the work to choose the plan that best suits your pet’s needs will pay off in the long run—in money saved, and peace of mind, knowing your pet is covered.