4 Things Pet Insurance Won't Cover

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • Pet insurance is an important purchase for animal owners.
  • Pet insurers can pay high bills if something goes wrong and veterinary care is needed.
  • There are certain things, like pre-existing conditions and grooming services, that pet insurance will not pay for that pet owners must be prepared to cover.

Don't end up surprised if an insurer won't pay these bills.

Pet insurance is something many people who own animals buy. That's because a good pet insurance policy will help ensure that owners never need to decide whether to risk going into credit card debt just to cover the costs of their companion's care.

But while pet insurance can be a crucial source of funds to cover essential treatment, there are some things most policies will not pay for. Here are four of them.

1. Pre-existing conditions

If an animal has already been diagnosed with a medical condition prior to the time when pet insurance is purchased, the insurer will exclude coverage for any related problems. For example, if an animal has a mild heart murmur before getting coverage, the insurer would not pay for echocardiograms, medicine to help the heart work, or any costs that arise if congestive heart failure results.

Some pet insurers have a fairly broad definition of what constitutes a pre-existing condition, so pet owners need to read the fine print and be aware of that before buying insurance. And some insurers distinguish between chronic and acute conditions. So, for example, if a pet had a condition before getting insurance but then completely recovered, some pet insurers might pay if this problem reoccurs in the future but others would not.

Because of the exclusion for pre-existing conditions, pet owners should generally try to buy coverage for their pets ASAP. That way, there won't be major issues that pet insurance doesn't pay for.

2. Wellness care

A standard accident and illness policy will not pay for any routine care that a pet needs -- the insurance will offer coverage only if something goes wrong. If the animal needs a regular annual exam, vaccines, flea and tick prevention, or other routine healthcare services, pet insurance will pay nothing at all.

Now, many pet insurers offer the option to add wellness care to an accident and illness policy. This would be a form of additional coverage that costs more money. Pet owners who want to avoid paying out of pocket for the regular care their pet needs may wish to look into this add-on coverage, but should make sure to read the fine print and find out exactly what is included.

3. Grooming services

Some pets need to be groomed, and this can seem like a health issue if, for example, a cat is throwing up fur balls or a dog needs a haircut to avoid developing painful matting. But even if grooming is needed to help maintain an animal's good health, pet insurance is not going to pay for it.

4. Issues that develop during the waiting period

Most pet insurers have a waiting period after you get coverage. This is usually a few days for accident-related coverage and around two weeks to a month for most illnesses.

In some cases, there are longer waiting periods. For example, an insurer may refuse to cover certain conditions affecting the joints or ligaments unless the animal has had a recent exam or unless several months have passed since buying protection.

If an animal develops a problem after buying coverage but before the waiting period, the insurer will not pay for services. This is yet another reason, along with the risk of pre-existing conditions exclusions, why pet owners should try to get insurance in place for their animal companions as soon as possible. Acting early maximizes the chances of full coverage so a furry family member can always get the help they need.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow