Pet Insurance and Pre-existing Conditions: What You Need to Know

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.


  • Insurance doesn't cover ongoing pre-existing conditions.
  • Some insurers do cover curable conditions like infections, diarrhea, and vomiting. Pets must be symptom-free for one or two years.
  • You can still buy insurance for sick pets.

Pet insurance companies can (and do!) deny coverage.

So you're a pet owner, and your pet has a medical condition. You want insurance to pay for their treatments, but you're facing a problem: Most insurers don't cover sick pets. Specifically, they don't help you pay for medical issues the vet has already diagnosed your pet with.

You're not alone. According to Pawlicy Advisor data, about one in 10 people searching for pet insurance have pooches with pre-existing conditions. Most can find insurance coverage but will struggle to find insurers that will cover their pet's pre-existing conditions.

Don't throw in the towel just yet! There are exceptions to this seemingly ironclad rule. Here's what you need to know.

Pet insurance doesn't cover ongoing medical conditions

If your pet has been diagnosed with a persistent disease, you probably aren't going to find an insurance policy that covers it. Pet insurers don't want to pay for expensive medical procedures. They can and frequently do deny coverage for a pre-existing medical condition.

If your pet is sick, you still have options. You can apply for a Pet Assure membership that gives you discounts on all medical treatments, even ongoing ones. And you can buy a pet insurance policy that covers unrelated health issues.

In most cases, pet insurance policies don't cover illnesses that a pet is already experiencing. But healthy pets can find coverage for their "cured" issues, in some cases.

Some insurers cover "cured" medical conditions

Some pet insurers distinguish between curable and incurable medical conditions. These companies may insure curable medical conditions.

Conditions often considered curable:

  • Infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

The best pet insurance for pre-existing conditions offers coverage for some symptom-free pets. If a qualifying pre-existing medical condition pops back up, these insurers will help cover costs.

What's the catch?

Insurers who cover curable conditions typically require pets to be symptom-free for one or two years. So if you want insurance to cover your pet for any future vomiting episodes, you'll need your pooch to stop yakking on the rug for 12 to 24 consecutive months.

Plus, you should expect your insurer to ask you for proof that your pup or feline friend is healthy and is cured. That means taking your pet to the vet for a medical exam.

What about incurable conditions?

If your pet has been diagnosed with incurable conditions like allergies, arthritis, or hip dysplasia, insurers likely won't cover treatments for those issues. To get insurance covering incurable diseases, you must buy a pet policy before the vet diagnoses your pet.

Should I buy insurance for a sick pet?

This depends on your goals. Some insurers will cover pets "cured" of former conditions. If you think your pet may relapse, it may be worth looking into appropriate pet policies.

If your pet is sick right now, insurance won't pay for whatever their condition is. But you can still buy a policy to help you cover unrelated things. To put it bluntly, you can still buy insurance covering accidents or cancer treatments if your pet has chronic diarrhea.

Preventative pet insurance policies take things a step further; they help your pet keep from getting sick in the first place. They do this by covering the cost of routine care like vaccines, teeth cleanings, and regular blood work. These are treatments and tests that keep you and your pet happy.

A pet health savings account

You can build an emergency fund for your pet. That way, you can pay off unexpected medical bills without selling investments or taking out loans. Most pet insurance plans don't cover 100% of veterinary bills, so an emergency fund can bridge that gap.

Deposit emergency savings in a high-yield savings account. That way, you'll earn interest on the money saved. Consider setting up automatic deposits to save quickly, and ensure your bank allows you to withdraw your emergency funds anytime.

Bottom line: Know your budget

Pet insurance keeps pet expenses predictable, and some insurers cover some pre-existing conditions. Consider your budget and how far you will go to pay your pet's medical bills. Decide early, so you don't have to choose between your bank account and your furry friend.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow