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Does Pet Insurance Cover Diabetes?

Christy Bieber
By: Christy Bieber

Our Insurance Expert

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Pet insurance provides important protection for animal companions because it ensures that vet bills can be partially paid for covered care. But does pet insurance cover diabetes? Here's what pet owners need to know about when a policy will pay for the care their diabetic pet needs.

Does pet insurance cover diabetes?

Does pet insurance cover diabetes? This question is not as simple as it seems. That's because a lot depends on when insurance was purchased, what type of insurance was purchased, and the health of the pet at the time.

If a pet owner purchased insurance before their animal had diabetes, pet insurance will typically provide coverage for most of the costs associated with this condition. However, if a pet was diagnosed with diabetes before a policy was in place, then things are different. Pet insurance will not offer coverage for diabetes at all if the animal was diagnosed before a policy was bought. That's because pet insurers do not cover any pre-existing medical issues.

In order for pet insurance to cover diabetes, a pet owner must also have purchased an accident and illness policy. Owners who purchased accident-only coverage alone will not have coverage for diabetes.

Pet insurance policies will also pay only up to policy limits. Some insurance has an annual limit. If diabetes care exceeds this limit over the course of the year, the insurer will not pay anything above the covered amount. Other policies have a lifetime limit. Once the policy has paid out up to that limit for diabetes, no further coverage will be available.

Owners should read their policies carefully for exclusions and limits. By reading the fine print, pet owners can make sure they have the coverage they need in case their pet is diagnosed with diabetes. It's best to learn the details of coverage when initially purchasing insurance if owners are concerned about whether their policy will cover diabetes that develops in the future.

What is typically covered?

Pet insurance that was in place before a pet was diagnosed with diabetes should typically cover most costs related to the condition. Depending on the specifics of each insurance policy, it might pay for:

  • Blood testing at the vets
  • Veterinary exams related to the diabetes
  • Urinalysis at the vet's office
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Emergency veterinary care due to complications of diabetes
  • Insulin
  • Syringes to administer insulin
  • Glucose meters to test a pet's insulin levels
  • A specialized diabetic diet
  • Urine test strips

Pet owners will need to check the specifics of their policy to determine which of these diabetes-related costs are covered. For example, in many cases, specialized diets will be paid for by insurance only if a wellness policy is in place and/or only if the diet is a prescription diet that a vet prescribes.

What is not covered?

No veterinary care is covered for diabetes if a pet had this condition before insurance coverage was purchased. An accident-only plan also will not pay for any veterinary care related to diabetes.

When an accident and illness policy was put into place before a pet developed diabetes, the specifics of what is covered vary by policy. For example, some pet insurers cover the cost of a veterinary exam to diagnose diabetes. Others will cover care for the diabetes and diagnostic testing, but not the initial exam itself.

Pet owners should read their policies carefully to make a determination of what their coverage entails. If owners are concerned about whether a particular procedure or treatment will be covered, it is often possible to request pre-approval before seeking care and making a claim. Since pet owners must pay out of pocket for care and then submit claims for reimbursement, this may be an important step when deciding what treatment to provide.

Is diabetes common in pets?

According to the American Veterinary Association, diabetes can develop in pets of all ages, but it is more common in older pets.

For example, the American Veterinary Association indicates that diabetes typically develops in dogs between the ages of four and 14. Most dogs are diagnosed when they are between seven and 10 years of age. Pregnant pets may also be more likely to develop diabetes and diabetes occurs twice as often in female dogs than in male dogs. Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine also reports that between 0.2% and 1% of cats will develop diabetes during the course of their lifetimes.

The AVA makes it clear that obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, with pets who are overweight significantly more likely to develop this health problem. In addition, other medical conditions such as an overactive thyroid and/or overactive adrenal glands can also increase the risk of an animal being diagnosed with diabetes.

How much does typical diabetes treatment cost for pets?

The costs of initially diagnosing a dog or cat with diabetes typically ranges from around $225 to around $350. This includes a vet visit for an exam as well as blood work necessary to identify appropriate treatments to manage the chronic condition.

Once an animal has been diagnosed, costs vary depending on the species and size of the animal and the type of treatment needed. Insulin could run between $700 and $2,800 annually. If diabetes is severe and/or complications arise, costs can be much higher. Typically, once a pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, insulin and other types of medical care related to the condition will be required for the remainder of the animal's life.

Pet owners can keep costs of treating diabetes down by maintaining a healthy weight in their animals and feeding them an appropriate diet. Regular medication and vet visits to monitor for problems can also help prevent major and costly issues.

Pet insurance can help owners cover these costs, as long as a policy was in place before diabetes occurs and provides coverage for the condition.

Our Insurance Expert