Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions

21 min Read Published: 25 Jun 2021

pet insurance for pre-existing conditions

It is very difficult to get pet insurance cover if your pet has an existing medical condition. This is because most standard pet insurance providers exclude pre-existing medical conditions which means you will need to get cover from a specialist insurer. It is for this reason that it is recommended to get insurance for your pet when they are young as a more comprehensive pet insurance policy, such as lifetime pet insurance, may cover your pet if it develops a condition at a later date. 

In this article, we take a look at what a pre-existing condition is, what is covered by insurers and what insurers offer pre-existing cover. 

What is pet insurance for a pre-existing condition?

Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions will provide cover for your pet if it already has a medical condition prior to taking out a policy. Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions is generally more expensive than a standard pet insurance policy and is likely to have more restrictions. It is best to check the policy terms and conditions to ensure you know how much cover is provided for the pre-existing condition as some insurers may restrict when and how much you can claim for.

What is a pre-existing condition?

Each pet insurer has its own way of defining a pre-existing medical condition, however, a pre-existing condition is generally defined as: 

  • A condition that occurred prior to taking out a pet insurance policy 
  • An illness or injury that leads to the same diagnosis as a condition that was diagnosed prior to taking out a pet insurance policy 
  • A condition that has developed as a result of an illness or injury that happened prior to taking out a pet insurance policy 

What are the different types of pre-existing conditions?

Pre-existing conditions are divided into categories when it comes to pet insurance and is separated into pre-existing, hereditary/congenital conditions, bilateral conditions and chronic illness. Each condition is described in more detail below:

  • Historic - This is a condition that your pet has suffered from in the past but is no longer affected by e.g joint pain. Some insurers may be able to offer cover for a historic condition if the pet has not suffered from any problems related to the condition for a specified amount of time. 
  • Hereditary/congenital conditions - This is a condition that is likely to have been passed down from your pet’s family. Particular breeds, such as pedigree dogs or cats, are more susceptible to certain illnesses or injuries such as hip or breathing problems. 
  • Bilateral conditions - A bilateral condition is defined as a condition that can affect both sides of the body. For example, hip dysplasia may be present in one hip and therefore is more likely to appear in the other hip in the future.
  • Chronic illness - A chronic illness is an illness that your pet is going to need treatment over a long period of time such as diabetes or arthritis. 

When taking out pet insurance for a pre-existing condition it is best to check with the pet insurance provider beforehand so that you know what is included and excluded from the policy.

What pre-existing conditions are covered by pet insurers?

There are only 4 insurers that offer a policy that covers your pet for a condition that existed prior to taking out a pet insurance policy. Each insurer has its own definition of a pre-existing condition so check that the policy you have chosen covers the condition required before taking out the policy.

Insurers that offer pet insurance for a pre-existing condition

Below we list the insurers that offer pre-existing condition pet insurance cover and highlight the key differences between each one. To get a quote for pet insurance with a pre-existing medical condition you will need to visit the pet insurance providers website. 

Bought by Many* Lifetime pet cover Scratch & Patch  VetsMedicover
Policy type Annual limit lifetime Annual limit lifetime Annual limit lifetime Annual limit lifetime
Number of policies  1 pre-existing condition policy

(4 other lifetime policies)

5 3 3
Maximum vet fee cover  Up to £7,000 (restrictions apply, see below)  Up to £10,000 Up to £8,000 Up to £10,000
Excess £99 £99 £125 £90
Percentage co-payment  20% if your pet is under 9 years of age and 40% if your pet is over the age of 9. 10% if pets are over 4, 20% if your dog or cat is over the age of 7 and 25% if your dog or cat is over the age of 12 cross 10% for pets over 4

20% for pets over 6

Upper age limit  cross cross cross Does not cover pets over the age of 8 for new policies (or over the age of 5 for some breeds) 
Terms... All Bought by Many policies cover pre-existing conditions if symptom-free for 24 months. Its pre-existing condition policy will cover conditions from 3 months Covers pre-existing conditions if your pet has been symptom and treatment free for 24 months and fully recovered You can check if the pre-existing condition will be covered before taking out the insurance policy Insures your pet for pre-existing conditions if your pet has not suffered from or received veterinary care for the condition in 24 consecutive months

VetsMedicover 

  • Insures your pet for pre-existing conditions if your pet has not suffered from or received veterinary care for the condition in 24 consecutive months. 
  • Does not cover pets over the age of 8 (or over the age of 5 for some breeds) 
  • Its Gold, Platinum and Diamond policies offer cover for pre-existing conditions (as defined above) up to £10,000. 

Scratch & Patch 

  • Find out if your pet's pre-existing condition is covered by filling out the online form before taking out the pet insurance.
  • Does not cover chronic conditions (a chronic condition is defined as recurring or a condition your pet has suffered from for a long time) 
  • Scratch & Patch offers 3 types of cover with its ‘Champ’ pre-existing pet insurance policy; Champ 2.5 covers vet fees up to £2,500, Champ 4.0 covers vet fees up to £4,000 and Champ 8.0 covers vet fees up to £8,000.
  • Scratch & Patch has updated its website with a list of pre-existing conditions that it has recently covered (see table below).
Back pain Broken bone Cataracts Cerebral hypoplasia Corneal ulcer Cruciate ligament injury Cystitis
Diarrhoea and vomiting Ear haematoma Elbow dysplasia Eye infection FIV (Feline) Food allergy
Gastroenteritis
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis Heart murmur Hip replacement Hyperthyroidism Lameness Liver shunt Meningitis
Otitis (ear infection) Pancreatitis Patellar luxation Retinal atrophy Sarcoptic mange Seizure Skin allergy

 

Lifetime Pet Cover 

  • Offers cover if your pet has made a complete recovery from the condition and there is not a chance of the condition reoccurring in the future
  • Insures your pet for pre-existing conditions if your pet has not suffered from or received veterinary care for the condition in 24 consecutive months. 
  • Does not cover you for chronic conditions (a chronic condition is defined as recurring or a condition your pet has suffered from for a long time) 
  • You must pay a percentage of the claim in addition to the excess amount, 10% of the remaining fees if your pet is over 4, 20% of the remaining fees if your dog or cat is over the age of 7 or 25% of the remaining fees if your dog or cat is over the age of 12
  • You can get pet insurance cover for up to £10,000

  Bought By Many 

  • Insures your pet for pre-existing conditions under its pre-existing condition policy* if it has not received treatment, advice or medication for the condition in 3 consecutive months prior to the policy start date
  • Insures your pet under all of its policies if your pet has not received treatment, advice or medication for the condition in the past 24 months
  • The pre-existing condition policy insures the pre-existing condition for £500 for the first year of pet insurance. If no claim is made in the first year this increases to £1,000 for the second year of insurance and then increases and remains at £7,000 from the third year onwards as long as no claim for the condition is made. If a claim is made within the first 2 years for a pre-existing condition the claim limit will drop and remain at £500. 
  • You have to pay a percentage of any claim with a pre-existing condition policy, 20% if your pet is under 9 years of age and 40% if your pet is over the age of 9.

How much does pet insurance for a pre-existing condition cost?

The below table shows the average monthly pet insurance premium for a 5-year-old male mixed breed dog with a pre-existing joint problem that has shown no signs or symptoms for 24 months. Quotes are correct as of 24/06/21 and will differ depending on the type, age, breed and location of your pet. 

How much does pre-existing pet insurance cost for a dog?

Insurer Policy Name Cover amount
Cost (monthly £)
VetsMedicover Gold £4,000 £38.84*
Platinum £6,000 £45.89*
Diamond £10,000 £53.90*
Scratch & Patch Champ 2.5 £2,500 £47.95
Champ 4.0 £4,000 £75.48
Champ 8.0 £8,000 £81.07
Lifetime Pet Cover Lifetime cover £2,000 £22.36
Lifetime cover £3,000 £32.06
Lifetime cover £4,000 £40.42
Lifetime cover £6,000 £47.63
Lifetime cover £10,000 £56.13
Bought By Many Complete £15,000 £36.92
Regular £7,000 £29.29
Pre-existing £7,000 £51.80**

*A 25% discount has been applied for getting an online quote

**Bought by Many also offers a pet insurance policy for a pet that has experienced symptoms or received treatment for a pre-existing condition up to 3 months prior to the policy start date. 

How much does pre-existing pet insurance cost for a cat?

The below table shows the average monthly pet insurance premium for a 5-year-old male mixed breed cat with a pre-existing epilepsy problem (1 seizure with no symptoms for 24 months). Quotes are correct as of 24/06/21 and will differ depending on the type, age, breed and location of your pet. 

Insurer Cover Type Cover amount
Cost (monthly £)
VetsMedicover Gold* £4,000 £15.85*
Platinum* £6,000 £22.31*
Diamond* £10,000 £26.10*
Scratch & Patch Champ 2.5 £2,500 £11.22
Champ 4.0 £4,000 £15.80
Champ 8.0 £8,000 £17.97
Lifetime Pet Cover Lifetime cover £2,000 £11.58
Lifetime cover £3,000 £16.61
Lifetime cover £4,000 £21.09
Lifetime cover £6,000 £24.87
Lifetime cover £10,000 £29.33
Bought By Many Complete £15,000 £19.66
Regular £7,000 £15.53
Pre-existing £7,000 £27.15**

*A 25% discount has been applied for getting an online quote

**Bought by Many also offers a pet insurance policy for a pet that has experienced symptoms or received treatment for a pre-existing condition up to 3 months prior to the policy start date. 

Does the cost of my pet insurance premium increase over time with a pre-existing condition?

Pet insurance premiums are known to increase over time whether or not you have made a claim and numerous factors can contribute to the price increase including: 

  • Advances in medical treatment and care
  • Where you live
  • Pet type and breed
  • Pet age
  • Whether you have claimed in the past and the condition you have claimed for

Do I need pet insurance for pre-existing conditions?

Pet insurance policies for pre-existing conditions are quite restrictive and so you may be wondering whether it is even worth getting pet insurance to provide cover for a pre-existing medical condition. Despite not many pet insurance providers offering cover for pre-existing conditions, it is still possible to get your pet insured. You can choose to get your pet insured with a regular provider for a standard pet insurance policy, however, it is likely that the pre-existing condition will be excluded due to the risk of the condition flaring up again throughout the duration of the pet insurance policy. Alternatively, you can get your pet insured with a specialist provider and hope to get your pet insured for its pre-existing condition. Although in some instances this may not be possible due to restrictions.

If pet insurance that covers both injury and illness is becoming expensive because your pet has a pre-existing condition, an alternative could be an accident-only pet insurance policy. While this will not cover your pet for any treatment due to illness, it will ensure that your pet is covered should it require treatment due to an accident. More information on accident-only pet insurance can be found here, 'Accident-only pet insurance explained'.

Do I need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions?

Yes. If you do not declare any medical conditions that your pet has had in the past and you go to claim for the condition in the future your claim is likely to be rejected. When taking out pet insurance, providers will ask for the medical history of your pet and a medical report from your veterinary practice. If your pet has been registered at more than one veterinary practice, it is likely that they will ask for a medical report from each one. 

Should I renew my pre-existing condition pet insurance policy?

If your pet has developed a condition or is insured for a pre-existing condition it is unlikely that another insurer will offer cover for the health problem. If you are shopping around for a cheaper deal make sure you check the terms & conditions closely to ensure you are getting identical cover.

How can I reduce the cost of my pet insurance policy?

Pet insurance can be expensive, particularly if you are paying for pet insurance for a pet with a pre-existing condition. The following may help to reduce the cost of your monthly premiums: 

  • Insure your pet as young as possible to ensure you are protected before any conditions develop
  • Research your pet before you buy it and the illnesses that are most likely to affect the particular breed. Pedigree pets are more susceptible to certain illnesses
  • Spaying or neutering your pet reduces the risks of health conditions and vet fees
  • Microchip your pet for easier location if your pet is lost or stolen

Alternatives to pet insurance for pre-existing conditions

The following are alternatives to pet insurance for pre-existing conditions:

Accident-only pet insurance

If pet insurance is becoming expensive or you are struggling to find cover for your pet because it has a host of pre-existing medical conditions, you may wish to consider accident-only pet insurance. While this type of pet insurance does not offer cover for treatment due to illness, it will cover your pet for veterinary treatment due to an accident. Accident-only pet insurance is usually cheaper than other types of pet insurance policy because it doesn't cover illnesses but it still offers some protection against high veterinary fees due to an accident. You can find out more about accident-only pet insurance in our article, 'Accident-only pet insurance explained'.

Self-insurance

Putting away a regular amount each month instead of paying for pet insurance is called self-insurance and will help towards the cost of veterinary treatment should your pet become ill or injured. A problem with self-insurance is that it can take a long time to build a sizeable amount and you may find that the amount you have saved does not cover the amount needed to cover the vet bills. This could be particularly problematic if your pet is being treated for a pre-existing condition and needs regular veterinary care. 

Charities

There are some charities that offer help in the event that you cannot afford veterinary treatment for your pet, however, these tend to be oversubscribed and are designed to help those on income support and benefits. A list of some of the charities can be found below:

 

 

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