Pet Insurance FAQ: 4 Important Questions Answered


You’ve researched all the top pet insurance providers, and you’ve compared them to see which one would best suit your needs. You’ve even gone through their exclusions with a fine tooth comb.

And yet, some questions still loom large in your mind.

How soon will my pet be insured?

What is a lifetime cap?

What’s the difference between an annual and per-incident deductible?

Heck, what <i>is</i> a deductible?

If you’re struggling with the answer to these and other important pet insurance questions, read on.

How soon will my pet be insured?

The short answer is: “It depends.”

Most insurers have a standard waiting period of 30 days, which means your pet’s insurance cover starts operating 30 days after the policy is issued. The waiting period can be longer or shorter, depending on the individual insurer.

Certain conditions, such as ligament tears and hereditary conditions, may have a waiting period that’s longer still. This is normally 12 months after you purchase your policy.

It’s important to know the length of your waiting period. Any accident or illness that occurs during this waiting period will not be covered.

In fact, many insurers will consider any accident or illness that occurred during the waiting period a pre-existing condition, which means any future reoccurrence won’t be covered.

What is a deductible?

Put simply, a deductible is an amount you have to pay out of your own pocket before cover kicks in.

Many insurers let you choose the amount. A higher deductible will lower the price of your policy. Some insurers also offer the option of doing away with a deductible altogether.

A deductible may be payable annually or per-incident.

Which one is better? An annual deductible or a per incident deductible

Both annual and per incident deductibles have their pros and cons.

An annual deductible is payable only once a year, irrespective of the number of claims you make. Its main disadvantage is that, if a claim lasts longer than a year, you’ll have to pay it again to keep claiming payments.

A per incident deductible is payable every time you make a claim. This means that, if you make multiple claims in one year, you’ll have to pay the deductible every time you file a new claim.

On the other hand, once you’ve paid the deductible on a given claim, you won’t need to pay it again if the claim lasts longer than a year.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is an injury or illness that pre-dates the policy.

The vast majority of insurers do not cover pre-existing conditions. However, different insurers interpret pre-existing conditions differently. It’s a good idea to look at an insurer’s definition to get a feel for what would be covered and what would be excluded.

The most lenient insurers consider a pre-existing condition to be an injury or illness that happened in a given time-frame before you bought the policy. Trupanion, for example, define pre-existing conditions as accidents or illnesses that happened 18 months before you took out the policy.

This approach gives you the most leeway, because any injury or illness that happened before those 18 months isn’t pre-existing.

Other insurers consider any accident or illness that occurred before you took out the policy incurable. This means it won’t be covered,  irrespective of how long ago it happened.

The strictest insurers will also consider certain potential illnesses pre-existing, even though your pet has not had any problems yet. Very often, these potential illnesses are caused by hereditary traits, such as a short muzzle or a kinked tail.


Knowing the answer to certain questions is crucial if you want to make an informed choice.

While a 30 day waiting period, or even an insurer’s interpretation of what constitutes a pre-existing condition might seem insignificant, it could drastically affect your pet’s insurance cover. When in doubt it’s always best to ask questions, so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into before it’s too late. 

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