Imagine this: your cat – named, Fluffy – likes to climb the tall trees in your garden. One day, an unfortunate accident happens and he cannot walk on his back, right leg anymore. What do you do? Now would be a good time to open a pet insurance policy, right? Wrong! Pet insurance has a certain waiting period, meaning a period of time after which it actually becomes effective and you can claim benefits from it. Being the precautious parent that you are, ideally you had already opened a pet insurance policy for Fluffy before this unwanted incident occurred. This way, most of the high costs of x-rays, surgery, anesthesia, antibiotics, vet consultation, and so on will be reimbursed.
What Is the Usual Time Frame for Waiting Periods?
With most pet insurance companies, the usual waiting period for accidents is from three to five days. For illnesses, this period is around 30 days. This means that accidents that occur five days after the date the policy was started and all conditions that appear 30 days after that date qualify for coverage as long as you can prove that the accident or illness has not occurred before the policy was opened.
There are certain exceptions, though, for special conditions. For instance, usually hip dysplasia has a much longer waiting period, since it is very expensive and generally diagnosed early in the pet’s life as a puppy or kitten. Other orthopedic problems, such as luxating patella or cruciate ruptures also have a longer waiting period, since they are extremely common and expensive to treat.
It is, therefore, extremely important to check the insurance policy before signing it, so that you know what to expect if your furry friend develops a certain condition later on, since this can make the difference between the approval or denial of the claim.
A Few Examples: How the Waiting Period Can Make a Difference
Suppose Fluffy develops hip dysplasia, a painful and debilitating genetic illness in which the hip joint socket and ball do not fit correctly. If you open an insurance policy for Fluffy with Trupanion, for instance, the waiting period for this condition is 12 months after the date the policy was opened. This means that Fluffy’s parent can recover most of the expenses of treating this illness if it is diagnosed at least one year after the policy has started.
Or maybe after falling from the tree, Fluffy needs cruciate surgery. The operation is covered by the same insurance company if at least six months have passed since the date the insurance started. If Fluffy has cruciate issues on the same or opposite leg 18 months before the beginning of the coverage, or during the waiting period, these are considered to be pre-existent and are not covered by the insurance policy.
Like any responsible parent, we want what’s best for our pets. That is why it’s very important to carefully read all the documentation before signing any pet insurance policy in order to know what to expect and to be able to offer them the best treatment possible so that they recover quickly. P.S. In case you’re wondering, Fluffy is doing well, running, having fun in the grass, and spending quality time in the yard with his brothers and sisters.