Is There Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period?

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Updated: 08 May 2024
Written by
Bob Phillips
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Finding the right pet insurance is no easy undertaking, especially when your furry friend needs immediate coverage. If you’ve found yourself searching for pet insurance options with no waiting period, you’re in the right place.

We’re going to explore pet insurance waiting periods and provide a roadmap to selecting the best policy for your pet’s needs. As a pet owner, you understand the importance of securing their well-being, but navigating the intricacies of insurance policies can be challenging. Without careful consideration, you might end up with a policy that falls short during critical times, leaving you and your pet in a bind.

Over the years, my journey as a pet owner and buying pet insurance has taught me the significance of being well-informed. This guide will shed light on the various aspects of pet insurance, focusing particularly on waiting periods and comparing different pet insurance companies to help you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • All pet insurance plans have a waiting period

  • Retroactive pet insurance is not available

  • Some pet insurers sell accident-only plans

Is There Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period?

No, pet insurance policies universally include some form of waiting period for various types of coverage, especially for illnesses and certain conditions.

While you won’t find policies that offer no waiting period for illness and specific condition coverage, some insurance providers may offer immediate coverage for accidents as a compromise. However, for most health-related issues, including chronic illnesses and specific conditions like hip dysplasia or dental diseases, a waiting period remains mandatory.

This ensures a level playing field and allows pet insurance companies to offer more affordable premiums and coverage options to all pet owners.

How Pet Insurance Waiting Periods Work

Pet insurance waiting periods are a vital aspect of your policy, acting as a buffer between the time you sign up for insurance and when your coverage actually begins. This mechanism serves several important purposes, both for the insurance provider and the pet owner. Understanding how these waiting periods work can help you navigate your pet insurance policy more effectively.

The Basics Of Waiting Periods

A waiting period is essentially a set duration of time that starts the moment your pet insurance policy becomes active. During this time, any illnesses or injuries that occur may not be covered by your insurance plan. Waiting periods vary by the type of coverage (e.g., accidents, illnesses, orthopedic conditions) and can range from just a few days to several months.

Purpose Of Waiting Periods

The primary reasons for waiting periods include:

  • Preventing Fraud: To deter pet owners from signing up for insurance only after their pet becomes sick or injured, which would significantly increase the risk and cost for insurance providers.
  • Managing Pre-existing Conditions: Waiting periods help insurers exclude coverage for conditions that were present before the policy began, ensuring that only new and unforeseen medical issues are covered.

Types Of Waiting Periods

There are three primary waiting periods with pet insurance:

  • Accident Coverage Waiting Period: This is typically the shortest waiting period, often ranging from 24 hours to a few days after the policy start date.
  • Illness Coverage Waiting Period: Waiting periods for illnesses are usually longer, often around 14 to 30 days, to ensure that diseases or conditions that develop shortly after obtaining the policy were not pre-existing.
  • Specific Conditions Waiting Period: Certain conditions, such as hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament injuries, or dental diseases, may have even longer waiting periods. Depending on the policy and provider, these can range from six months to a year.

When selecting a pet insurance policy, it’s important to consider the length and terms of the waiting periods. Some insurers may offer options to reduce these periods or waive them under certain conditions, like providing a veterinary examination to prove your pet’s good health.

Why Isn’t There Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period?

The core reason for waiting periods in pet insurance policies is to deter pet owners from purchasing a policy only after their pet has already become ill or injured. Without waiting periods, an owner could sign up for insurance immediately following an accident or upon discovering an illness, leading to a claim for an incident that occurred before the policy was meant to provide coverage.

This would significantly increase the risk and financial burden on insurance providers, as they would be covering conditions that were not accounted for in their risk assessments and premium calculations.

Waiting periods help insurance companies manage the exclusion of pre-existing conditions— health issues that were present before the commencement of the policy. By instituting a waiting period, insurers can ensure that only new and unforeseen health problems occurring after the policy has taken effect are covered.

What Are Common Waiting Periods?

Pet insurance policies typically feature several standard waiting periods, which vary based on the type of coverage. Understanding these common waiting periods is critical for pet owners to ensure their pets are fully protected when they need it most. Here’s a breakdown of the most standard waiting periods in pet insurance:

1. Accident Coverage Waiting Period

  • Duration: Generally the shortest, ranging from 24 hours to a few days after the policy start date.
  • Purpose: Designed to cover injuries or accidents that occur unexpectedly, this waiting period is kept brief to ensure pets can quickly receive coverage for unforeseen accidents.

2. Illness Coverage Waiting Period

  • Duration: Typically ranges from 14 to 30 days from the start of the policy.
  • Purpose: This waiting period is for illnesses that develop or are diagnosed after the policy begins. The longer waiting period (compared to accidents) helps ensure that these conditions were not present or detectable before the coverage started.

3. Orthopedic Conditions Waiting Period

  • Duration: Can vary significantly, often from 6 months to a year, depending on the policy and provider.
  • Purpose: Coverage for orthopedic conditions (such as hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament issues) often requires a longer waiting period. This is because these conditions can be both costly to treat and may be pre-existing or develop slowly over time.

4. Special Conditions And Treatments Waiting Period

  • Specific Waiting Periods: Certain policies might have specific waiting periods for conditions like dental illness, breeding-related conditions, or alternative therapies.
  • Purpose: These are based on the risk and cost associated with the specific condition or treatment. Longer waiting periods for these coverages help manage the financial risk involved in insuring such conditions.

It’s important for you to carefully review the waiting periods associated with different types of coverage. Some insurance providers offer the option to reduce waiting periods under certain conditions, such as providing a health certification from a veterinarian.

Can I Get Retroactive Pet Insurance?

No, it’s not possible to obtain retroactive pet insurance to cover incidents or illnesses that occurred before the policy’s start date. Pet insurance is designed to provide coverage for unexpected future accidents, injuries, and illnesses rather than events that have already happened.

Retroactive coverage would open doors to potential fraud, where individuals could wait for an incident to occur before purchasing insurance with the intention of filing a claim immediately. This would significantly increase the risk and costs for insurance providers, leading to higher premiums for all policyholders and undermining the viability of offering pet insurance.

Is There An Emergency-Only Pet Insurance Plan?

Yes, there are emergency pet insurance plans available that specifically cover accidents and injuries, excluding illnesses. These plans are designed for pet owners who are primarily concerned with obtaining financial protection against the sudden and unforeseen costs of emergency medical treatment resulting from accidents.

For example, if a pet breaks a bone, gets hit by a car, or ingests something poisonous, an accident-only policy will help cover the veterinary bills associated with these incidents. These policies are generally more affordable than comprehensive pet insurance plans that cover both accidents and illnesses, making them an attractive option for those looking for coverage against major, unexpected veterinary expenses.

Companies With The Shortest Waiting Periods

The waiting period is a very important factor to consider when buying pet insurance because it determines how soon your coverage starts after you’ve signed up for the policy. A shorter waiting period means your pet gets covered sooner, which can be a lifesaver in unexpected situations.

Below is a comparison chart that outlines the accident and illness coverage waiting periods for various pet insurance companies:

Pet Insurance Company Accident Coverage Waiting Period Illness Coverage Waiting Period
AKC 2 days 14 days
Embrace 2 days 14 days
Figo 1 day 14 days
MetLife Immediate 14 days
Nationwide 14 days 14 days
Pets Best 3 days 14 days
Spot 14 days 14 days
Trupanion 5 days 30 days
Healthy Paws 15 days 15 days

Best Pet Insurance Companies With Short Waiting Periods

Best Overall

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claims
10/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance emerges as our top selection for the best overall pet insurance, primarily due to its offering of unlimited benefits without imposing any annual or lifetime caps, all at a competitively affordable rate. This standout feature means that pet owners can rest assured knowing their pets are covered for virtually any medical issue that arises, from minor incidents to major surgeries, without worrying about hitting coverage limits.

The absence of a ceiling on coverage allows for comprehensive protection throughout the life of the pet, ensuring that financial considerations do not hinder access to necessary veterinary care. Healthy Paws combines this extensive coverage with reasonable premiums, making it an excellent choice for pet owners seeking both thorough protection and financial viability in a pet insurance plan.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Allows you to see any specialist without a referral
  • You can visit any licensed 24-hour emergency animal hospital
  • Offers unlimited coverage with no annual or lifetime caps
  • Doesn’t offer wellness care
  • Doesn’t cover hip dysplasia during the first policy year or for dogs older than six years
  • Extends a 12-month waiting period for hip dysplasia treatments

Best For Flexible Reimbursement Rates

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
9/10 Claims
10/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Spot stands out for its flexibility and customer satisfaction, securing a rating of 9.2 out of 10 stars. What sets Spot apart is its highly customizable coverage options, making it an excellent choice for pet owners looking for tailored policies to match their pet’s unique needs. Offering six annual coverage limit options along with five deductible levels, Spot empowers pet owners with the ability to fine-tune their insurance plans and reimbursement rates. This versatility ensures that you can strike the perfect balance between securing comprehensive coverage for your pet and managing an affordable monthly premium.

Spot’s commitment to accommodating a wide range of reimbursement rates highlights its understanding of the diverse landscape of pet health concerns and owner financial situations. Whether you’re looking for minimal coverage for emergency situations or more extensive protection that includes wellness and chronic conditions, Spot’s customizable policies provide a viable solution.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Unlimited coverage option ensures coverage of all your pet’s eligible expenses
  • You can enroll older pets in a policy at any age
  • Applies a 10% discount when you insure multiple pets
  • The 14-day accident waiting period is longer than some other providers
  • Customer service only available during the week
  • No direct payment to veterinarian, policy owner reimbursement only

Best For Savings

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
9/10 Claims
9/10 Coverage Level

Why We Like Them

Embrace earns a stellar rating of 9.0 out of 10 stars, securing its position as our top choice for pet owners looking to maximize savings on their pet insurance policies. Our evaluation is based on a comprehensive review methodology that appreciates Embrace’s blend of extensive coverage options and the employment of knowledgeable veterinary professionals dedicated to policy administration. This combination ensures that pet owners receive not only financial protection but also support from experts who truly care about pet health.

Since its inception in 2003, Embrace has stood as a pioneering force in the pet insurance sector, making it one of the most experienced providers available. In collaboration with its long-standing underwriting partner, the American Modern Insurance Group, Embrace offers robust coverage for unexpected vet expenses. Additionally, it rewards proactive pet owners with benefits for maintaining the wellness of their pets.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Has a unique wellness rewards program
  • Customers can stack multiple discounts for savings up to 25% off premiums
  • Healthy pet discount allows up to 10% premium savings if you keep reimbursements under $300 annually
  • Pricing is slightly above average compared to competitors
  • May deny or cancel coverage if your pet does not receive a veterinary exam within 12 months before or 14 days after enrollment
  • Requires a specialized exam to waive the six-month orthopedic waiting period


Does all pet insurance have a waiting period?

Yes, all pet insurance policies include a waiting period. This is a standard feature across the industry to manage risk and prevent fraud.

What is a waiting period?

A waiting period in pet insurance is the time between when the policy starts and when coverage begins.

Can waiting periods be waived?

In some cases, waiting periods can be waived, often through specific promotions or if a veterinary examination confirms the pet’s good health.

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