Updated - Oct 14th, 2022
When shopping for pet insurance, pet parents might feel frustrated by the waiting period that accompanies policies. You made the great decision to seek out a pet insurance policy for your pet, did all the research – and now you have to wait?
Before selecting a pet insurance policy, it’s important to understand why pet insurance plans have a waiting period and to know common waiting period lengths. That way, you can make the ideal choice for your pet.
What is a pet insurance waiting period?
A waiting period is the amount of time between when your pet insurance policy starts and when that policy’s coverage kicks in.
Pet insurance is intended to only cover illnesses and accidents that occur after the waiting period is complete. It won’t cover pre-existing conditions or any accidents or illnesses that arise before your accident and illness coverage starts or during the waiting period.
What is the length of a waiting period?
Waiting periods vary from plan to plan, but a common length is around 14 or 15 days. Some plans require longer waiting periods, and those that offer shorter waiting periods are sometimes accident-only policies that do not cover illnesses.
There are also some pet insurance plans with a much longer waiting period – sometimes six months to a year – for policies that cover orthopedic conditions like hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament injuries.
Why have a waiting period?
Pet insurance providers put waiting periods in place to ultimately help protect the pet insurance company from cases of attempted fraud.
Say you’re out walking with a friend. You’ve brought your dog Kelsie and your friend is walking her pooch, Pickles. Curious Pickles sticks her snout deep into a bush – where a skunk is sleeping. The tough skunk fights off Kelsie and Pickles, leaving scratches and bite marks.
To ensure your pups haven’t contracted rabies, you and your friend rush them to the vet. Luckily, you bought pet insurance months ago; unfortunately, your friend has been putting off the purchase. Even if your friend realizes the importance of pet insurance and signs up for a policy en route to the vet hospital, the vet bills for Pickles won’t be covered this time because it happened before coverage started and because of the mandatory waiting period.
While the waiting period might be rough on your friend’s wallet, it can be better for all policyholders. Pet insurance is meant to offer protection in case your pet suffers an accident or illness. If people waited to buy pet insurance until their pets were sick or hurt, the insurance company may need to increase premium rates in order to sufficiently fund that type of coverage.
Beyond safeguarding the pet insurance company, the waiting period also helps keep monthly pet insurance premiums to a minimum.
How critical of a factor is the waiting period when choosing my pet’s plan?
While it’s important to consider a policy’s waiting period before you purchase, perhaps even more essential is that the pet insurance you choose provides the best, most complete coverage for your furry family member.
Key differentiators to note when shopping for a pet insurance policy include reimbursement rates, dental coverage options, exam fee coverage options, alternative/physical therapy coverage options, and whether preventive care and vaccinations are required for the policy to cover certain illnesses.
You should also research the policy’s deductible, and read your plan’s exclusions description or coverage limits so you won’t be surprised later if your claim gets denied. Some policies and add-on wellness packages or plans can help reimburse you for routine care such as vaccinations, diagnostic tests like parasite screenings, and your annual wellness exam fee.
Before deciding on a policy, compare the coverage and cost of pet insurance to make an informed choice.
When is the best time to purchase pet insurance?
The short answer is now, or as soon as you can! Like Kelsie and Pickles, none of us know the cards we’ll be dealt, so it’s wise to prepare now for accidents and unexpected illnesses that might happen in the future.
It’s a hard truth, but our pets are likely to suffer ailments, injuries, and illness as they age. Having cat or dog insurance in place can help ease financial stress so you can spend more time enjoying life with your pet and less time worrying about costs. Plus, you can feel peace of mind knowing your pet has help getting the veterinary care they may need over their lifetime.
Eager to find pet insurance coverage for your canine or feline friend? Fetch a free quote from Pumpkin today!