Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period: Does it exist?

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9 min read
9 min read

Updated - Mar 16th, 2023

Key Points

  • A waiting period is the time between the day you purchase your pet insurance plan and the day your coverage goes into effect.
  • A pet insurance plan without a waiting period is rare.
  • Waiting periods can vary in length depending on your plan and pet insurance provider
  • Most major pet insurance providers’ including the ASPCA, AKC, Trupanion, Embrace, Healthy Paws, Figo, and Fetch by the Dodo offer plans with a waiting period in most states.

Imagine your pup decides to snack on your rug while you’re at work, and now you need pet insurance coverage for emergency fabric-removal surgery, ASAP! After doing research, you might come to the frustrating realization that almost most pet insurance plans have a waiting period before your pet insurance coverage kicks in. 

You may wonder, “Is there a pet insurance plan with no waiting period? If there is, how can I enroll?” Before you jump ship, know that it’s extremely rare to find a pet insurance plan without a waiting period in most states. Here, we’re explaining why that’s the case and how waiting periods work. 

What is a waiting period?

Pet insurance waiting periods refer to the time between the day your pet insurance plan starts and the day your coverage begins. The day coverage begins is called your policy effective date. Accidents & illnesses that are pre-existing or that occur during a waiting period won’t be covered by most pet insurance plans. Once this waiting period is over and coverage begins, you can start filing reimbursement claims for eligible vet bills.

How long is a waiting period?

Waiting periods can vary for each plan offered by a different pet insurance provider. You can find a plan’s waiting period information on the provider’s website, usually in their FAQs or in their sample policies. Be mindful that waiting periods for some plans are longer for specific conditions, such as hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament injuries.

Does pet insurance with no waiting period exist? 

There are currently almost no pet insurance plans without waiting periods. Different plans may have waiting periods of various lengths, but most major pet insurance providers’ plans have waiting periods. Some plans have a waiting period waiver for certain conditions if your pet can meet specific criteria, such as providing proof that no cruciate ligament injuries are present. Most pet insurance plans set a standard waiting period before your coverage begins.

Why do pet insurance plans have waiting periods? 

It might be frustrating to find out that pet insurance plans require a waiting period, especially during a serious or emergency situation. 

An important reason pet insurance providers have a waiting period is to protect their company from potential insurance fraud. Waiting periods help ensure that all coverage is saved for eligible accidents or illnesses in the future only. Ultimately, waiting periods help ensure that pet owners applying for insurance are planning for their pet’s future rather than current or past accidents & illnesses that have already occurred. They also help ensure that coverage is fair and equal for all policyholders.

What happens if a condition develops during a waiting period?

If a condition occurs, develops, or shows symptoms before coverage starts or during your pet insurance plan’s waiting period, it will not be covered by most plans. Your pet insurance plan will also probably not cover any conditions that developed prior to your enrollment. If you look back at your vet records from your pet’s annual exams, it may reveal a few pre-existing conditions.

How long will I have to wait before my pet is covered?

Waiting periods vary and depend on the policy terms of your pet insurance plan. Each plan will have its own standards for waiting periods and what they will cover under a specific plan, and waiting periods could range from two weeks to one year.

Waiting periods for most accidents and illnesses usually only take a matter of weeks. Some specific conditions, like orthopedic conditions such as knee and ligament conditions, may have longer waiting periods that can take six months or even one year.

With Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans, the waiting period is the same for all accidents & illnesses – a short 14 days. This includes hip dysplasia, cancer, and orthopedic conditions. Some plans, like Nationwide Whole Pet or Major Medical insurance plans, have a 365-day waiting period for knee injury coverage. 

To compare pet insurance plan waiting periods, check out our chart on this page. Or, if you’d like to check out specific pet insurance plans, you can read our comparison page for Embrace pet insurance plans, Lemonade pet insurance plans, Figo pet insurance plans, Trupanion pet insurance plans, and others.

What happens if I change my pet’s insurance policy or provider?

When changing pet insurance plans, there will likely be a new waiting period when you take out the new pet insurance policy. If you plan on switching plans, a new waiting period may be imposed, but depending on the plan, you might be able to waive the waiting period by showing proof of coverage from your previous plan.

Each pet insurance plan may handle waiting periods differently, so it’s best to check with the provider to make sure you understand the process and what will happen before you switch.

Do wellness plans or packages have waiting periods?

Some providers who offer wellness coverage options will have a separate waiting period for preventive care and wellness services, which is often shorter than the insurance waiting period. You may hear the terms routine care, preventive care, and wellness care used interchangeably in reference to this type of benefit. Annual exams, vaccinations, and parasite testing are some examples of services that may be included in preventive care coverage.

What are the waiting periods for different pet insurance providers’ plans?

You may be wondering, who has the shortest waiting period? You’ll notice that accident-only insurance plans can have shorter waiting periods than plans with more comprehensive coverage for accidents and illnesses. We have compiled detailed comparison charts for major pet insurance plans here that you can review to help you make the right choice for your needs.

Other pet insurance FAQS

What is pet insurance?

When it comes to our pets, you never know when a sudden illness or injury will strike. Our pets have a habit of getting into mischief that can sometimes put them in harm’s way. From eating your socks to jumping off your dining room table, there are many surprising situations that could lead to an unexpected vet visit. That’s where pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance plans can help cover eligible vet bills if your pet unexpectedly gets sick or hurt. These plan options help ensure that your pet can get the treatment and care they need when faced with an unexpected illness or injury. Pet insurance plan options can cover eligible costs associated with medication, surgery, and other treatments for accidents & illnesses, depending on the plan.

What is a pre-existing condition and why are they excluded?

Simply put, pre-existing conditions are conditions that occurred or showed symptoms before your insurance coverage begins or during the waiting period. They are among the common exclusions in pet insurance coverage.

Because they pre-date the start of your pet insurance plan coverage, pre-existing conditions are not covered by most pet insurance plans. However, with some plans (like Pumpkin plans!) an injury or illness will no longer be considered pre‑existing if it’s curable, was cured, and has been free of treatment & symptoms for 180 days – except knee & ligament conditions. If a knee or ligament condition occurs before the coverage starts or during a waiting period, any future ones won’t be covered.

Why do some providers call it pet health insurance?

Some pet insurance providers use ‘pet health insurance’ to refer to their plans, but this generally isn’t the most accurate description. Pet insurance plans are not in the same insurance category as human health insurance plans. It may seem odd, but pet insurance actually falls under property & casualty insurance. You’ll also see the terms ‘pet insurance companies’ and ‘pet insurance providers’ used interchangeably in online resources.

How much does pet insurance cost?

The cost of a pet insurance premium is typically calculated based on your plan type, the pet’s species, breed, age, and location. The quickest and easiest way to compare pet insurance prices is to fill out a free quote online. If a quote works for you, you can buy pet insurance plans right there on the provider’s website.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Pet insurance is absolutely worth it for your pet because it can help you to access better care for them when sudden accidents and illnesses occur. We never want to think about a severe illness or injury happening to our pets, but if it does, it’s comforting to know you have assistance paying costly, eligible vet bills for their care and treatment.

How do I choose the best pet insurance for my pet?

Every pet has unique needs and every pet owner has a different budget, which is why it’s important to consider your options carefully and make sure the plan you select is a great fit for your pet’s healthcare needs. The good news is that advancements in veterinary medicine make it possible for our pets to live longer and healthier lives now more than ever – and a good pet insurance plan can help you say ‘yes’ to the care they need. 

We’d love to say there’s an easy answer, but there are many choices available to you so it can make choosing one plan quite hard. Each pet insurance plan has different coverage, so before you enroll in one, delve deep into those pet insurance policies. Pet insurance providers’ websites and sample policy documents are a great place to start.

It’s always a good idea to get pet insurance quotes and read pet insurance reviews before signing any up for a plan. Pets can be sneaky – but your pet insurance shouldn’t be! By carefully comparing different providers, you can find the best pet insurance coverage for you and your pet. 

Where can I learn more about enrolling in a pet insurance plan?

With so many options for different pet insurance plans and providers, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, we’re here to help! Pumpkin offers a no-frills comparison guide that breaks down the differences between many pet insurance providers and the plans they offer.

It’s essential to thoroughly check any pet insurance provider’s plan policy to make sure it can support your pet’s needs. After all, every pet parent wants to make sure their furry friend is happy and healthy for years to come! 

And how do Pumpkin plans stand out from the pack? Here are just a few ways:

  • 90% cash back on all eligible vet bills
  • Super-extensive accident & illness coverage
  • See any licensed veterinarian in the US or CAN
  • Short 14-day waiting period for all accidents & illnesses
  • Flexible deductible and annual limit options
  • ALL pets age 8 wks and up are eligible to enroll
  • No upper age limits or breed restrictions, ever
  • Pet-obsessed Care Team ready to help with your questions and insurance claims
  • 10% multi-pet discount for each additional pet you enroll.
  • Wellness package called Preventive Essentials. It’s not insurance, but an optional add-on benefit

Get a free quote today from Pumpkin and take the first step to help get your pet the best care!


Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses. COMPARISON INFORMATION: Comparison information is provided using publicly available information as of 11/21/2021 and is only meant to summarize program features, not a specific plan. Review the provider’s plan terms for more details. The description of the providers’ plans are not provided by that company. If you have questions about other plans, please contact an agent of that company. It is our intention to provide fair and accurate comparison information. We attempt to keep information up to date but it may change from time to time. If you are aware of any inaccuracies or changes in the information provided, let us know by emailing [email protected]

Pumpkin Team

Pumpkin Team

Passionate Pet Experts & Parents
We are a team of writers, designers & product developers who all double as passionate (ok, obsessive) nerds of the pet world.
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