When Is the Best Time To Buy Pet Insurance?

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7 min read

Updated - Aug 25th, 2022

Whether you’re a new puppy parent or an experienced cat owner, you might be wondering when to get pet insurance. If your pet is relatively healthy and young, getting a pet insurance plan may feel unnecessary, but this is actually the best time to get coverage.

It’s a common misconception that pets don’t need pet insurance until they’re older or more at risk for illness, but the truth is that the older pets get, the harder it may be to get reimbursed for vet bills due to things like upper age limits and pre-existing conditions.

So, when is the best time to get pet insurance? 

The short answer is as soon as possible. Let’s dig into why!

1. Accidents & illnesses happen more often than you think

If you’re an experienced pet owner, you know that our furry friends have a way of getting into mischief more often than we’d like. But if you’re a new pet parent, you may not have experienced this firsthand.

Whether they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t or gotten a particularly nasty bug bite, pets get hurt or sick more often than you’d think. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself bound for a sudden vet visit to get your fur baby the care they need. Unfortunately, some health issues will be more serious (and expensive) than others, and when that time comes, the last thing you want to be worried about is the cost of care.

50% of pet owners in a recent study said their pets had a serious accident or illness that required a vet visit in the last 18 months!*

The sooner you have a pet insurance plan with extensive accident and illness coverage, the sooner you’ll have help protecting your pet.

Regular preventive care throughout your pet’s life is a key factor in keeping them healthy. With Pumpkin, you can also purchase an optional wellness package called Preventive Essentials as an add-on to a Pumpkin plan. While not insurance, this wellness package is an optional benefit that offers refunds for select routine care services. This type of package can help you keep up with the preventive aspects of your pet’s health care.

2. The longer you wait, the more pre-existing conditions may pile up

When shopping around for a dog insurance or cat insurance plan, you’ll likely come across the term pre-existing conditions. Most pet insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions – these are illnesses or injuries that occur or show symptoms before your pet insurance plan coverage starts or during a waiting period. Depending on your pet insurance policy terms, waiting periods can be as short as a few days or as long as a few months.

All of this to say, the longer you wait to get pet insurance, the higher the chances of your pet getting sick or hurt before they get pet insurance coverage, which means you may not get reimbursed for certain conditions because they will be considered pre-existing. 

Signing up for pet insurance when your pet is young, prior to developing any illnesses or having any accidents, makes it more likely they can have coverage for a greater number of eligible conditions that may arise later. Enrolling your pet as soon as they’re eligible can help you secure optimal accident & illness coverage over their life. With Pumpkin plans, all pets eight weeks and older can sign up.

With Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans, all puppies and kittens eight weeks and older can sign up. There are no breed restrictions, no preventive care requirements, and every pet enrolled gets 90% cash back on eligible vet bills.

3. Younger pets tend to have less expensive pet insurance premiums while they’re young

Generally speaking, the younger your pet is, the less expensive their pet insurance plan might be compared to when they’re older. However, keep in mind that your pet insurance plan premium may increase as your pet gets older, even if you enrolled them when they were young.

Of course, how much your pet insurance costs depends on other factors, too. From where you live, to your plan type, to your pet’s breed and size, more goes into the price of your annual or monthly premium than just age. However, because older pets are more prone to health problems, their plans tend to be more expensive. Younger pets, on the other hand, have their whole lives ahead of them!

Enrolling in a pet insurance plan when your dog or cat is still a youngster helps give them the best chance at leading a long and healthy life.

When you get a free quote for a Pumpkin pet insurance plan, before you select your plan, you can change the options for your annual deductible, or annual coverage limit, to see how that affects your total premium cost and find a solution that works for you.

4. It can make a life-saving difference in the face of a covered emergency

For many of us animal lovers, our pets are family, so when sudden emergencies related to accidents or illnesses happen, it can be a stressful and heartbreaking experience.

Whether your pet has ingested poison or injured themself in a freak hiking accident, sometimes emergency medical care is needed in an instant. The last thing you want to do is hesitate to agree to the best care for your pet, but costs can be overwhelming – sometimes care for serious emergencies can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. The prospect of putting a sudden large sum on your credit card can add to the immense stress you’re already feeling.

Did you know, as many as 1 in 3 pets will need emergency veterinary treatment each year?**

When you and your pet find yourselves in the vet’s exam room, you want to be able to say ‘yes’ to that life-saving surgery or chemotherapy treatment. Pet insurance can help give you the financial support you need to do whatever it takes for your pet when they need eligible vet care for a covered condition. Some pet insurance plan services can let you know if treatment is covered at an expedited speed in the event of an emergency.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Paws down, pet insurance is absolutely worth it! The help it can give you to protect your pet in the event of an unexpected accident or illness is immense. 

Sometimes, it helps to think of more tangible examples to see the value of pet insurance. Here are just a few things pet insurance may cover:

Pet insurance plan options can also cover the costs of crucial veterinary treatments and diagnostics for covered conditions, such as:

  • Sick visit exam fees, in person and virtual
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery and specialized care
  • Prescription medication
  • Prescription food and supplements
  • Alternative therapies (like acupuncture)

There are some things that pet insurance policies may not reimburse you for. Those exclusions often include things like: 

  • Grooming 
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Preventive care such as annual checkup fees, vaccines, or spaying or neutering procedures 
  • Treatment for pre-existing conditions, hereditary conditions, and congenital conditions

If I purchase pet insurance today, will it become effective immediately?  

Bear in mind that when you purchase a pet insurance plan, the coverage most likely will not become effective immediately. 

Most pet insurance plans have a waiting period between the policy’s start date and when the policy’s coverage begins. Those plans will probably only cover illnesses or accidents that occur after the waiting period is over and coverage starts. 

Upholding a waiting period helps keep premiums lower in cost, potentially benefiting all policyholders. 

With Pumpkin plans, the waiting for all accidents & illnesses is a short 14 days.

What is the best pet insurance for me?

Ultimately, the best pet insurance plan for you will have the best coverage for your pet’s unique needs, while also remaining within your budget. Just like human health insurance, there is no magical, catch-all policy, but what your pet insurance covers is equally as important as insurance premiums and annual limits. When you’re in the planning and evaluation phase, be sure to read the pet insurance sample plan closely, and reach out if you have any questions.

Plus, it couldn’t be easier to get a pet insurance quote! Most companies will calculate an initial cost for you free of charge, and you can get a quote in seconds.

Choose pet insurance that loves your pet as much as you do

At the end of the day, purchasing pet insurance for your fur family member helps you provide them with the best care possible over their life. That means pet insurance is by your side for the hard decisions and difficult payments, and is there to support you when the unexpected happens.

All pet parents deserve to be able to say ‘yes’ to high-quality veterinary care, and be able to focus less on cost. That’s why Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans give you 90% cash back on all eligible vet bills, so you have help resting easy knowing your pet is in great hands.

*Pumpkin, “The Cost of Caring for a Dog: Perception vs Reality.” pumpkin.care/blog, Sept 2021. **Horch, AJ, “Most Americans own a pet, but not the insurance 1 in 3 faithful companions will need.” cnbc.com, last updated June 2019.


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.

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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