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Is There Pet Insurance with No Waiting Period?

When you first look at a pet insurance policy, you may be excited for the relief of knowing that you won’t have to take out huge loans to pay off sudden vet bills. Only to realize there’s something called a waiting period: that pesky timeframe from when your policy is approved to when your pet is actually eligible for coverage. At that point, you may start wondering if there is such a thing as pet insurance with no waiting period. However, all pet insurance has a waiting period of some type. So below we’ll cover everything you need to know about pet insurance waiting periods and how to find the best pet insurance with a waiting period that works for you.

Why Can I Not Find Pet Insurance with No Waiting Period?

Make no mistake, all pet insurance policies have a waiting period. Embrace Pet Insurance, one of the largest pet insurers in the U.S., defines a waiting period as the “time at the beginning of the policy when coverage is restricted.”  

According to Embrace, pet insurance companies put waiting periods in place so that people don’t notice a certain symptom in their pet and then sign up their pet for insurance at that point. Pet insurers operate as a safety net for unforeseen illness and injury to a pet. To put it bluntly, if everyone signed up for insurance the second they were sick, and only if they were sick, it would put the insurance companies in financial jeopardy. Hence why you cannot find pet insurance with no waiting period.

Waiting periods typically fall into two types. One type covers different conditions under different waiting period terms. For instance, Embrace’s method has a 14-day waiting period for illnesses, a 48-hour waiting period for accidents and a six-month waiting period for orthopedic conditions.  

Another common method is to have a certain waiting period for all conditions, like a 14-day waiting period, as is the case with Nationwide’s whole pet with wellness and major medical plans. However, for the pet wellness plan, coverage begins 24 hours after the policy has been issued and payment has been received.

So while all pet insurance has a waiting period of some sort, as you can see, timeframes can vary drastically. If you don’t like the idea of paying for coverage you’re not receiving, as is the case with 6-month orthopedic waiting periods, you can simply find a policy with a shorter waiting period.

>>MORE: Finding the Best Pet Dental Insurance

The Best Pet Insurance Companies with Short Waiting Periods

Since there is not any pet insurance with no waiting period, below we’ve listed the top pet insurers and their waiting periods for your comparison. That way, you can make an informed decision on what company works best for you if you’re concerned about those waiting periods.   

If you really don’t like the idea of a long waiting period, your best bet would be the Pet Partners certificate system or Nationwide’s pet wellness plan with only a 24-hour waiting period. See details below:

Pet Partners Insurance: Pet Partners allows people to get started on the plan with a 30-day certificate for newly adopted animals or animals that received a vet exam. Under the certificate, there is a one day waiting period for accidents and a five-day waiting period for illnesses. If you go onto the main plan from the certificate, you don’t have to re-start waiting periods.  

Nationwide / VPI Pet Insurance: 14-day waiting period for whole pet with wellness plan and major medical plan, 24-hour waiting period for the pet wellness plan.

Embrace Pet Insurance: 14 days for illnesses, 48 hours for accidents and six months for orthopedic conditions.

Figo Pet Insurance: Waiting periods with Figo vary by state.

ASPCA Pet Insurance: A sample policy for Wisconsin lists 14 days for all conditions including accidents, illnesses and ligament and knee conditions under the complete coverage and accident-only plans. 

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance: There’s a 15-day waiting period after the policy effective date. 

Pets Best Pet Insurance: Waiting periods are three days for accidents, 14 days for illnesses and six months for cruciate ligament events.  

Trupanion: Trupanion has five days for injuries and 30 days for illnesses.  

PetFirst Pet Insurance: There’s a 14-day illness waiting period, which extends to conditions like hip dysplasia.  

Petplan Insurance: Petplan has a 15-day waiting period after the effective date for injury and illness. Hip dysplasia, cruciates and patellas have a six-month waiting period. May vary by state.

>>MORE: Pet Insurance that Covers Preventative Care

How Waiting Periods and Pre-Existing Conditions Work Together

When looking at waiting periods, you may also see talk of pre-existing conditions. These are conditions that manifest before coverage starts and are typically not eligible for coverage under pet insurance plans.  

What can make this confusing is that if an injury happens or an illness develops during the waiting period, that is also deemed pre-existing. For instance, Trupanion has its five-day waiting period for injuries and 30-day waiting period for illnesses. That means if an injury happens during the 5-day waiting period or an illness develops during the 30-day waiting period, they are considered pre-existing and are not eligible for coverage.   

What to Do If Your Pet is Sick Now

Many people don’t consider something like a pet insurance with no waiting period until their pet needs care for an injury or illness. They may not have known how pricey vet bills can get in their area or maybe they just hadn’t thought of it until that point. Then if you go to the pet insurance websites, they all tell you pre-existing conditions aren’t covered, and also there’s a waiting period. Some even state that it’s important to get a pet on a policy before the pet is sick, but that doesn’t help right now.

If you are in a position where your pet is sick, and you’re having trouble affording the care, there are a few things you can do:

  • Talk to your vet’s office about your situation. They may know of reimbursement programs and discounts. They may also be able to work out payment terms if you are in good standing with them.   
  • Look into low-cost veterinary services, like veterinary schools or county services. Your local shelter may also know of vets who work for lower prices.
  • Consider promotional credit options, like Care Credit’s promotions that don’t have interest if you pay off your balance in a certain time frame.

Once you can afford it, you can reconsider signing up the pet for insurance coverage before something goes wrong.

Final Thoughts:

  • All pet insurance companies have some form of a waiting period for their plans. Simply put, there is no such thing as pet insurance with no waiting period. This is to make sure people don’t sign up for pet insurance only when their pet is sick, which puts a large financial strain on the insurance company.
  • Pet insurance companies vary in how long their waiting periods are, from 24 hours on the low end to six months for ligament conditions on the high end. It’s important to weigh your coverage options with what kind of waiting periods you may be subjected to.
  • If an injury or illness happens during the waiting period, that is often considered a pre-existing condition and is not eligible for coverage.
  • If your pet is sick now, you have other options like working a payment plan out with your vet, finding discounts and promotions and working with low-cost vet services.
  • Waiting periods are another reason why it’s important to get your pet on a pet insurance plan when they are still healthy.
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