black and white australian collie dog sick under red blanket - he may have a pre-existing condition

Pre-Existing Conditions and Pet Insurance – Where Do You Stand?


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Can dogs or cats with pre-existing conditions get pet insurance in New Zealand? Generally speaking, pre-existing conditions in either won’t be covered by pet insurance here. But hang on a second! That doesn’t mean you can’t get your furkid an insurance policy.

It just means they won’t be covered for health issues that emerged before you took the policy out.

You wouldn’t be able to claim for a car accident that happened six months before you took out car insurance, right? The same is true for pet insurance.

Like most insurance, pet insurance does cover plenty of things that happen after you got the policy. So, where does that leave you as the owner of a dog or cat with a pre-existing condition?

Questions about pre-existing conditions

So, you probably won’t be able to get cover for pre-existing conditions in dogs or cats. Why? The likelihood of you claiming for that condition again is pretty high and the insurance landscape is all about managing risk.

What next?

We know you’re probably still scratching your head, wondering “what counts as something a pet insurance provider would usually exclude versus something they wouldn’t? Is pet insurance even worth it if there isn’t cover for existing problems? What can you do about a pre-existing condition? Is there still a way to secure some kind of financial protection against vet bills?.” And so on.

We have the answers for you.

dog paws on human hands with fur which looks like a heart. Represents the importance of pet insurance to protect your dog, even if they have a pre-existing condition

What are pre-existing conditions in dog insurance?

In New Zealand, humans get healthcare perks. Our medical care is heavily subsidised by the government, but this isn’t the case for pets.

No public health benefits for pets

While you won’t pay a fortune to have your broken arm fixed, the costs involved with the use of appropriate equipment and materials, the time and care provided to you by several professionals, the admin efforts of front of house staff, etc, are actually quite substantial. We just don’t have to pay ‘out of pocket’, fortunately.

But with pets, there are no such subsidies. Which is a shame, because in our books pets are basically as important as humans. And definitely cuter! Luckily, you don’t have to foot the entire bill alone. This is where pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance and pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing conditions are conditions that your dog or cat already has when you take out your policy, or which start during the waiting period. If the illness or problem is there before you’re fully covered by insurance, it’s a pre-existing condition.

For example, hip dysplasia in dogs. If you don’t have pet insurance and you take your German Shepherd to the vet because they’re struggling to walk and the vet diagnoses hip dysplasia, this is a pre-existing condition. The same applies if symptoms appear during the waiting period. This means that you won’t have cover for any claims or bills related to hip dysplasia because it existed prior to pup being insured.

If you already had dog insurance and your waiting periods were over, it’s different. Let’s say you noticed a few months down the line that your dog was struggling, then visited the vet. Hip dysplaysia diagnosed at that point wouldn’t be ‘pre-existing’. Your dog developed the problem after your policy was active.

That’s why it’s important to get pet insurance early, while they’re young and healthy. Being conditions emerge.

So what pre-existing conditions in dogs and cats are fairly common?

Russian blue sits on cat mum's shoulder

What are pre-existing conditions in dogs and cats?

Firstly, there’s a difference between congenital conditions and pre-existing conditions. Same goes for hereditary vs pre-existing.

Congenital and hereditary conditions explained

In congenital conditions, there’s an abnormality present at birth though symptoms may or may not show at that time. Either way, congenital abnormalities or developmental defects present at birth that develop throughout your pet’s life aren’t covered by insurance.

As for hereditary conditions, after a waiting period PD Insurance does cover these under our Classic and Deluxe Plans. As long as the condition wasn’t present prior to commencing your cover (aka pre-existing), or during any applicable waiting periods, it’s covered.

For more information on hereditary and congenital conditions here’s a really informative article.

Delving into pre-existing conditions

So what conditions count as pre-existing? There are no hard and fast rules to define pre-existing conditions in dogs and cats. But generally, any medical problem starting before the policy was active counts. Common pre-existing conditions include cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, and allergies.

If signs and symptoms only appear after any waiting periods are completed then PD Insurance will usually cover the condition if it’s not considered congenital.

Waiting periods differ from one condition to another. Our policy wording document gives you an overview of the different waiting periods applicable, as does our FAQ.

Are allergies covered?

Allergies are often pre-existing, with cat and dog skin conditions ranging from eczema and fleas to dermatitis. If these allergies were problematic before you took out insurance, most providers won’t cover your pet.

So if you take out a policy for your chronically-itchy dog who struggles with dermatitis, you won’t be covered for allergy medicine or a consultation around their skin conditions.

On the other hand, let’s say pup is out playing. A spider bites him, causing an allergic reaction. In this example, there’s cover for the treatment. Why? Because this incident isn’t related to a pre-existing condition.  

The good news is PD Insurance does cover allergies as long as they weren’t pre-existing. In fact, allergy-related claims were very common in 2021. They took second place in our list of top claim types for the year.

dog and cat sitting on reading shelf ponder pre-existing conditions in dogs and cats

Can I get still get pet insurance?

If your cat or dog has a pre-existing condition, it doesn’t stop them from getting a wide range of insurance coverage. And if you’re wondering whether pet insurance is worth it when there are exclusions, the simple answer is yes.

A pet with diabetes could still benefit from cover which protects them if they break a bone in a fall, contract a virus, or eat a poisonous karaka berry, for example.

The best plan is still to take out dog insurance or cat insurance as soon as you can. If you secure insurance before your precious pet develops health problems, most things will be covered when something goes awry.

Plus, if you have a puppy or kitten joining your family, know that we give a bonus free insurance period when you join the PD family online.

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