Pet Insurance & Waiting Periods

What is a waiting period? How long do I have to wait to claim? Why are there waiting periods in my policy? The answers to the questions you’re asking…

When it comes to a pet insurance policy, it can often be difficult to understand all of the legal lingo.

Your insurance policy is basically a legally binding document between you and your insurer. This is why there are several terms and conditions stipulated in this.

Trying to understand and make sense of this document is not easy, which is why we decided to write this expert guide on waiting periods – a common question among pet policy clients.

What is a waiting period? A simple explanation

A waiting period is a specified amount of time that HAS to pass before you can claim from your insurer. Simply put – you cannot claim during this period of time. A waiting period will start as soon as you take out your policy and will only apply to certain conditions and claims.

Let’s get into the details of waiting periods…

Why does my pet insurer have waiting periods?

Every pet insurance policy has one or more waiting periods. The general purpose of a waiting period is to prevent you from only getting pet insurance because your pet is sick. For example, you notice something is wrong with your precious Bruno, and for this reason alone, purchase a pet insurance policy to help cover the costs of vet bills.

A waiting period also takes pre-existing conditions into account.

Any injury or illness noticed or treated by you as the pet owner or your vet BEFORE your pet insurance policy started will be classified as a pre-existing condition and you will have to wait before you can claim for these vet bills.

So, if your dog has recently been diagnosed with cancer and you need funds to help pay for treatment and chronic medication, you will not be able to use a new pet health cover plan for this.

How long do I have to wait until I can make a claim?

Policies may differ on how long you have to wait until you can make a certain type of claim.
In most cases, accidents are immediately covered, and long-term conditions and illnesses are not covered until the waiting period has passed.

What factors affect waiting periods?

There are also certain factors that may affect your waiting period, these include:

  • Certain health conditions of your pet
  • The breed of your pet
  • Your insurer and policy type

How are waiting periods affected if I change policies?

If you want to switch to a different insurer, maybe you can no longer afford your current plan or want a more comprehensive pet healthcare plan, then you need to know how this will affect your waiting periods.

If you change insurers, you will have to wait out a NEW waiting period. This means that your pet will not have cover for certain claims during this period of time.

For this reason alone, it’s important to choose a pet insurer that includes all the benefits you are after and, more importantly, insure your pet when she is still young and in good health. When you have pet insurance when your pet is still young, any issues that develop as she gets older will typically be covered under your policy.

An example of pet insurance waiting periods

I reached out to the guys over at Oneplan to find out their waiting periods. Here’s what their policy document states:
Waiting periods for Oneplan pet cover benefits:

  • Vet Visits: 30 days (14-day waiting period in between vet visits)
  • Routine Care: 30 days
  • Kennel Cover: 3 months
  • Accident Cover: None
  • Illness Cover: 3 months

Conditions not covered in the first 12 months of your Oneplan pet insurance policy
For dogs:

  • Congenital (disease your pet is born with)
  • Hereditary (inherited condition from parents)
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Spaying/Neutering indicated due to a specific medical condition
  • Addison’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Heart/Kidney disease
  • Liver/Pancreas disease
  • Skin conditions
  • Tumours/masses (growths)
  • Eye surgery
  • Back/spinal/vertebral/disc conditions
  • Hip/femoral head, knee, elbow, shoulder and/or ligament surgery

For cats:

  • Congenital (disease your pet is born with)
  • Hereditary (inherited condition from parents)
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Spaying/Neutering indicated due to a specific medical condition
  • Bladder stones
  • Bladder surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pancreatitis
  • Renal failure
  • Tumours/masses (growths)
  • Lymphoma
  • Eye surgery

Make sure you read the fine print

It’s important to understand exactly what you are covered for and what you are not. Make sure you read your contract and flag any concerns you may have with your insurer.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out as much as you can about your policy and potential insurer.

Until next time,
The Team