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What is a pre-existing condition?

dog on couch with male owner

Basically, a pre-existing condition is any illness or injury that first occurred or showed symptoms of, before the pet’s first date of policy coverage or during any applicable waiting period.

Why are these important to understand? Pet Circle Insurance, just like most other pet insurance policies, has an exclusion for pre-existing conditions. This means that there is no cover for vet costs associated with the treatment of a pre-existing condition.

Pet insurance is designed to cover for unexpected events, so if a condition has occurred before insurance cover has started, it is likely the pet will have this condition again in the future; making it predictable and not an unexpected event. Pre-existing condition exclusions are there to prevent people taking out insurance after their pet becomes sick or injured.

Further details about pre-existing conditions to be aware of

  • Bilateral Conditions. If there is an issue with your pet’s right knee, the same issue happening in the left knee will be considered as a pre-existing condition. The reason for the bilateral link is because we know that when a condition affects one side of the body, it is highly likely the other side will also be affected.
  • Related, Secondary or as a result of the initial condition. For example if your pet has diabetes as a pre-existing condition and they then develop cataracts, this would be considered a pre-existing condition as well, as certain conditions have a high likelihood of triggering secondary conditions.

An example : If you take out pet insurance for your dog and they develop an itchy ear so you take them to the vet and they are diagnosed with an ear infection and given some medication.

However, if your dog had an ear infection before you purchased pet insurance, then this subsequent ear infection will not be covered as the condition would be pre-existing, since your dog had previously had an ear infection.

Other common examples of pre-existing conditions are diarrhoea, lameness, skin infections or skin conditions and eye illnesses. To reiterate, if your pet has had signs of a condition, or diagnosed with an illness prior to policy purchase, or during an exclusion period, they will not be covered for the condition as it will be considered as a pre-existing condition.

How are pre-existing conditions determined?

Pet Circle Insurance aims to keep things as simple and clear as possible for pet parents. A pre-existing condition assessment can be performed after purchase of your policy to help you understand what conditions we may determine to be pre-existing conditions. This will be determined through assessing any veterinary history and documentation for your pet.

After the pre-existing condition assessment, we will also let you know if any conditions can be reviewed and from what future date this can be reviewed. We understand that some conditions can be treated and cured and so we do allow some conditions to be reviewed at a later day in our effort to have a fair and transparent product. If a pre-existing condition is not reviewable, it will be permanently excluded from your cover.

An important addition is that a pre-existing condition can only be assessed on currently available information. Meaning that even if we haven’t listed a condition as a pre-existing condition, it may be considered a pre-existing condition at a later stage through additional information. An example would be if your pet has itchy skin before your policy started and is later diagnosed with a skin allergy then the exclusion may be changed to include ear allergies and skin infections as pre-existing conditions.

Dr Angie with Axel

Written by Dr. Angie, the brilliant veterinary mind behind Pet Circle Insurance. With over 15 years of experience in the veterinary field and hands-on experience in handling insurance claims, Angie is a trusted and reliable source of truth when it comes to all things pet-related. Her passion for small animal medicine, nutrition, and the human-animal bond shines through in her work with the Pet Circle Veterinary Squad, where she provides top-notch advice and support to pet owners.