The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

Does Pet Insurance Start Immediately?

Compare Cheap Pet Insurance

Pet cover can help with vet bills. Protect your dog or cat today.

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How soon you can take your dog or cat to the vet after buying pet insurance? Pet insurance plans are effective anywhere from immediately up to as long as 15 days after the start of the policy, with terms varying from company to company—also, accidental injury is usually covered sooner than illness.

Table of Contents

When Does Pet Insurance Take Effect?

Your pet isn't covered on a new pet insurance policy until an initial waiting period has passed. Illnesses and injuries that occur or show signs before or during the waiting period will not be covered by insurance at any point.

The waiting period for illnesses is typically between 10 days and 15 days, with most plans imposing a 14 day waiting period for illnesses. The wait period for injuries due to accidents is nearly always shorter. Around half of the plans we studied had an immediate start for accidents, with no waiting period at all. The waiting period for accidents on the other plans ranged from 24 hours up to 15 days.

Does pet insurance start immediately?LowHigh
Accidental injury10 days15 days
IllnessImmediate cover15 days

To help you compare pet insurance companies in terms of when they become effective, we've gathered data from over two dozen popular UK pet insurance companies. As you can see in the table below, Agria and Healthy Pets (available from our partner Compare Cover) arguably have the best cover in terms of a quick start. Both companies cover illnesses after just 10 days and injuries immediately.

When Pet Insurance StartsIllness Waiting PeriodInjury Waiting Period
Agria10 daysimmediate cover
Healthy Pets10 daysimmediate cover
Argos14 days3 days
Debenhams14 daysimmediate cover
Direct Line14 daysimmediate cover
e&l14 daysimmediate cover
M&S Bank14 daysimmediate cover
Paws & Claws14 daysimmediate cover
Pet Insurance Emporium14 daysimmediate cover
petinsurance.co.uk14 daysimmediate cover
Petplan14 daysimmediate cover
Sainsbury's14 days3 days
Scratch & Patch14 daysimmediate cover
4Paws14 days24 hours
UIS Pet14 days24 hours
Asda14 days48 hours
John Lewis14 days48 hours
LV=14 days48 hours
More Than14 days48 hours^
PDSA14 days72 hours
everypaw14 days3 days
Animal Friends14 days5 days
Puffin14 days5 days
VetsMediCover14 days5 days
Lifetime Pet Cover14 days5 days^
SunLife14 days14 days
Pet Protect15 days15 days

^Waiting period is 14 days for cruciate ligament problems.

Why is there a waiting period? Pet insurance companies use a waiting period to help prevent pet owners from waiting to buy pet insurance until their pet becomes ill. Without a waiting period, pet owners might be tempted to keep their pet uninsured until an injury or illness occurred. If pet owners did that, however, insurance companies would surely suffer financially and premiums would likely rise significantly for all pet owners. By imposing a waiting period, pet insurance premiums are kept lower for everyone.

Pet Insurance with an Immediate Cover Start

If you've just bought a new pet insurance policy, your dog or cat generally won't be protected until a waiting period has passed. There are two circumstances under which your pet insurance can have an immediate cover start date, however.

First, if you choose a policy with an immediate start for accidents, then your pet will be protected immediately against any injuries. For example, if today you buy a pet insurance policy with an immediate start for accidents, then if your dog cuts himself tomorrow you can make a valid claim for the vet fees to treat the injury (subject to other conditions, of course).

Second, we have found one pet insurance company that offers immediate cover for illnesses—under one condition. Scratch & Patch (available through our partner Compare Cover) will waive the waiting periods altogether to give you immediate cover for both accidents and illnesses if your pet was insured for veterinary fees under another policy of insurance up to the start date (inception) of the first period of insurance with them, and you provide proof to Scratch & Patch. If you're thinking of switching pet insurance companies, this may be something to keep in mind so that your pet has consistent cover.

If your pet is not currently covered by a pet insurance policy, then the plans with the most immediate start dates we found are Agria and Healthy Pets (available from our partner Compare Cover), as discussed above. These may not be the only companies with such short effective dates, but will give you somewhere to start. If you come across any others with short start dates that we have not covered, please let us know in the comments section below.

FAQs

Not usually. Some pet insurance plans will start immediately for accidental injury cover only, but many pet insurance policies don't start straight away and only become effective around 2 weeks later. Click here for the list. An exception is Scratch & Patch (available through our comparison partner Compare Cover), which waives the waiting periods altogether to give you immediate cover if your pet was insured for veterinary fees under another policy without a gap, and you provide proof to Scratch & Patch.
The effective date for pet insurance varies from company to company, but most cover illnesses that start after 14 from the beginning of your policy. (You won't get cover for an illness that started before the effective date, even if you wait to see the vet until after the effective date.) Accidental injury is often covered immediately.

Compare Pet Insurance Quotes Today

Pet cover can help with vet bills. Protect your dog or cat today.

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Comments

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.