There are four pet insurance companies in the UK that sell pet insurance specifically for pre-existing conditions: ManyPets (formerly Bought by Many), Lifetime Pet Cover, VetsMediCover and Petsure. While the good news is that pet owners can now buy cover for pets with pre-existing conditions from these companies, the bad news is that there are stark differences between the different options—and choosing the wrong plan could mean your pet isn't covered and you're on the hook for some hefty vet bills.
Our team at NimbleFins has dug into the details of the different policies and summarised the results, to help you understand how the different plans work. Below we explain the differences in pre-existing condition coverage to help you decide which one is best for you and your pet—and avoid sub-par coverage.
- Best Pet Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions
- Details of Pre-Existing Pet Insurance Coverage
- Does Pet Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?
- Average Cost of Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance
What's the Best Pre-Exisiting Pet Insurance?
In our opinion, ManyPets (formerly Bought By Many) offers the most straightforward and comprehensive cover for pets with pre-existing conditions. Why? This is the only company in the UK market that can cover recent or even current pre-existing conditions so long as your pet has been treatment, medication or advice-free for three months.
In contrast, Lifetime Pet Cover and VetsMediCover are less robust because they only cover conditions once your pet has been healthy for two years. But these might be very suitable options for those with pets who've had a problem in the past.
The newest entry into the world of UK pre-existing pet insurance is Petsure. They have an online tool to assess the seriousness of a condition and then through a risk score they price cover. Some conditions may get excluded but apparently most are accepted. We like their online medical screening but What they will and won't cover regarding accepted conditions is a touch complicated. We discuss further below.
ManyPets (formerly Bought By Many)
ManyPets' pre-existing policy covers conditions so long as your pet has been healthy for three months before the treatment you're claiming for. These recent pre-existing conditions (between 3 months and 2 years in the past) will be covered for a limited amount initially: £1,500 per year. This pre-existing condition limit resets each year when you renew. And once a condition has been gone for 2 years you get full cover for that condition. Read our ManyPets review or get a quote here.
Common Pre-Existing Conditions
There is no industry-wide, standard list of pre-existing conditions, because really any illness or injury that could affect your pet can be classed as a pre-existing condition. That said, here is a list of common pre-existing conditions for pets:
- Back pain
- Broken bone
- Cerebral hypoplasia
- Corneal ulcer
- Cruciate ligament injury
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Ear haematoma
- Elbow dysplasia
- Eye infection
- FIV (Feline)
- Food allergy
- Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Heart murmur
- Hip dysplasia
- Hip replacement
- Liver shunt
- Otitis (ear infection)
- Patellar luxation
- Retinal atrophy
- Sarcoptic mange
- Skin allergy
Features and Coverage for Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance
Here is in-depth information on the different options to help you learn more about how and when pre-existing conditions are covered by each plan, plus other notable details.
ManyPets (formerly Bought By Many) Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance
ManyPets (formerly Bought By Many) has a unique approach to pet insurance, where plans are based on feedback from over 40,000 pet owners and they aim to fix problems with the pet insurance market. ManyPets technically offers the most lenient cover for pets with pre-existing conditions in the UK. All of their policies should cover pre-existing conditions once your pet has been treatment, medication and advice free for two years. Their "Pre-Existing" policy goes even further to protect more recent medical conditions.
On the Pre-Existing policy, ManyPets provides £1,500 of cover in total for all pre-existing conditions per year so long as your pet has been treatment, medication and advice free for three months for the treatment you’re claiming for. The policy includes up to £7,000 for all vet fee claims (including the £1,500 you can use for pre-existing conditions). As a lifetime policy, both the £1,500 and the £7,000 reset each year when you renew.
Lifetime Pet Cover Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance
If your pet had a health problem in the past that has been completely cured for more than two years, then Lifetime Pet Cover will insure the condition on new policies. Open the Policy Wording and on page 8 you'll find the official language regarding pre-existing conditions. The terms state that a condition will cease to be a pre-existing condition if all of the following are true:
- A condition has been treated and your pet has fully recovered, leaving no susceptibility to future problems or underlying weakness and since that point
- The condition has been treated and your pet has not received any treatment for or in connection with the condition for a continuous period of 24 calendar months
- There are no symptoms or vet consultations relating to the condition for the previous 24 months
Here's a screenshot of the relevant section from the Policy Booklet:
VetsMediCover Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance
VetsMediCover's lifetime pet insurance policies (i.e., Gold, Platinum and Diamond policies) policy wording states that pre-existing conditions will cease to be considered as pre-existing conditions if for twenty four consecutive calendar months:
- Your pet has shown no symptoms of the condition
- You have not consulted a vet with respect to the condition
- Your pet has not received treatment for or in connection with the condition
Pets over 8 years old are not eligible for new policies, so if you have an older pet needing a new pet insurance policy for pre-existing conditions then you may find more luck with ManyPets or Lifetime Pet Cover. Also, please note that VetsMediCover time limited Silver policies will not cover pre-existing conditions at any time.
Here's a screenshot of the relevant section from the VetsMediCover Policy Booklet:
Petsure Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance
Petsure, underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE (GLISE), a German insurance company, is the latest entry into the UK pre-existing pet insurance market. Their lifetime policies will cover pre-existing conditions up to the limit of your cover (various levels available from £1,000 to £15,000 per year), and conditions are pre-screened online when you get a quote to see if they'll be accepted. But they don’t cover maintenance treatments for existing conditions—that means no repeat prescriptions, ongoing therapy treatments, scans/tests, or planned consultations. They also don’t cover any pre-existing conditions if your pet has an undiagnosed condition or any pending surgery when you take out cover. What do they cover? Worsening and new symptoms of your pet’s pre-existing conditions that have been declared and accepted by Petsure.
Here's a screenshot of the relevant language regarding pre-existing conditions from the Petsure policy document:
The terms from their policy wording (above) leave us a touch worried that petowners could think something should be covered when in fact it won't. For example, if a pre-existing condition has no symptoms for 2 years but is deemed 'ongoing' because, say, you treat the condition with diet (e.g. diabetes), then checkups or tests to monitor the condition would not be covered.
But think that their cover is good for protecting against worsening pre-existing conditions, as evidenced by the Trustpilot review below:
"The only insurance company that would cover our dogs pre-existing knee condition for a reasonable cost per month. Unfortunately our little dog had to undergo further knee surgery and Petsure have covered him as promised. Thank you Petsure..."
Also, it's nice that some features are optional (e.g. dental illness, missing pet, farewell cover including burial/cremation, travel & holiday cover), which will keep premiums down for those who don't need these coverages. We like that they cover euthanasia.
Pet Insurance for Older Cats and Dogs with Pre-Existing Conditions
Older pets are more likely to have a medical history and need pre-existing cover, but you may face restrictions on some plans as a function of their age. For example, of the plans mentioned above for pre-existing conditions, ManyPets and Lifetime Pet Cover have no age restrictions and should offer cover regardless of your pet's age. VetsMediCover will consider pets up to age 8 for new policies—once your pet is covered, however, you should be able to keep renewing past the age of 8.
|Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance for Older Pets
|Upper Age Limit
|No upper age limit
|Lifetime Pet Cover
|No upper age limit
|8 years old for new policies (but renewals for pets are allowed over age 8)
|No upper age limit
What is a Pre-Existing Condition for Pet Insurance?
Broadly speaking, a pre-existing condition for pet insurance is an injury or illness that occurred or showed signs before your pet insurance becomes effective. It's important to note that policies often don't become effective right away—that is, a new pet insurance policy officially starts after an initial waiting period that can last for days or weeks and usually differs for accidents vs. illnesses. As a result, an injury or illness is typically considered to be pre-existing if it affected your pet:
- Before you purchased the policy, or
- During the initial accident or illness waiting period, as appropriate
Additionally, an injury or illness may be considered pre-existing if it is "related to, caused by or shows the same signs of" another previous injury or illness. For instance, bilateral conditions (conditions that occur to a body part of which your pet has a second, such as an ear, eye or hip) are typically treated as one condition by insurers. For example, a previous left ear infection could exclude cover for infections in both ears (i.e., all ear infections would be considered pre-existing).
Why are pre-existing conditions restricted on pet insurance? If pet insurance companies covered pre-existing illnesses and injuries without restriction, then pet owners might be tempted to keep their pet uninsured until an injury or illness occurred. In that situation, however, insurance companies would surely suffer financially and premiums would rise for all pet owners. By setting some rules around pre-existing conditions, pet insurance premiums are kept lower for everyone.
Does Pet Insurance Generally Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?
The vast majority of UK pet insurance companies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions, but there are exceptions. If your pet has a pre-existing condition, most companies will either refuse to insure your pet or offer cover that excludes treatment related to the condition. As a result, customers may think they're trapped with the same insurer, unable to change even if faced with rising, higher-than-expected premiums. A few companies do cover pre-existing conditions, however.
Some of the big pet insurance companies might cover pre-existing conditions if you call up and talk to them about it. For example, Petplan and Animal Friends will consider covering some pre-existing conditions if your pet has been healthy for a period of time and has no long-term ill affects—but these approvals are made on a case-by-case basis and are not guaranteed. If you are interested in getting cover from these companies and are willing to go through that effort then it may be worth calling them up to talk. Otherwise, the other three pet insurance providers mentioned on this page have more standardised coverage for 'pre-existing conditions'.
Summary of Pet Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Here is a summary of the pre-existing cover currently on offer in the UK:
|Pre-Existing Pet Insurance Companies UK
|Lifetime Pet Cover
|Declared and agreed conditions are covered for:
When is a Pet Considered Healthy?
A condition is no longer considered a pre-existing condition by these companies once they've been "healthy" for a certain period of time. "Healthy" has a slightly different definition by insurer but essentially means your dog or cat has been symptom, medication, advice and treatment free from a condition for a minimum time, with no long-term effects or weaknesses.
How Much is Pre-Existing Condition Pet Insurance?
Not surprisingly, the average cost of pre-existing pet insurance is generally higher than the cost of regular pet insurance, with prices typically exceeding £400 a year (over £30 a month). For example, we found that ManyPets' Pre-Existing policy costs around 2X as much as their Regular pet insurance plan (these two plans make a good comparison because they each provide £7,000 of cover that renews each year).
Of course, you may find prices are quite different for your pet, since prices can vary significantly by breed, pet age and even where you live. Be sure to compare quotes from different companies to understand market pricing for your particular situation before deciding which is most suitable and economical for you.
The following analysis of ManyPets' pricing shows how the cost of pre-existing pet insurance compares to pet insurance that does not cover pre-existing conditions. For this exercise, we used a £99 excess across all policies because the Pre-Existing plan only has the £99 excess option. Here's how quotes compared:
Pets who have been healthy for over two years will have a wider range of coverages available to them (e.g., all of ManyPets' policies as well as Lifetime Pet Cover and VetsMediCover), and at cheaper prices.
If you'd like to review the pre-existing terms in detail, please refer to the Policy Wording for each plan. As of the time of writing, these were the most recent terms:
No, Tesco pet insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions—but these three other highly-rated pet insurance alternatives can cover your dog or cat's pre-existing medical conditions.
No, Petplan pet insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions—but these three other highly-rated pet insurance alternatives can cover your dog or cat's pre-existing medical conditions.
To get pet insurance if your pet has pre-existing conditions, you should buy a policy that covers pre-existing conditions from one of the four providers offering it in the UK.
The term "pre-existing condition" is defined differently by insurer, but essentially means an illness or injury that your pet showed signs of before your pet insurance becomes effective. Some insurers stop considering a condition as "pre-existing" if your pet has been symptom and treatment free for at least two years.
To change pet insurance with pre-existing conditions you have two choices: 1) buy a policy that covers pre-existing conditions or 2) buy a policy that doesn't cover pre-existing conditions—but this will only work if you're prepared to foot the vet bills to treat your pet for their pre-existing conditions. If you opt for option 2 to potentially save on your premium, be aware that pet insurance companies are sometimes quite sweeping in their categorisation of "pre-existing condition". That is, a subsequent condition that neither you nor your vet feel is related to the pre-existing condition may be considered to be related by the insurer, in which case they might refuse cover.