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Pet insurance for pre-existing conditions

If your pet has a pre-existing condition, you can still get covered – but usually on a case-by-case basis.

What you need to know

  • Pet insurance does not usually automatically cover pre-existing conditions.
  • In some cases, if your vet advises that your pet is now fully cured and the condition is no longer relevant to their ongoing health, your pet can get covered for that ailment.
  • If you already have pet insurance, and they have an ailment, be careful about switching because it could lead to exclusions.

What is a pre-existing condition for pets?

A pre-existing condition is an illness or ailment that existed prior to the date you took out a pet insurance policy for your dog or cat. It's generally something that you or your vet were aware of or that any reasonable person in similar circumstances would be aware of.

It doesn't matter whether the condition has been treated or diagnosed by a vet or not. If there are any noticeable signs your pet was unwell prior to being insured, then the condition causing the problem will be defined as pre-existing.

Can you get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions?

Generally no, you can't get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions. If a condition exists or occurs before you take out a policy, it's likely to be excluded from cover as a pre-existing condition.

However, there are exceptions. Some insurers can cover pre-existing conditions on a case-by-case basis. For example, Vets Choice states that if your pet hasn't shown any signs or symptoms of a curable condition for a specific period of time (usually 18 months), you can apply for that pre-existing condition to be waived.

Coles pet insurance will also cover cured pre-existing conditions. All you need to do is show proof from your vet that the condition is fully cured and you'll be covered for claims related to that illness in the future.

Even if you can't get cover for a pre-existing condition, pet insurance is still worth getting, not least because if your pet develops another illness while you hold a policy, you'll be covered. It can also help pay vet bills for accidents and some even cover routine care treatments like dental and vaccinations.

Switching to a different insurance company could cost you money in the future.
There is a tendency to try and swap to a cheaper insurance company. But what you need to keep in mind is that the definition of pre-existing conditions, as well as the policies, vary from company to company. Before making the decision on a change of insurance companies, be sure you do your research and seek clarity on what your pet may not get covered for.

Finder survey: How many of their pets do Australians in different states insure?

Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1009 Australians, December 2023
Data for ACT, NT, TAS not shown due to insufficient sample size. Some other states may also be excluded for this reason.

Request cover for your pet's pre-existing condition with these providers

Pre-existing conditions are typically assessed on a case-by-case basis. The likelihood of getting covered is up to each provider and also depends on whether the pre-existing condition is considered temporary or chronic. You can submit a request with the following providers:

1 - 13 of 25
Name Product Maximum yearly benefit Paralysis Tick Yearly Sub-Limit Reimbursement rate Illness Accidental Injury
Medibank Pet Max Cover with Extra Care
⭐Finder Exclusive: Get your 1st month’s premium free when you choose Medibank Pet Insurance. Sign up using promo code FINDERONE. Offer ends 29 April 2024. T&Cs apply.
Everyday Comprehensive Plus Cover
Everyday Pet Insurance customers get 10% off their monthly Woolworths shop. T&Cs apply.
PIA Major Medical Cover
Covers specified accidents and illnesses, with Routine Care Cover included. Get 2 months free when you sign up using the code PIA202. T&Cs apply.
Pet Circle Dog Cover
$10K or $17.5K or $30K
70% or 80% or 90%
Get 2 months free when you sign up using the code PCI2FREE. T&Cs apply.
Australian Seniors Top Accident & Illness Cover
Benefits include overseas cover when in NZ or Norfolk Island for your pet, plus an optional routine care add-on.
Vets Choice Elite Cover
80% or 100%
Get a 5% discount when you insure more than one pet.
Guardian Platinum Accident & Illness Cover
Lifetime cover for cats and dogs, up to 80% covered.
RSPCA Ultimate Plus Accident and Illness Cover
Comprehensive cover for your pet, including the option of routine care. Get 1 month free for the first year of new policies. T&C's apply.
Petsy Top Cover
ExclusiveHighly Commended
Petsy Top Cover
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Enjoy 30% off your first month of pet insurance, plus receive a custom pet tag. Sign up using the code FINDER. T&Cs apply.
Real Premium Accident & Illness Cover
Claim up to a maximum of $12k per year, with no excess to pay.
Knose Pet Insurance
Finder AwardExclusive
Knose Pet Insurance
⭐Finder Exclusive: Get 10% off your first year. Sign up using promo code FINDER10. T&C's apply.
PetsOnMe Deluxe Plan
Bow Wow Meow Ultimate Care Plan
Covers your pet for specific accidental injuries/illnesses, including dental illness. Join and get 2 months free for puppies. T&Cs apply.

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What you can do if your pet has a pre-existing condition

If your pet has a pre-existing medical condition, here's what you can do.

Dog and Cat

Take out a pet insurance policy

While they won't be covered for the recurrence of a specific illness, for example arthritis, they will still most likely be insured for an unrelated problem, for example an ear infection that develops after your insurance is in full swing.

If your pet has several pre-existing conditions and you're finding it hard to get cover, one way of minimising your likelihood of being hit with even larger vet bills is to purchase accident-only insurance. This covers a wide variety of health emergencies, ranging from snakebites to fractured bones.


Apply for a review of exclusions

If you've been hit with a pre-existing exclusion but your pet has gotten better and shown no signs of the condition for at least 18 months, you may be able to apply for a pre-existing condition review. These are considered temporary conditions and they normally resolve with treatment. However, you will generally find that chronic conditions and some other specified conditions will not be categorised as a temporary condition and will always be excluded from cover.

Can you take out pet insurance after diagnosis?

Yes, you can take out pet insurance after the diagnosis of an illness, but you won't be able to claim for any treatments related to that condition — rather, it'll be listed as a pre-existing condition by your insurer and excluded from cover. When you make a claim, insurers will ask for the medical history of your pet. You can get this information from your vet.

Does lifetime insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Some insurers offer a lifetime cover guarantee. This means that they'll pay benefits towards treatment for your pet's chronic and/or recurring conditions as long as you keep your policy.

So as long as you get insurance before your pet has developed any conditions and continue paying premiums, your pet should be covered.

What are bilateral conditions?

In pet insurance, bilateral conditions typically fall under the umbrella of pre-existing health problems. The term "bilateral" refers to parts of your pet's body that have a "left" and "right" version, such as its ears or limbs. Bilateral conditions can affect the left side of your pet's body, the right side or both.

As an example, this means that if your pet suffers from dysplasia in its left hip, then dysplasia in its right hip will not be covered because it is considered to be pre-existing. This is despite the fact that only the left hip was previously affected.

What about insurance for older pets?

You can still get pet insurance for older dogs and cats, but they won't be covered for any pre-existing conditions they have.

Most insurers won't let you take out a policy after your furry friend reaches a certain age, usually 9 years old, but there are a handful that can cover your pet after they reach this age. You can find them here.

Are congenital conditions covered?

Yes. Fortunately, most insurers agree to cover both congenital and hereditary disorders as long as there is no clinical indication of these affecting your pet's health until after the waiting period has elapsed.

Hereditary and congenital conditions are something that your furry friend is predisposed to since birth, rather than developing as a result of illness or injury. By definition, such conditions already exist at the time you purchase an insurance policy and may not affect your pet's health until later in life.

Remember though, you won't be covered for specific health problems mentioned in the list of exclusions on your insurance certificate, so check the product disclosure statement (PDS) before taking out a policy.

What conditions are normally excluded?

There is no single list of conditions that all insurers place in the "pre-existing" category, but the problems below generally make the grade.

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Bilateral conditions
  • Bladder crystals and urinary blockages
  • Cancer
  • Cruciate ligament problems
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hip or elbow dysplasia
  • Skin lumps
  • Thyroid problems

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    DeepikaFebruary 9, 2018


    My dog has a reduced vision and the vet has referred him to an eye specialist. I am going to see the eye specialist today. My dog a 6 year old labrador is very healthy and goes to the vet yearly for vaccinations only. No health problems at all.
    Will any pet insurance company in Australia will cover this condition. What is the best option I have.


      RenchFebruary 28, 2018Finder

      Hi Deepika,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Your pet’s reduced vision may or may not be covered depending on the level of cover you take for your pet. So best to check this first with the insurer and if possible check the T&Cs/PDS of the policy first.

      There are different brands you can choose from above list, you may click the name of your preferred insurance to know more the details and click on the green “Get Quote” to request for a quote from their official site.

      Best regards,


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