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Can I Get Pet Insurance Before Surgery in the UK (2023)

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated June, 22, 2023

Can I get pet insurance before surgery? It may not be the first question that pops into your head when your four-legged friend is scheduled for a medical procedure, but it is an important one, nonetheless. 

The answer is yes, you can, although it is unlikely your insurance will cover the cost of surgery or follow-up care. 

Most insurers in the country do not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, so if your cat or dog has a medical issue that requires treatment or operation, you would have to find a specialist insurer. 

Read on as we cover everything you need to know about pet insurance for pre-existing conditions in the UK. 

What Is Pet Insurance for a Pre Existing Condition?

Pet insurance for a pre-existing condition is a specialist insurance policy that helps pay for the cost of treating a dog or cat for a condition the pet had before getting coverage.

This type of insurance can cover the costs of treatments, surgeries, and medications necessary to help your pet recover or manage a pre-existing condition.

Most pet insurance policies exclude pre-existing conditions. So, when shopping for cat or dog insurance for pre-existing conditions, you are likely to come across these three options:

  • Insurers that cover medical conditions your pet had before taking out the policy. These providers offer pet insurance after a diagnosis of an illness as long the dog or cat is not exhibiting symptoms at the time you take out the policy or two years before that. Many Pets and VetsMediCover are two such providers in the UK. 
  • Insurers, like Petplan and Direct Line, that provide pet insurance with pre-existing conditions but offer limited coverage for certain conditions. 
  • Insurers that do not provide pet insurance for existing conditions. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance and Waggel are two of the leading pet insurance providers that currently do not include pre existing conditions in their pet insurance policies. 

What Is a Pre-existing Condition for Pet Insurance?

Most insurers define a pre-existing medical condition as an illness, injury, or condition that was present, or showed symptoms before the policy was taken out. 

However, some insurers may also define it as a condition that is caused by, derives from, or is related to an illness, injury or diagnosis your pet had before you purchased coverage. 

Since the definition of a pre existing condition varies among pet insurance providers it is important to carefully read your policy and see what is included. 

What Pre-existing Conditions Does Pet Insurance Typically Cover?

Each pet insurer’s list of pre-existing medical conditions is different, so double-check before purchasing a policy. If you can’t find your pet’s condition on the list, call the insurer and ask if it is covered or not.

Usually, pre-existing conditions are one of the following: 

Chronic conditions 

These long-term and ongoing medical issues include diabetes, cancers, obesity, epilepsy or allergies. Some chronic conditions are usually more common among cats (asthma and urinary tract infections), while glaucoma or arthritis tend to develop in dogs, especially older canines. 

Since chronic conditions require constant care and veterinary consultations, it is very difficult to find a pet insurance provider that offers coverage. Even if you did, you are likely to pay very high premiums and face restrictions on how much you can claim. 

Historic conditions 

These are issues your pet had in the past, but no longer exhibits symptoms, such as recurring joint pain, eye or ear infections. If your pet has not received treatment or shown symptoms for 24 months, you could find a company that includes this type of existing condition in their pet insurance policies. 

Congenital conditions

Hereditary or congenital conditions are passed down from parents to their offspring. These conditions may include heart disease or heart murmurs and are typically found in pure-breed animals. Pugs and Persian cats, for instance, are known to suffer from breathing issues as both are born with narrow nostrils. 

If your pet has a hereditary illness, the best option is to take out insurance while they are still young and before they develop any symptoms. 

Bi-lateral conditions

These are medical conditions that affect two sides of the body, like hip dysplasia and cataracts. Bi-lateral conditions are particularly tricky to cover, as hip dysplasia even on one hip can be considered a pre-existing condition by your insurer and thus excluded from standard policies. 

How to Find Pet Insurance With Pre-existing Conditions in the UK?

Since only a handful of pet insurance providers in the country offer cat or dog insurance for pre existing conditions, it is best to purchase coverage when your furry friend is young and healthy. This way, you will not have to worry about being denied coverage or having your premiums go up if your pet becomes ill later on in life.

Here are a few tips on how to find the best pet insurance for existing conditions.

  • Compare policies: Do some research and look into several insurance providers before signing on the dotted line. It’s also a good idea to get a free quote (if possible) so you know how much you will pay monthly as well as how much you can claim.
  • Contact insurers: Getting pet insurance before surgery or covering a pre-existing medical condition, is not as straightforward as buying a standard insurance policy. So, don’t be afraid to talk to providers and ask about as many details as possible.
  • Talk to your veterinarian: Vets deal with chronic or hereditary conditions all the time and they might be able to suggest an insurance provider that can meet your specific needs. 

How Much Does Pet Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions Cost?

Typically, coverage for pets with existing medical conditions is higher than regular policies and can go over £400 a year or £30 a month. In fact, some providers charge twice as much to insure pets with previous conditions, which brings us to our next question.

Do I Have to Declare My Pet’s Conditions When Taking Out a Policy?

Yes, you need to tell your insurer about any medical conditions your pet has or had in the past, even if they are not showing any symptoms when you are taking out the policy. If you are making a claim for a pre-existing condition that you haven’t disclosed to your insurer, your claim will most likely be rejected.

On top of that, your coverage may be cancelled. A cancelled policy will stay on your record, leading to higher premiums when taking out insurance in the future.

Which Pet Insurance Providers in the UK Offer Pet Insurance for a Pre-existing Condition?

Although rare, there are some companies that provide pet insurance for pre-existing conditions. 

1. ManyPets 

ManyPets is one the best in this category as all of the company’s standard policies cover existing conditions your pet has not been treated for in the past two years. 

They also have a Pre-existing Policy, specifically created for cats or dogs that have needed consultation, treatment or medication for a specific condition in the past 24 months. Coverage starts at up to £500 and can potentially rise to £1,000 in the second year and £7,000 over time, provided you haven’t made a claim. 

Bear in mind that to get coverage your pet needs to be healthy for at least three months before you buy the policy. 

2. VetsMediCover

Like ManyPets, VetsMediCover no longer considers a condition to be pre-existing if your pet has been treatment- and symptom-free or has not consulted a vet in the last two years. 

That said, their coverage is not as lenient as ManyPets. Dogs and cats with pre-existing conditions are only eligible for the company’s Lifetime policy and they must be 8 years or younger to apply. On the plus side, VetsMediCover covers vet bills up to £10,000, one of the most generous offers on the market, and provides up to £350 coverage for necessary dental treatment. 

3. Petsure 

Petsure is on a mission to fight pet prejudice by providing coverage for all dogs and cats regardless of age or pre-existing medical conditions. If eligible, you can get comprehensive lifetime coverage up to £15,000, with non-compulsory excess or co-payments. You can also insure up to eight pets under the same policy at fair and affordable prices. 

However, Petsure will not cover ongoing treatment for a specific condition, undiagnosed medical issues or surgeries scheduled before the policy is purchased, so if you need to take out pet insurance before surgery, you might want to look elsewhere. 

4. Petplan

Petplan is one of the biggest pet insurers in the UK, boasting over 40 years of experience and thousands of satisfied customers. 

The company does not have a special policy for pre-existing conditions, but rather evaluates each case separately. This means that you can get full coverage up to your preferred veterinary fee level for certain conditions right away, while for others you will have to wait until your pet has been symptom-free for a specific period of time (depending on the condition). Other diseases, such as arthritis or diabetes, cannot be covered at all. 

Renewing My Pet Insurance Policy

There are pros and cons to switching insurance providers if you are trying to get coverage for a pet with an existing medical condition.

The biggest advantage to renewing your existing policy is that you are not likely to find a new insurer willing to cover a condition you have already claimed for. Sticking with the same company means you will get coverage for that condition, however, the price of your existing policy may go up considerably and you could end up paying more excess.

On the other hand, switching to a new insurer will help you cut costs since you will be opting out of pet insurance for pre-existing conditions. You will not get coverage for your dog or cat’s medical condition, but you will be protected against other things, such as liabilities and legal advice.

What Are the Alternatives to Pet Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions?

There are a few alternatives to cat and dog insurance for pre-existing conditions.

One is to self-insure. This means you will pay for your pet’s medical costs out of pocket. Although this can be expensive, it may be a good option if you only have one pet, have already build-up a sizable savings pot or if the cost of treatment is lower than the premium you end up paying. 

Another option is to turn to veterinary charities, such as the PDSA or RSPCA who can help cover some of the treatment costs. Keep in mind that these charities are often oversubscribed and require pet owners to meet certain criteria. Still, you might be able to qualify so it’s worth giving it a try.

Do I Need Pet Insurance for Pre-existing Conditions?

If your pet has a medical condition that is very expensive to treat, you should consider getting specialist pet insurance. Premiums may be higher, but you won’t have to bear the entire cost of surgery and rehabilitation.

However, if your dog or cat’s condition is manageable with tablets or a specific diet, it might be cheaper to cover those expenses yourself and choose a standard policy that does not include pre-existing conditions, thus reducing the cost of insurance. 

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

Will my pet insurance policy cover new conditions?

Yes. If you already have pet insurance and your four-legged companion develops a condition and needs surgery or treatment, this will be covered by your policy.  However how much you can claim and how long the cover lasts depends on the policy.

Can I get pet insurance with pre-existing conditions for older pets? 

Older pets are more likely to have pre-existing conditions, which might make it harder to find suitable coverage. That said, there are insurance providers, like ManyPets and Petsure that do not have upper age limits on their policies.

Can you get pet insurance after a diagnosis?

Yes, but most insurance providers will not cover pre-existing medical conditions, so you will need to find a specialist insurer.

Are allergies considered a pre existing condition for pet insurance?

Yes, allergies are considered chronic conditions that require ongoing treatment and cannot be cured. Almost none of the pet insurers in the country provides coverage for chronic conditions.

Does my pet legally need insurance?

No, unlike car insurance, pet insurance is not mandatory in the UK, but it can help you save money if your pet is lost, stolen, injured or sick.

Can I get pet insurance before surgery and make a claim?

No. The condition your pet is getting surgery for is considered pre-existing, which is something most insurers do not cover. Even the ones that do require your pet to be healthy for a certain period of time before the policy kicks in and you can make a claim.

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.