Waiting periods refer to the length of time before your pet’s conditions may be eligible for reimbursement.
What is a waiting period?
A waiting period is a term found in all pet insurance policies. It refers to the amount of time your pet insurer requires you to wait until your pet is eligible for reimbursement on specific conditions. Once you activate your pet insurance policy, there are three different waiting periods to keep in mind before you can file a claim:
- 2 days for accidents
- 14 days for illnesses
- 6 months for cruciate ligament events
These waiting periods begin on your policy’s start date. We can only offer reimbursement for your claim after the applicable waiting period ends. That’s why it’s so important that you buy insurance long before you need it.
Why is having a waiting period important?
Waiting periods are designed to protect our Lemonade community from someone who buys a policy just to cover one procedure—and then drops out.
Let’s say you and a friend are at the dog park with your Beagle, Maple, and your friend’s German Shepherd, Stevie. A fun day turns dangerous when they both eat a bunch of grass that has just been sprayed for ticks. Oh no! As soon as you realize they’ve ingested some toxins you speed over to the vet with your dogs.
Being the responsible pet parent you are, you’ve had a pet health insurance policy for Maple for the past six months… but your friend never thought to get one for poor Stevie.
If she rushes to buy a policy on the way to the vet, Stevie’s treatment and medication still won’t be covered, because of the two-day waiting period for accidents. (Don’t worry, in this hypothetical scenario both Stevie and Maple are totally fine… your friend just had to pay a whole lot more for the veterinary care).
What about pre-existing conditions?
A pre-existing condition is any condition your pet showed signs of, was diagnosed with, or was treated for before the waiting period of your pet health insurance policy ended. It’s actually one of the main reasons your insurance company has waiting periods on pet insurance plans.
It’s important to know that you won’t be covered for any pre-existing conditions. Pet insurance companies won’t cover anything diagnosed or symptomatic before your policy’s effective date and until your waiting periods expire, but once that window closes you’ll be covered for all eligible treatments and tests to keep your pet healthy for the rest of their life.
This is one of the reasons it’s so worthwhile for pet owners to get insurance coverage early in their dog or cat’s life. Some dogs are especially likely to require veterinary care for hereditary conditions, like hip dysplasia or a luxating patella. If these are noted or diagnosed before a waiting period is up, your pet insurance provider won’t be able to reimburse you for treatments related to those conditions.
But if you get your pet covered when they’re a healthy kitten or puppy, any eligible conditions that arise later in life will be fully covered!