SOAP Notes

SOAP notes refer to a documented report, provided by your vet, that describes your pet’s medical history.

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soap notes

SOAP notes refer to a documented report, provided by your vet, that describes your pet’s medical history.

What are SOAP Notes?

SOAP notes are just another name for your pet’s medical record and are a must-have for pet insurance. Sometimes SOAP notes are casually referred to as a full “nose-to-tail exam.”

Why SOAP? Good question! SOAP is an acronym for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. This method of documentation is designed to be shared between different care providers (including your insurance company). SOAP notes are organized in a pretty universal way that makes it easy for new parties to understand a patient’s chart.

They’re structured using a “SOAP format” that helps multiple care providers sync up on your pet’s health without having to consult with one another. This is why they’re the best document to provide when asked for your pet’s medical record.

What kind of details will SOAP notes include?

Here’s what you can expect your pet’s medical record to include:

  • Notes on the condition of fur, skin, eyes, ears, mouth, joints, and other body systems
  • Blood test/fecal test results
  • Details on diet/exercise
  • Details on current medications
  • Date of last vaccination
  • Any medications they are being sent home with today

The SOAP note format gives a full picture of your pet’s quality of care and medical history by breaking down any surgical history, diagnostic test results, physical exams, x-ray results, current medications, and objective data that will help your pet’s healthcare provider build the perfect treatment plan for whatever your pet is facing.This can help clinicians in their decision making, especially if there’s a history of present illness that can inform how to best care for your pet. 

Why might an insurance company ask for SOAP Notes?

Insurance companies need to know your pet’s health care history in order to provide the best service possible, and since they don’t cover pre-existing conditions, your pet’s medical record will be vital to determining which conditions, if any, are considered pre-existing.

A pre-existing condition refers to any kind of illness or health issue your pet developed before the start date of your pet health insurance policy and before your waiting periods have ended. It doesn’t mean your pet will be denied insurance coverage. It just means your plan won’t cover costs that directly relate to any ailment they were diagnosed with, had symptoms of, or were treated for before they had a Lemonade policy.

Can my pet health insurance provider participate in a claim without my pet’s medical record?

No. Some insurance companies might not let you know they need a copy of your medical record until you file a claim. But then you’ll find that, before they’re ready to participate in the cost of treatment, your insurer will want to check a medical record.

At Lemonade, we require a medical record that includes info that covers the last 12 months of your pet’s life (plus the illness waiting period on your policy, which varies by state). If your pet is less than a year old, the medical record should include info from birth through the illness waiting period.

If you can’t provide a medical record from that time frame you might consider canceling your policy and getting a new one when you’re ready, since we wouldn’t be able to help with the cost of your medical payments without that record.

How do I get a copy of my pet’s SOAP notes?

If you’ve just taken in a pup or kitten, your tiny new friend likely doesn’t have a medical history yet. So while there may be no records to obtain, there’s also no better time to start a medical record! 

Take your pet to the vet for a medical exam to find out what the status of their health is, and start what we hope will become a long record of a healthy life. (BTW, the earlier you get insurance the more likely your pet is to be free of any pre-existing conditions. That means you’ll likely save more money on treatments and illnesses over your pet’s lifetime.)

If you’ve adopted your pet from a shelter, they should hand over a copy of your new pet’s medical history that you can pass along to your new vet. If you adopted your pet from a friend or a private owner, just be sure to remind them that you’ll need whatever medical records they have. This will help to ensure your pet has already been–or will be–given all appropriate vaccinations and subsequent boosters, and checked for any health issues.

What if my pet has had multiple vets?

It’s not uncommon for your pet’s former veterinarian’s office to mail, email, or fax your pet’s medical history to a new vet. If you’re switching vets you can also request a copy for yourself and bring it along to your pet’s first appointment with their new doctor. Vets are legally required to release your pet’s records to you, so you shouldn’t have any problem obtaining a complete record.


Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.