Pet Insurance Waiting Periods

Waiting periods refer to the length of time before your pet’s conditions may be eligible for reimbursement through your pet insurance coverage.


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.

What dates should I keep in mind?

waiting periods for pet insurance

Once you activate your Lemonade 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  (a common knee injury for dogs, similar to a human tearing their ACL)

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 pet insurance 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).

Can’t I just buy pet insurance that doesn’t have waiting periods?

Nope. Pet insurance waiting periods are standard for most major providers—including Lemonade—but some policies have longer waiting periods than others.

Are there any exclusions to pet insurance waiting periods?

Yes, depending on the coverages you include on your policy. 

When you include one of Lemonade’s preventative care options on your policy, for example, your coverage kicks in right away to help with expenses related to all kinds of things that help keep your pet healthy—including annual wellness exams, vaccinations, routine care (like dental cleanings), spay/neutering, vet bills, and so much more.

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. At Lemonade, for example, you can buy a policy for your puppy or kitten from two months old. 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 (including Lemonade pet insurance) 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 (factoring in co-insurance and deductibles, of course)!

Is a vet visit required when I buy a pet insurance policy?

Depends on when your pet’s last medical exam was. At Lemonade, we require that you send us your fur fam’s pet medical record that includes info that covers the last 12 and a half months of your pet’s life (this includes the 14-day illness waiting period on your policy). If your pet is less than a year old, the medical record should include info from the first puppy, kitty, or shelter exam your pet had through the illness waiting period. 

So if you just bought a policy for your 3-year old Whippet, Beau, who hasn’t been to the vet since puppyhood, he’ll need a medical exam from a licensed veterinarian to be eligible for coverage (even if he’s a vision of health). Your fur fam might not be covered if you file a pet insurance claim without an up-to-date pet medical record.

And trust us, starting a medical record as early as possible in your pup or kitty’s life will pay off in the long run. The earlier you get pet insurance, the more likely your furry friend will be free of pre-existing conditions, which means more savings on treatments and illnesses throughout their life.

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.