How Long Does It Take For Pet Insurance To Kick In?

Takeaway Points

  • A pet insurance policy is considered “active” after the waiting period is completed
  • Waiting periods are typically around fourteen days, but they vary based on the provider
  • Certain conditions like orthopedic issues have longer waiting periods of around six months 
  • For these reasons, it’s a good idea to acquire pet insurance as soon as possible to avoid paying out-of-pocket for pre-existing conditions 

Securing insurance for your dog can be downright confusing. One common misconception is that pet insurance kicks in as soon as you purchase the policy which, under most providers, is not the case.

Below, we’ll decode exactly how long it takes pet insurance policies to take effect and share when it’s best to invest in pet insurance so that you can protect your pet. 

When Should I Get Pet Insurance?

It’s best to get pet insurance as early as possible in your pet’s life. This is because your policy is not considered active until after the preestablished waiting period has been completed– if your dog or cat is diagnosed with a condition before the waiting period is completed, it will be considered a pre-existing condition and is, therefore, not covered by your insurance policy. 

Pet insurance waiting periods vary based on the nature of the plan. Orthopedic conditions tend to have a longer waiting period since these are considered high-risk and require long-term care. 

When Does Pet Insurance Kick In? 

Pet insurance kicks in after you’ve signed onto a policy and completed the requested waiting period based on your pet’s policy. In some cases, a pet insurance provider may ask for a veterinary exam as well before setting a policy as active. Pet waiting periods vary based on coverage and your pet’s current state of health. 

Why Do Pet Insurance Policies Have Waiting Periods?

Pet insurance policies have waiting periods to help minimize the risk of fraud and incentivize pet owners to take on a policy as soon as possible. The sooner your policy is activated (and your waiting period is completed), the less likely your pet will suffer from a problem before you have insurance; if they do, it’ll be considered pre-existing and not covered even when your insurance kicks in. The sooner you can get a policy for your pet, the better. 

Do Waiting Periods Vary Based On Coverage?

Yes! Depending on your insurance policy of choice, coverage is varied by plan type, your pet’s condition, and conditions that tend to have exceptions (typically long-term orthopedic ailments). 

Here are some of the pet insurance policy waiting periods for some of the most popular pet insurance providers: 

Insurance PolicyAccident Waiting Period Illness Waiting Period Wellness Exceptions
ASPCA Pet Health InsuranceFourteen Days Fourteen Days No Waiting PeriodFourteen days for knee or ligament conditions 
Embrace Pet InsuranceTwo Days Fourteen Days No Waiting PeriodSix months for orthopedic conditions
Fetch by Dodo Pet InsuranceFifteen DaysFifteen DaysN/A Six months for orthopedic conditions
Figo Pet InsuranceVaries VariesN/A Varies by state 
Hartville Pet InsuranceFourteen Days Fourteen Days No Waiting PeriodFourteen days for ligament conditions
Healthy Paws Pet InsuranceFifteen Days Fifteen Days N/A A year for hip dysplasia for pets younger than six
Lemonade Pet InsuranceTwo Days Fourteen DaysNo Waiting PeriodSix months for cruciate ligament events
Nationwide Pet InsuranceFourteen Days Fourteen Days One Day A year for cruciate ligament events
MetLife Pet Insurance No Waiting PeriodFourteen Days No Waiting PeriodOrthopedic conditions have a six-month waiting period 
PetFirst Pet InsuranceFourteen DaysFourteen DaysNo Waiting Period Orthopedic conditions have a six-month waiting period 
Petplan Pet InsuranceFive Days Fifteen Days No Waiting PeriodSix months for hip dysplasia and ligament problems 
Pets Best Pet InsuranceThree Days Fourteen DaysNo Waiting PeriodSix months  for Cruciate Ligament Conditions
Spot Pet Insurance Fourteen Days Fourteen Days No waiting period Six months for cruciate ligament events
Trupanion Pet InsuranceFive Days Thirty Days No Waiting PeriodOrthopedic conditions have a six-month waiting period 
Trusted Pals Pet InsuranceFourteen Days Fourteen Days No Waiting PeriodA year for hip dysplasia and ligament problems 
USAA Pet InsuranceTwo Days Fourteen DaysNo Waiting PeriodOrthopedic conditions have a six-month waiting period 

Pet Insurance Waiting Period FAQs

Still have questions about pet insurance waiting periods? Consider these commonly asked questions and answers to help you expand your understanding as a pet parent. 

What is the waiting period for pet insurance?

Waiting periods vary from one policy to the next. Generally speaking, you can expect waiting periods to be around fourteen days, give or take. However, some conditions, like hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament issues can have extended waiting periods of up to six months. 

Is it too late to insure my dog?

Some insurance policies have upper limits for coverage based on a pet’s age. However, in most cases, you can insure a pet at any age, though pre-existing conditions will not be covered by the policy. 

Is there pet insurance without a waiting period?

No. Unfortunately, all pet insurance policies have a waiting period, usually around nine to fifteen days. However, certain conditions, like cruciate ligament issues may have waiting periods of up to six months. 

Why is there a 14-day waiting period for pets?

Pet insurance waiting periods can help prevent fraud and are generally beneficial for insurers since they incentivize pet owners to sign up for pet insurance as soon as possible. 

Can I get pet insurance if my dog is already sick?

You can get pet insurance for your pet, though pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Also, note that your pet’s insurance policy doesn’t kick in until after the waiting period is completed. 

At what age is pet insurance the cheapest?

Pet insurance is typically the cheapest around age six since pets are generally fairly healthy throughout the middle years. That being said, pet insurance should be purchased as soon as possible to prevent tacking on out-of-pocket costs from pre-existing conditions

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Katharine Brunotts

Kate Brunotts is a pet-care content specialist with past experience at Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital in NYC. When she's not crafting articles for pet parents, Kate enjoys relaxing with her Shih Tzu Poodle Mix, Spicy.