When To Get Pet Insurance


  • The best time to get pet insurance is while your dog is young and healthy so future health problems are covered.
  • Pet insurance is typically cheaper for young, healthy dogs than it is for older dogs or those with pre-existing health conditions.
  • Most insurance policies have waiting periods before coverage kicks in, so it’s best to get it before anything happens.

Why You Should Get Pet Insurance Sooner Rather Than Later

Most dogs develop some sort of health issue as they age, so it’s a great idea to invest in pet insurance as soon as possible. If your dog does develop a health condition and you don’t already have health insurance, it’ll be considered a pre-existing condition. This means if you do eventually take out insurance, the condition won’t be covered.

Since puppies and young dogs tend to be healthier than older dogs, they are also cheaper to insure.

When Is the Earliest You Can Take Out Pet Insurance on a Puppy?

The earliest age at which you can get insurance for a puppy will vary from company to company. In general, most companies will not insure any puppy younger than six to ten weeks.

Health Risks for Puppies

Most puppies are relatively healthy, but there are a few common health risks that puppies of any size or breed can face. When insuring a puppy, it’s important to make sure your policy covers any potential issues that your puppy may have.

Genetic abnormalities can affect dogs at any age, but some can cause problems early in life. Heart abnormalities or orthopedic issues can affect puppies as young as just a few months old. Some breeds are also more prone to developing health problems at a young age.

Before being fully vaccinated, young puppies can also fall ill with common diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, and adenovirus. Once they receive all necessary vaccinations, their risk is reduced, but until then they can be exposed any time they leave the home.

Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and intestinal worms are also common in puppies. The specific parasites that can affect your puppy will depend on the area in which you live.

Additionally, puppies can develop seasonal health problems such as allergies, insect bites, dehydration, and hypothermia. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures during winter or summer, your puppy may be at a higher risk of developing a seasonal health issue.

Pet Insurance for Older Dogs

If you’re looking for pet insurance for an older dog, it’s important to understand that many insurance providers offer limited or no coverage for dogs over a certain age. It can be especially difficult to find a policy that covers older dogs with pre-existing health conditions.

If you are able to find an insurance provider that covers older dogs, be aware that your monthly premium will likely be quite high. It’s typically much more expensive to insure an older dog than a young healthy adult or puppy.

How to Save Money on Pet Insurance

Pet insurance policies are typically less expensive when dogs are young and healthy, so the sooner you buy the more money you’re going to save over your dog’s lifetime.

Some insurance providers also offer other types of insurance, so it may be possible to combine your pet insurance with other policies. If you’re already paying for renter’s insurance, for example, you may be able to get pet insurance from the same provider at a reduced cost.

How Long Does It Take for Pet Insurance to Kick In?

Nearly every pet insurance plan will have a waiting period – this is the period after taking out the policy you’ll have to wait before your pup is covered. Waiting periods vary from company to company but they generally fit into these groups:

  • Accident and injury coverage can kick in from as little as 3 days up to around two weeks
  • Illness coverage usually has longer waiting periods of at least two weeks
  • Wellness policies typically don’t have any waiting period

Coverage for treatment involving orthopedic issues may have a waiting period of as long as six months. However, some companies may require you to wait up to 12 months before covering serious orthopedic conditions such as hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament tears.

Alternatives to Pet Insurance

If you don’t want to get pet insurance, you do still have options to help pay for your dog’s veterinary care. The most common alternative is to set up a savings account for any future emergencies and contribute to it on a regular basis.

You can also look into financing options such as credit cards or Care Credit. Many pet owners use their line of credit to complement their pet insurance. As some pet insurance policies require you to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement, it may be important to have an alternative if you have to wait.

Some vet clinics also offer veterinary care plans that can help reduce the cost of routine care. By paying a monthly fee, many preventative procedures are covered by the plan. Not all care plans cover emergencies, however, so it’s important to understand the limits of coverage.


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Tara Schwarz

Tarah Schwartz is a seasoned freelance writer in the lifestyle and pet care niches. She has published a number of books and has contributed to numerous blogs and websites. Prior to her work as a writer, Tarah spent over a decade working in the pet care industry as a veterinary technician and all-breed pet groomer. When she’s not writing, Tarah enjoys hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and traveling. Tarah is also active in the dog sport community, competing with her three dogs: Laszlo the Puli, Jurgen the Pumi, and Finn the Poodle Mix.