What does pet insurance NOT cover?

March 3, 2021 - 8 min read

First off, we hope this article isn’t your starting place. In another article on this very site, we’ve explained just what you and your furry friend can expect from a ManyPets health insurance policy. (Hint: it covers a lot.)

And we’re in the coverage business. Far too often, pet parents are forced to eat into their savings to treat their four-legged friends. Other times, they simply let their pets go untreated—or, tragically, they choose euthanasia simply because they can’t afford treatment.

We want to help protect your treat fund—and, more importantly, your pet. Pet health insurance is about empowering you to keep your pet safe and healthy when they get sick or hurt.

With all that said, we also want you to be fully informed, and we don’t believe in burying important info in the fine print. So read on to learn what your furry friend won’t be covered for. Along the way, we’ll hand out some helpful tips for reducing the number of exclusions that may apply to your pet.

Claims that aren’t accident- or illness-related

When it comes to veterinary care, accidents and illnesses are always unexpected, and they can be more expensive than even your own health care. Helping you get your four-legged family members healthy when they’re sick or injured is what gets us out of bed in the morning.

That’s why the ManyPets pet health insurance policy reimburses you for claims related to an accident or illness. If your pup is a little too good at chasing cars or your cat’s new cough is a little more serious than a hairball, we want to give you the financial resources to get them healthy. (Some insurance companies will cover your pet for accidents but not illnesses, and we don’t think that makes much sense — all pets get sick.)

Of course, every pet parent takes their cat or dog to the vet for reasons that have nothing to do with accidents or injuries. Those are the things our insurance policy won’t cover.

So, generally speaking, insurance coverage won’t reimburse routine or preventive treatments like vaccinations, dental cleanings, or heartworm prevention. It also won’t cover things like prescription food, spaying and neutering, micro-chipping, anal gland expression, supplements, or vitamins. We also won’t reimburse for elective or cosmetic procedures. Unfortunately, this includes grooming, though we’d certainly love for your pet to be their cleanest, most lustrous self.

FYI, we’re not alone in this; companies never include this type of care in an insurance policy. But unlike many pet insurance companies, we do offer a wellness plan that covers some of them—preventive treatments and supplements in particular. (You’ll learn more about that a little later in this article.)

Claims filed during a waiting period

When you first sign your four-legged friend up for coverage, both of you will have to exercise a tiny bit of patience. Every insurance company requires a brief waiting period before claims can be covered; ours varies by state*. We promise it’ll go by in two shakes of a dog’s (or cat’s) tail.

What about pre-existing conditions?

A pre-existing condition is exactly what it sounds like: any health issue that your furry friend experienced before you signed them up for coverage. It doesn’t matter if the symptoms came and went—if they had it once, it pre-exists their coverage.

Most pet insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions—full stop, no exceptions. ManyPets’ policy is different: We’ll cover your cat or dog for a pre-existing condition if they’ve been symptom- and treatment-free for 18 months. Alas, we can’t cover more recent pre-existing conditions, but this still puts us far ahead of the pack.

Oh, one thing we should clarify: pre-existing condition exclusions only apply to that condition. So if your pet has had arthritis, that pre-existing condition will affect your arthritis coverage. But if they get an ear infection—or literally anything that isn’t arthritis—we'll reimburse you.

One last important point: There are certain types of cats and dogs that are super-duper unlikely to have pre-existing conditions. They’re called puppies and kittens. If you insure your furry friends before they’ve ever been sick, you’ll never have to give a second thought about pre-existing condition exclusions. That’s why a ton of vets advise pet parents to insure their four-legged friends immediately after their very first visit.


Pre-existing conditions and insurance - how does it work?

ManyPets has exclusions for pre-existing conditions, but past conditions don’t always prevent future coverage. Get the details.


Do you cover bilateral conditions (and also, what are those)?

So, for some reason, nature likes to dole things out in twos. Dogs and cats have two eyes, two ears, two hips, and so on. A bilateral condition is any health condition that can affect both sides of your furry friend’s body, regardless of whether it actually does affect both sides. So if your dog develops a cataract in their left eye, that’s a bilateral condition, even if it doesn’t affect the right one.

In most cases, we treat a bilateral health problem as its own distinct condition. In other words, while we will treat that cataract in the left eye as a pre-existing condition, we’ll cover any cataract that develops in their right eye after they’re insured. Our coverage does have two exclusions here: In the case of hip dysplasia or a cruciate ligament condition, health conditions that later crop on the opposite side will still be classified as pre-existing conditions.

When it comes to coverage of bilateral conditions, some pet insurance companies have stricter exclusions than others. Be sure to do your research.

Phew—that was pretty complicated, but hopefully we simplified it for you. If you need any more clarity, take a look at our policy terms here.

Does pet insurance cover pet dental care?

For ManyPets, the short answer is yes and no: We cover dental conditions related to accidents and illnesses but not routine dental care.

Now let’s do the long answer.

We’ll start by saying that your pet’s chompers are incredibly important. Whether they’re crunching kibble or gnawing on a rubber bone, those pearly whites need to be in fighting shape. Poor dental health can cause pain while eating, bad breath, and even serious health conditions like gum disease or dental infections.

Under our insurance policy, we’ll reimburse you for your pet’s dental care in two scenarios:

First, we’ll cover your pet’s dental care if their condition is due to an accident-related injury. So if your pup breaks its tooth on a chicken bone, we’ll cover that claim.

On top of that, our policy covers the cost of gum disease (aka periodontal disease, if you want to be snooty about it).

By the way, while most pet health insurance companies will cover dental claims in the case of accidents, many do not cover periodontal disease. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a huge coverage gap. Pets don’t usually get cavities like humans, and they only get injuries every so often, but periodontal disease is the most common dental ailment for both dogs and cats. In particular, it tends to become an issue for most pets at around age three.

So we strongly encourage you to do your research before settling on a policy. Some pet insurance companies won’t cover periodontal disease like they would any other illness—at least not unless you purchase this coverage as an add-on. (We're not really sure why.)

By the way, we mentioned above that our insurance plan doesn’t cover routine dental care. Basically, that means we won’t reimburse the cost of annual dental cleanings, polishings, or other services that are cosmetic or elective. But we have a couple of bits of good news.

First, if you take diligent care of your pet’s teeth, they probably won’t need quite as much routine dental care at the vet’s office. So brush your pet’s teeth, because they can’t do it on their own. And make sure you start doing it when they’re young, because dogs and cats are more resistant to tooth-brushing if you start when they’re older.

Oh, and the second bit of good news: If you sign your pet up for a ManyPets Wellness Plan, then we will reimburse you for the cost of routine dental care after all (along with several other things).

Speaking of which...

How can I find preventative or wellness coverage?

Pretty simple—just purchase a ManyPets Wellness Plan when you sign your furry friend up for insurance.

Just so you know, ManyPets uses the terms “wellness,” “preventive,” and “routine” interchangeably. Basically, we’re talking about any regularly expected care that has nothing to do with an accident or illness. Pet health insurance companies never cover wellness as part of a standard insurance policy, and only some—*ahem*—offer a wellness plan.

Our Wellness Plan will reimburse you up to $150 per year (or $600 total) for each of the following:

  • Wellness exams and routine vaccinations, including rabies, Bordetella, DHPP, FVRCP, and Lyme: $150 per year

  • Flea/tick/heartworm prevention, including heartworm testing: $150 per year

  • Dental cleanings, including brushing, scaling, and polishing: $150 per year

  • Holistic care, including supplements and treatments to help with stress, anxiety, skin, coat, bone, and joint care: $150 per year

We strongly recommend that you purchase a Wellness Plan; it guarantees that your pet will be reimbursed for anticipated costs instead of just unexpected ones, and it saves you money in the long run. You can learn more about the ManyPets Wellness Plan here.

Are there breed-specific exclusions?

Easy answer: No, there aren’t! Any and all cats and dogs are welcome.

But some are more prone to illness, and that’ll affect their premiums. For example, larger dogs often suffer from orthopedic issues, while some types of small dogs commonly deal with intervertebral disc diseases. We think your Great Danes and French Bulldogs are staggeringly adorable, but they may cost just a bit more to insure.

Oh, and cats cost less to insure than dogs. No offense meant to cats—it's just a testament to their health and longevity.

Anyway, there’s actually no need for these generalizations. If you want to know exactly how much it’ll cost to cover your four-legged friend, just get a quote here.

What about age-based exclusions?

ManyPets does have two age-based exclusions:

  • We won’t cover pets under eight weeks old

  • We won’t issue new policies to pets aged 14 years or older

Just to clarify, we will always allow existing customers to continue renewing their policies, regardless of their pets’ age.

So, is pet insurance still worth it?

You know we’re going to say yes, but we really, really mean it. The things your insurance policy does cover are the things that cost the most. And they’re also the things that mean the difference between life and death. If your dog runs in front of a car and needs emergency trauma surgery, or your cat develops cancer and needs emergency chemo and radiation, your vet bill will likely run into the thousands.

If you’re insured, the vast majority of that money will come from us, not you. Otherwise, you may be forced to forego treatment, even if your pet’s condition is absolutely treatable. We never want that to happen. We want the world to be filled with as many pets as possible.

So if you haven’t already, take a look at this article about what we do cover.

*The waiting period may be waived if you switch from another carrier and provide proof of the other insurance policy being in force within 24 hours of purchasing a ManyPets Pet Health Insurance policy.

David Teich
Lead Editor

David oversees content strategy and development at ManyPets. As Lead Editor, he focuses on delivering accurate information related to pet care and insurance. David’s editorial background spans more than a decade, including a pivotal role at Digiday, where he wrote content and managed relationships with media and tech companies. As an Associate Editor at Cynopsis Media, David wrote the Cynopsis Digital newsletter and interviewed executives and digital marketing experts in the TV industry. His background also includes film journalism. His diverse experiences in journalism and marketing underpins his role in shaping content within the pet care industry.