Best Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period in July 2024

If you’re in the process of buying pet insurance, you’ll probably breathe a big sigh of relief once you sign the policy. Your precious pooch or fabulous feline is finally covered, right?

Unfortunately, you’ll likely need to temper your excitement. The vast majority of pet insurance policies have some kind of waiting period before their coverage kicks in and your claims will be reimbursed. 

But there are some pet insurers out there that offer full or partial coverage immediately. And quite a few reputable insurers have relatively short waiting periods for different aspects of their coverage. 

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  • Most insurers set a defined waiting period between when you purchase a pet insurance policy and when your coverage will actually kick in.
  • Standard waiting periods range from two to five days for accidents, 14 to 30 days for illnesses, and six months to one year for orthopedic conditions.
  • Pet insurance with no waiting period at all is hard to find and difficult to qualify for.

. . .

Overview of the Best Pet Insurance With No (or Short) Waiting Periods

Best forWaiting periodsCopayCoverage limit
Companion ProtectNo waiting periodNone10%$100,000 lifetime
ASPCANo-wait preventive care14 days for illnesses and accidents; none for preventive care10% to 30%$2,500 annual to unlimited
MetLifeShort accident waiting period<24 hours for accidents and preventive care; 14 days for illnesses10% to 50%$500 annual to unlimited
PumpkinShort orthopedic waiting period14 days for all covered conditions10%Min. $10K annual for dogs; $7K annual for cats (no maximum limit)
AKC Pet InsuranceShort preexisting conditions waiting period2 days for most accidents; 14 days for most illnesses; 365 days for preexisting conditions10% to 30%$2,500 to unlimited coverage

Best for No Waiting Period: Companion Protect

  • Waiting periods: None
  • Deductible: $100
  • Copay: 10%
  • Coverage limit: $100,000 for a policy’s lifetime
  • Exclusions: Vaccines, routine dental treatments, parasite prevention, preexisting conditions
  • Discounts: Up to 15% for multi-pet policies; active or retired military; veterinary hospital employees; animal shelter and rescue employees, volunteers, or fosters 

. . .

Kansas-based Companion Protect is one of the rare pet insurance providers that issues policies without a waiting period. What’s more, its premiums don’t vary based on your pet’s breed or age.

Companion Protect offers only one plan. It comes with a 10% copay for accidents, illnesses, and prescription medication, while prescription food has a 50% copay.

The company boasts an “industry-leading claim approval rate” and reports that its claims are reimbursed within three to five days of submission — which is fast for pet insurance.

There are, however, a few catches. Only dogs and cats that have been adopted from one of Companion Protect’s partner shelters within 35 days prior to taking out a Companion Protect policy are eligible for coverage.

The company does not provide a list of partner shelters, so pet owners must confirm their adopted pet’s eligibility on a case-by-case basis. 

While Companion Protect’s policies do include one annual wellness exam for pets under the age of seven and two annual exams for those ages seven and up, you’ll have to pay entirely out of pocket for any and all vaccinations.

Finally, although Companion Protect issues policies in all 50 states, its discounts aren’t necessarily available nationwide.

Best for Preventive Care: ASPCA

  • Waiting periods: 14 days for illnesses and accidents; none for preventive care
  • Deductible: $100 to $500
  • Copay: 10% to 30%
  • Coverage limits: $2,500 annually to unlimited
  • Exclusions: Preexisting conditions, cosmetic procedures, pregnancy
  • Discounts: 10% for multi-pet policies

. . .

Preventive care coverage can reduce out-of-pocket expenses for your pet’s routine checkups and keep them from developing serious (and expensive) health issues down the road.

The nonprofit American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers two different preventive care packages for cats and dogs: basic and prime. 

The basic package is quite robust, as it includes annual wellness exams, dental cleanings, and standard vaccines (like rabies), among other treatments.

The prime package includes everything offered in the basic package, as well as additional treatments like spaying or neutering, blood tests, urinalysis, additional vaccines, and preventive medication for parasites like fleas and heartworms. 

Regardless of which package you choose, ASPCA’s preventive care coverage has no waiting period, so you can sign up for ASPCA’s insurance in the morning and start your pet’s preventive care treatments by lunchtime.

That said, keep in mind that ASPCA’s preventive care coverage is only available as an add-on to your base pet insurance plan, which may push your monthly premiums up higher than what you’d pay for an insurer that includes preventive care within its base plan.

Best for Accidents: MetLife

  • Waiting periods: <24 hours for accidents and preventive care; 14 days for illness
  • Deductible: $0 to $2,500
  • Copay: 10% to 50%
  • Coverage limits: $500 annually to unlimited
  • Exclusions: Cosmetic procedures, microchipping, grooming
  • Discounts: Online purchase; military, first responder, animal care, and healthcare workers

. . .

Most pet insurers have at least a two-day waiting period before accident coverage kicks in; MetLife is unusual in that its accident coverage starts at midnight following your policy purchase.

So, if you get a MetLife pet insurance policy and the next morning your cat swallows something that definitely isn’t digestible, you can bring them in for emergency surgery without draining your savings account to pay for it.

And then, if kitty subsequently refrains from ingesting other foreign objects and you go claim-free for a full year, MetLife will decrease your deductible by $25 or $50, depending on your policy type.

Just be aware that unlike some of its competitors, MetLife does base its premiums on a pet’s breed and age, so it’s best for pets that are relatively young and of a breed that isn’t known for developing health problems.

If your pet is of a more advanced age (i.e., 10 years old for a medium-sized dog and 11 years old for a cat) or if it’s a breed that has a relatively high chance of getting cancer, like a purebred Boxer, you might get lower premiums with a different insurer.

Best for Orthopedic Conditions: Pumpkin

  • Waiting periods: 14 days for all covered conditions
  • Deductible: $100 to $1,000
  • Copay: 10%
  • Coverage limits: Minimum $10,000 annually for dogs and $7,000 annually for cats with no maximum limit
  • Exclusions: Incurable preexisting conditions
  • Discounts: 10% for multi-pet policies

. . .

Some orthopedic conditions, like hip dysplasia, which commonly affects larger dogs, must be treated with surgery to prevent severe pain and mobility loss.

That surgery can cost up to $7,000 or so when paid out of pocket, in which case a significantly reduced waiting period can be a financial game-changer.

Most pet insurers have a waiting period of six months to one year before they reimburse claims for orthopedic treatments. Pumpkin’s waiting period is 14 days for any covered condition, including orthopedic issues, provided your pet is at least eight weeks of age.

And while some insurers set a maximum age limit for covered orthopedic conditions, Pumpkin does not.

However, Pumpkin doesn’t cover incurable preexisting conditions, and its premiums vary based on a pet’s age and breed.

Minimum coverage limits are also rather high, which may result in relatively high premiums.

Best for Preexisting Conditions: AKC Pet Insurance

  • Waiting periods: Two days for most accidents; 14 days for most illnesses; 365 days for preexisting conditions 
  • Deductible: $100 to $1,000
  • Copay: 10% to 30%
  • Coverage limits: $2,500 to unlimited
  • Exclusions: Elective procedures, obesity treatments, periodontal disease, parasites 
  • Discounts: 5% for multi-pet policies

. . .

Preexisting conditions (medical issues that showed symptoms prior to the end of a policy’s waiting period) typically aren’t covered by pet insurers. But AKC covers both curable and incurable preexisting conditions, like diabetes or chronic ear infections, following a 365-day waiting period. 

And AKC is currently offering a special promotion in which new policyholders get 30 days of accident and illness coverage for free. The free 30 days count toward the 365-day waiting period for preexisting conditions, and you can choose to either continue the policy after 30 days by providing AKC with your credit card info, or you can go with a different provider.

But there are some drawbacks to AKC’s policies that are unusual among top pet insurance providers. Certain accidents, like ingestion of toxins or foreign bodies, are only covered once in a pet’s lifetime. Other issues, like parasites, aren’t covered at all.

Finally, residents of California and Washington state aren’t eligible for the 30-day promotion.

What Is a Waiting Period When Signing Up for Pet Insurance?

The term “waiting period” refers to a predefined stretch of time between when you purchase a new pet insurance policy and when veterinary treatments are covered by your insurer.

An issue developed by your pet during the waiting period will be treated as a preexisting condition by your insurance provider and won’t be covered under most plans.

Covered issues that pop up after a waiting period ends, however, are eligible for reimbursement.

Pet insurance waiting period example

Let’s say you sign up for a new pet insurance policy, and to celebrate, your Australian Shepherd does a victory leap from your sofa to the floor, lands the wrong way, and breaks a toenail.

To prevent a bone infection, you bring Aussie to the vet for an exam, nail trim, antibiotics, and sedation while the injury is treated. The bill for all of the above comes out to $300.

If you have pet insurance with no waiting period, that broken nail was covered the moment you enrolled. In that circumstance, you’d just have to file a claim, and then your insurer would reimburse you for the bill, minus your deductible and copay.

But it’s more likely for a policy to have a waiting period of at least two days for accidents. And because Aussie took his fateful leap right after you signed the policy, you’ll have to dip into your emergency fund and pay out of pocket for his treatment if you have a standard insurance plan.

Choosing Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period

Being able to start coverage right away can be quite a relief. But the waiting period (or lack thereof) isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing pet insurance.

Consider how the insurer fares on each of the following:

  • Preventive care: Are annual checkups and vaccines included in the regular plan, or do you need to buy additional coverage that will increase your premium?
  • Age/breed discrimination: If your pet is considered “senior” or if its breed is prone to hereditary health issues, you can save money by going with an insurer that doesn’t factor age or breed into its premiums.
  • Discounts: If you have more than one pet, served in the U.S. Armed Forces, or work/volunteer in an animal care capacity, some insurers give you discounts for checking those boxes.
  • Deductibles, copays, and coverage limits: Some insurers offer one set deductible, copay, and annual coverage limit; others have a range you can choose from. A higher deductible and copay and/or a lower coverage limit can keep your monthly premium low.

If you’re looking at a policy from a pet insurer with no waiting period and you find an aspect of its plan unsatisfactory, contact a few top pet insurance providers that do have waiting periods and see how their quotes compare with the no-wait pet insurance.

Note that some pet insurers might have a degree of flexibility with their waiting periods in certain circumstances.

For instance, insurers might be willing to waive their usual waiting periods if you can demonstrate that your pet is currently covered by a competing insurance provider. 

How to Get Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period

If you’ve confirmed that a no-wait pet insurer meets your coverage needs and its quote is comparable with competitors, you can take these steps to complete the enrollment process:

  1. Double-check if your pet qualifies. The rare insurance company that doesn’t have waiting periods may instead have strict qualification requirements for the pets it insures. For instance, it might only insure certain animal species or animals adopted from specific shelters.
  2. Apply. Navigate to the insurer’s website and be ready to supply more detailed info than what you submitted to get a quote. For instance, you’ll probably need to provide contact information for your primary veterinary clinic.
  3. Complete an enrollment exam. The insurer will review your pet’s medical records to determine if any preexisting conditions will be excluded from the policy. If your pet hasn’t seen a veterinarian recently, a checkup may be required.
  4. Take a close look at the policy. Before you sign, search the policy document for key terms related to your coverage needs. Is it missing any of your must-haves?
  5. Preauthorize credit card charges. Once you submit your payment details, you should be covered.

FAQs

How long is the waiting period for pet insurance?

Though some pet insurers may have the same waiting period for any covered issue, most have different waiting periods for different medical needs. Pet insurance waiting periods will typically last at least:

  • 2 days for accidents
  • 14 days for illnesses
  • 6 months for orthopedic conditions

Preexisting conditions are rarely covered by pet insurers. But if an insurer does cover preexisting conditions, it will likely require a waiting period of at least one year.

Why is there a waiting period for pet insurance?

Waiting periods help insurers prevent fraudulent claims for preexisting conditions or injuries incurred prior to purchasing an insurance policy.

The abundance of fraudulent claims that might result from having no waiting period would inflate an insurance company’s operating costs, jeopardize its profitability, and threaten its ability to do business.

Which pet insurance has no waiting period?

Companion Protect has no waiting periods at all, but your pet must have been adopted from one of its partner shelters to qualify for its coverage. 

Otherwise, the ASPCA has no waiting period for preventive care, and MetLife has a very short waiting period (less than 24 hours) for accidents.

. . .

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.