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Waiting Period – Pet Insurance Terms

pet insurance waiting period

What is a Waiting Period?

A waiting period is the time between the day you enroll and the day coverage starts. The day your coverage starts is referred to as the effective date. The reason companies have waiting periods is to avoid pet owners enrolling in a plan to cover a pre-existing condition.

There are three different waiting periods:

  • Waiting Period for Accident: 0 – 15 days
  • Waiting Period for Illnesses: 14 – 30 days
  • Waiting Period for Orthopedic Issues: 14 days – 12 months

Waiting Periods by Company

Waiting periods are pretty straightforward, but if you’re still stuck this might help.

CompanyAccidentsIllnessesOrthopedic Conditions
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation15 days15 days15 days (12 mos. for hip dysplasia)
Embrace Pet Insurance2 days (in most states)14 days6 mos. for dogs (This can be reduced by following Embrace’s Orthopedic Exam and Waiver Process)
Trupanion Pet Insurance5 days30 days30 days
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance1 day15 days15 days
Petplan Pet Insurance5 days15 days15 days (6 mos. for cruciate ligaments and patellar luxation)
Nationwide Pet Insurance14 days14 days14 days (12 mos. for cruciate and meniscus issues)
Pets Best Insurance3 days14 days14 days (6 mos. for cruciate ligaments)
FIGO Pet Insurance5 days14 days14 days (6 mos. for knee issues)


How it Works

Here is a simple example to give you a better sense of how waiting periods work in real life.

  • Effective Date: October 1st
  • Policy Period: October 1st to September 30th (all pet insurance policies are 12 months long, just like home and auto)
  • Waiting Period Accidents: 1 day from effective date
  • Waiting Period Illnesses: 14 days from effective date
  • Waiting Period Orthopedic: 6 months from effective date

Scenario #1: Your dog slips on your driveway on October 3rd

Your pooch was running after a frisbee and slips on the driveway and starts limping. You take him to the vet and after an MRI it looks like your dog tore a ligament and may need surgery. Is it covered? YES

Scenario #2: Your pooch falls suddenly ill on October 20th

Your dog is panting and you take her to the vet. Your vet then directs you to the local vet hospital for tests. It turns out your dog ate something poisonous and will need a couple days of monitoring and IV’s. Is it covered? YES

Scenario #3: Dog starts limping gingerly on November 30th

Your otherwise healthy dog has started limping around the house. You take her to the vet and after an x-ray looks like she’ll need surgery to fix hip dysplasia. Is it covered? NO


Pet insurance companies use waiting periods to prevent pet owners from enrolling in a plan because their pet is sick. Pet insurance policies are designed to protect against unexpected health issues.

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