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How Long Does Pet Insurance Take to Kick In? Waiting Period Explained

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

pet insurance care concept

Shopping for pet insurance is harder than it looks. You have to search for the most comprehensive coverage for the best monthly rates. You have to choose deductibles, reimbursements, optional riders, and annual coverage. And let’s not forget waiting periods.

But wait, what’s a waiting period?

A waiting period is an allotted time before your coverage begins. It happens the day after you purchase a policy. There’s no coverage for your pet during this time, and you can’t file any claims. Waiting periods aren’t the most important thing to consider when buying pet insurance, but you shouldn’t ignore them.

Every insurance company has different waiting periods for different coverages. To help you out, we’re dissecting the waiting periods of several popular insurance companies. Even if your insurance company isn’t listed, you can still learn a lot about why waiting periods exist (and why they’re important).

Let’s jump in.



How Long Is a Pet Insurance Waiting Period?

Most pet insurance companies have waiting periods, so it’s normal if your pet insurance coverage doesn’t start immediately. These waiting periods only apply to the first 12-month policy purchases. You shouldn’t have another waiting period when your policy renews the following year.

How long these waiting periods last entirely depends on the insurance company and illness.

Take a look at the chart below to see what we’re talking about.

Accident Illness Orthopedic Claims Processing
Nationwide 2 days 14 days 6 months 30 days
Pets Best 3 days 14 days 6 months 10 to 30 days
Lemonade 2 days 14 days 6 months 2 days
Spot 14 days 14 days 14 days 10 to 14 days
Pumpkin 14 days 14 days 14 days 30 days
ASPCA 14 days 14 days 14 days 30 days
MetLife 24 hours 14 days 6 months 10 days
Hartville 14 days 14 days 14 days 30 days
HealthyPaws 15 days 15 days 12 months 10 days
Fetch 15 days 15 days 6 months 15 days
Trupanion 5 days 30 days 30 days 7 days
Embrace 2 days 14 days 6 months 15 days
AKC 2 days 14 days 6 months 2 to 30 days
Pet Assure 0 days 0 days 0 days 0 days
USAA 2 days 14 days 6 months 2 to 5 days
Bivvy 14 days 14 to 30 days 6 to 12 months 1 day
ManyPets 15 days 15 days N/A 14 to 21 days
Prudent Pets 5 days 14 days 6 months 3 to 30 days
TrustedPals 14 days 14 days 12 months 10 days


A nice perk to comprehensive coverage with great prices is a short accident coverage period. The average waiting period for accident coverage is about 7–8 days.

Usually, accident coverage has the shortest waiting period. But you can see that many pet insurance companies umbrella their accident and illness coverage under the same waiting period.

We love Nationwide and Pets Best because they offer great coverage with customizable plans, and a short accident waiting period. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s nice to know that the policy you’re paying for starts sooner rather than later.

a woman helps an injured dog in front of a car
Image Credit: Nehris, Shutterstock


Illness coverage takes about 14 days to kick in. If you want a Bivvy or Trupanion policy, you can expect to wait up to a month before your illness coverage begins. At least Trupanion makes up for this with a short accident waiting period.


The average waiting period for orthopedic conditions is 6 months. Looking at the chart, you’ll notice that some pet insurance companies like Trupanion or Spot don’t have an extended waiting period for orthopedics.

Some pet insurance companies will reduce the waiting period for orthopedics through an orthopedic exam and waiver process. The new waiting period varies, but it averages around 14 days instead of the initial 6 months.

Preventative Care

As you shop for pet insurance, you’ll notice many pet insurance companies offer a preventative care rider. This means you pay an additional monthly cost to cover annual exams, vaccines, and parasite prevention.

Some pet insurance companies allow preventive care coverage to start right away. Others will factor preventative care into the illness coverage.

pet insurance claim concept
Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Claims Processing

Claims processing is the time the insurance company takes to review your claim and reimburse you. Technically, it’s not a waiting period. But you are waiting for your money and long claims processing times can be a drag.

The claims processing time shouldn’t make or break your decision. You want your insurance company to take some time to review your claim. But it’s a nice perk! Especially when you’re in a financial pickle.

If you still would have a difficult time choosing the right pet insurance policy, comparing the different options is one of the best ways to make the best decision. These are just a few possible top-rated options you can go for:

Top Rated Pet Insurance Companies:

Most Affordable
Our rating: 4.3 / 5
Most Customizable
Our rating: 4.5 / 5
Best Wellness Plans
Our rating: 4.1 / 5

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Why Pet Insurance Companies Have Waiting Periods

It seems like insurance companies give us waiting periods because they’re stingy. But there’s a reason why they do this.

Insurance companies don’t want dog owners buying insurance only after their dog is sick. It wouldn’t be fair to the company, and they may have to raise rates. A waiting period protects companies from pet owners who buy a policy to cover one procedure and then cancel.

Sadly, this means you can purchase a policy while your pet is sick, but the insurance company won’t cover your pet. At least not right away.

Can I Buy Pet Insurance With No Waiting Period?

Some pet insurance companies will reduce the waiting period for a specific ailment, but it’s rare to find an insurance company with no waiting period.

You may have noticed the exception to this rule on the chart: Pet Assure.

Pet Assure offers no age limitations, no medical condition exclusions, no deductibles, and no waiting periods. They accept all pet species, and no claim is ever denied. It’s a pet insurance dream come true!

So, what’s the catch?

Pet Assure is only available as an employee benefit. Unfortunately, independent policyholders aren’t allowed. But now, you can discuss with your employer or HR department about offering Pet Assure pet insurance as a benefit!

woman holding pet insurance form
Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock




How long a waiting period lasts depends on the insurance company and illness. That’s why paying attention to waiting periods is important in selecting the right pet insurance. It’s not a make-or-break deal, but it’s a nice perk and usually a sign of good customer service.

There’s a lot to think about when shopping for pet insurance. And now you know one more thing about pet insurance to help you decide. It seems small, but it makes a difference!


Featured Image Credit: Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

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