Merrick, thanks again so much for sharing your story with the readers!
If you read my previous blog post, "Switching Pet Insurance Companies In Midstream," then you know what I went through in order to determine which pet health insurance company I felt was best for my 10yo dog, Frida. In this “Part 2,” I want to share with you the process I undertook to make sure, in advance, that I wouldn't get surprises after I had signed up. I asked for an Underwriter's Review or Medical Records Review. This is something that the pet insurance companies don't always offer outright, so you may need to press them a bit further and ask for it.
An underwriter's review lets you know if there are any pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered. Requirements for this review vary from company to company. Some companies require all of your pet’s previous medical records while others may only ask for the previous couple of years for review.
In my case, Petplan required at least two years of Frida’s veterinary records since she was an older dog. Within the first 30 days after I applied for coverage, I received a document called the Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Endorsement( Download Petplan Exclusion).
When you receive this document, if you aren’t satisfied with the results of the review, you can withdraw from the plan and get your money refunded as long as you haven’t filed a claim. Then, you are free to start anew with a different insurer. However, more than likely whatever the first insurer finds as pre-existing, the second company will as well. But, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
I'm fortunate because Frida, now nearly 11 years of age, has experienced a mostly trouble-free life, health-wise. Her main problem has been allergic dermatitis. We have tried different medications and therapies for that. The underwriter listed her allergies as a pre-existing condition that would not be covered, identifying it as "Atopy - Lifetime exclusion." They go on further to say "...allergies can be managed, they cannot be cured."
The only other problem has been the existence of a small lipoma (a benign fatty tumor) on her side, which she already had when I picked her up at a pound a decade ago. It has never seemed to bother her. Actually, it’s more bothersome for me because every time a new person meets and pets her they are quick to ask me, “Do you know about this bump on her side?” I really do appreciate their concern. Fortunately, my current vet and every vet before him always reconfirms that it is just a lipoma and the only time I would need to worry is if it grew larger. It never has.
But given all that history, Petplan sees the lipoma as a pre-existing condition: "Dermal mass (right axilla) - Lifetime exclusion." To my surprise, however, their underwriter has made this exclusion conditional – in favor of the policyholder. They go on to say about the lipoma: "....if it is removed and biopsied, this exclusion may be open to review and removed or narrowed based on those results." I appreciate that, and certainly didn’t expect this from an insurance company.
So, with the Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion Endorsement in hand right at the inception of our policy, I have an even clearer piece of mind. I know, going forward, that unless one of the conditions on the document is the problem, that Petplan will cover it.
If you don't do an underwriter's review in the early stages of the policy, pet insurance companies will usually request your pet’s medical records when you submit your first claim – especially if it is for an illness. So, for all practical purposes, the underwriter's review will happen then and you may be in for a shock that the condition you're submitting a claim for isn't covered. So, it's always good to have this process done at the very beginning.
***The views and opinions expressed by guest bloggers are their own and not necessarily shared by the author of this blog. This blog does not endorse any particular insurance company, but does seek to help pet owners in their quest to find the right company and policy for their pet.