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What is an ‘exclusion’ in pet insurance?

Pet insurance covers a wide range of illness, injury and accidents but some policies do have some “exclusions”. When looking at pet insurance, always read the small print, the terms and conditions. Have you read about what exclusions your policy has? Do you know what they are or how they affect you and your pet?

Exclusions are areas that your insurance does not cover, this can vary from provider and vary from policy to policy. 

There are two really common and important ones that EVERYONE needs to know about:

Insuring your pet after diagnosis

We hear about people doing this all the time. There is nothing, of course, stopping you from taking out insurance cover after your pet has been diagnosed with a disease condition. However as your pet has had a diagnosis and it is all written in their history, this illness or injury will be excluded as it would be classed as an existing problem. 

The first few weeks after insurance is taken out

When taking out an insurance policy it is common for veterinary treatment not to be covered in the first 14 to 30 days. In some policies, accidents will be covered but not illness, but in others, everything is excluded. Once this waiting period is over then any conditions or illness is then covered.

Other exclusions

There are a range of other insurance exclusions you might come across, depending on your pet, your policy, and your lifestyle (and, even more importantly, theirs!).

Routine and preventative health care. 

This includes vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, neutering and any dental treatment. Any of these would need to be covered by you – and this is what Health Plans are for.

Illness and injury that are already pre-existing. 

This means injuries and illness that your pet already had before taking out an insurance policy will not be covered. Any of this should be declared to the insurance provider. This also counts if a new policy is taken out and the previous one is cancelled or expires (for example, with “one year” or “annual” policies).

Pregnancy and birthing. 

This is not covered by most insurance providers. There are some insurance providers that specialise in this especially for breeders which can be found at the Kennel Club. If anything like a Caesarian is needed, again normal insurance policy’s will not cover this so again it’s an exclusion. 

Dental treatment. 

This varies across providers. Some providers will not cover for this whilst some will cover if it is always noted every year on your pets check up about their dental hygiene.

Administration costs. 

This is almost never covered by insurance. Administration costs would be the cost a practice is charging to complete an insurance form. These forms take some time to fill out, we have to check history and get a vet to sign it and send it away. 

Special diets. 

Sometimes pets require special veterinary diets to help with their condition. Some insurance providers will exclude these whilst others may not. 


Some patients are recommended to go to a behaviourist. Again this depends on your insurance policy.  Most do exclude this, but a few lifetime policies include it. 

Bilateral conditions. 

This refers to conditions that apply to both sides of the body (for example, a left and a right back leg). This exclusion can apply to conditions such as hip dysplasia, cruciate injuries, eye problems and many more. If the pet has already suffered with one condition on one side then normally the other side is excluded – but once again, each provider is different.

Preventable diseases. 

This would be excluded if a pet contracted a disease, virus that could have possibly be prevented with a vaccination. In order for this to always be covered, the appropriate yearly up to date vaccinations (in line with the manufacturer’s licence) should always be given. This is increasingly common across all policy types, although in some cases, if your vet advises against vaccination for medical reasons, it may not apply.

Breed exclusions. 

Unfortunately there are breeds, especially of dogs, out there that are particularly predisposed to problems. As these problems are getting more and more common, some insurance providers refuse to insure these breeds. Or they can be insured but at a higher rate. 

Age exclusion.

Some younger animals 10 weeks or younger are excluded from insurance. Older animals are almost never excluded, but may come with a range of excluded conditions, or be extortionately expensive to insure.

“Dangerous dogs”. 

Any banned breeds of dogs can still be homed in the UK but require insurance not just for an illness but public liability. Some insurance providers will exclude these breeds that are on the Dangerous Dogs Act as they are at high risk.


Some insurance providers will include this in your policy, covering a percentage of a cremation cost whilst others may exclude this. 

What to do about exclusions…

Before committing to an insurance policy always read through the small print especially the exclusions, you don’t want to be caught out. As there are many different policies, exclusions can differ, some policies are emergency treatment only so they won’t cover most things apart from emergency  situations.

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