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What paperwork do I need if I’m getting pet insurance for an adopted pet?

More and more people are now choosing to adopt when they decide to bring a companion animal into their family. With so many dogs, cats and other animals to meet who are in need of a loving family, adoption is the most rewarding way to find that special friend who deserves a second chance. It’s also becoming much easier since stores such as Petbarn have partnered with animal shelters by acting as adoption centres, which means the right pet for you could be much closer to home than you realise!

Considerations when taking out pet insurance for an adopted pet

When adopting a pet, make sure you use a reputable rescue organisation so you know all the animals have been thoroughly checked by a veterinarian and assessed as suitable for rehoming. Most reputable pet shelters will ensure that their animals are already desexed and microchipped before you adopt them. Adoption shelters are also very knowledgeable when it comes to matching people with pets, and will help you consider important issues such as the animal’s needs and how well you can meet these with your family situation and lifestyle.

Another crucial consideration is whether you will be able to provide for your pet’s health needs, especially in the event of a specified unexpected illness or injury. Check your Policy Booklet to gain more clarity on what a Specified Accidental Injury is, to fully understand what is covered and what is not. Pet insurance can help to provide peace of mind but how does this process work for adopted pets?

What paperwork do I need to provide when submitting a claim?

The paperwork needed when making a claim may vary depending on how you acquired your pet. 

If you’ve adopted your pet from a shelter

In this case, when you make your first claim your insurer may ask you to provide their shelter adoption certificate. This may or may not cite pre-existing conditions – if it does, those may be taken into account when assessing a claim. Your pet’s vet history from the date of adoption may also be required.

Each insurer has their own claims process so you'll need to check your specific policy documents for a full list of required paperwork and guidelines. If you are unsure if a  pre-existing condition will affect your ability to claim, then check your Policy Booklet or contact your insurer by phone and talk to them to help you understand exactly what you and your pet are covered for.

If your pet was given to you by a family member/friend

In this case, you should be able to obtain a vet history of your pet from the period of time prior to you taking ownership of your pet from your family member/friend. Therefore, you may be asked to provide a full vet history when making a claim.

If your pet was bought/purchased from another owner

In this case, you may be asked for proof of the transfer (for example, a receipt or the ad where you found your new pet). In some of these instances the vet history is waived from the date of the ownership transfer. Note: Any conditions that shows signs or symptoms after the date of transfer and prior to the conclusion of any applicable waiting periods will usually be considered a pre-existing condition.

For example: If any condition existed or occurred prior to the commencement date of your first policy period and you or your vet were aware of the condition, then it may be considered to be a pre-existing condition and excluded from cover. Remember, it’s important to know what exclusions exist, so get in touch with your insurer or check your Policy Booklet.

What if I can't find out my new pet's age or breed? 

Sometimes when pets are rehomed from shelters, the staff have no record of their date of birth or their breeding. This is especially the case with cats or dogs who were handed in as strays. This is not a problem! Although every insurer is different, most pet insurance providers will simply ask you to have your cat or dog examined by a registered vet to determine their age and breed. 

Every year, insurers typically review the cost of everyone’s insurance by looking at a combination of factors, including your pet’s age and breed, as well as data relating to the health of pets that are a similar age and breed. Your premium takes into account the average cost of care for pets like yours.

What conditions won’t be covered for my adopted pet?

Pre-existing medical conditions usually won’t be covered by pet insurance, and this is no different for adopted animals – it applies to any animal showing signs of a condition before being insured.

Most pet insurance policies also have other general exclusions you’ll need to consider, such as not providing cover for dental procedures, preventative treatments, alternative therapies or treatment of behavioural problems. It’s advised to read over the relevant policy documents for any type of cover you plan on taking out for your pet to make sure your new cat or dog will be covered for specified accidental injuries and any illness conditions that may occur. This will also ensure that you understand limits to the cover provided for any conditions (such as cruciate ligament disease) and whether your pet will be covered for routine care. For example: Some insurers now list that cruciate ligament conditions are on the list of pre-existing chronic conditions that you won’t be covered for. If in doubt, or when you don’t understand something, it’s important to check your Policy Booklet – or contact your insurer to get more information.

Bringing home an adopted pet is an exciting time for both of you. Taking out pet insurance can give you the security of knowing you can manage the financial cost of caring for your new companion if they suffer a specified injury or illness, so why not look into a policy today?

You can’t always avoid a trip to the vet, but you can be prepared and help to protect your back pocket against potentially huge bills with a pet insurance policy.