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Pet Insurance Glossary

Illustration of a Pet Insurance Glossary



A sudden, unexpected or unintended action or event with a specific time and place which results in injury to your pet.

Actual Cost

The standard fees/costs that the treating veterinarian would charge, regardless of whether that customer has insurance coverage.

Alternative Therapy

Treatment that does not generally fall within the realm of conventional veterinary medicine as used by the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians (AARV).

Annual Limit

The maximum amount payable during the policy period for all covered expenses.

Bilateral Condition

A condition that affects both sides of your pet’s body; for example, hip dysplasia.

Behavioral Problem

An illness condition, either social or medical, that results from your pet’s action, inaction, or temperament that is abnormal, dysfunctional, or unusual, such as but not limited to aggression, dietary indiscretion, excessive chewing or licking, or separation anxiety.

Chronic Illnesses

Many conditions and diseases could be considered chronic, in which case they may require care across multiple plan periods and may affect quality of life if left untreated. Certain health issues, such as cancer or diabetes, could be considered chronic.


A pet insurance claim is what you submit after your pet has received treatment in order for you to be reimbursed. Though each insurance company has their preferred way for claims to be submitted, most offer multiple options such as email, fax, mail, or an app.

Common Illnesses

Common illnesses in pets are similar to those occurring in humans. Common illnesses could include cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, gastric issues, seizures, ligament damage, parvovirus and distemper, parasites and worms, salmonella and more.


Illness, disease, injury or change to your pet’s health that may or may not show symptoms or have been diagnosed. Some conditions, such as pre-existing conditions, may be excluded from pet insurance policies.

Congenital Condition

Typically, a congenital condition is something that exists at birth. It may have unknown causes, or may be related to a genetic or chromosomal abnormality, an exposure to toxins or other environmental factors, or the maternal health and well-being of the mother during pregnancy.

Covered Expenses

The actual costs for expenses that are eligible for coverage under your policy.


The amount a policyholder pays before insurance kicks in.


Tests and exams used by veterinarians to help diagnose or identify a disease or condition. Diagnostics, such as blood work, may also be used annually as part of a pet’s wellness check.


The method to determine whether a claim falls under covered events in an insurance policy.

End of Life Expenses

Expenses for euthanasia, burial and cremation.


Exclusions are items that are not covered by your insurance plan. All pet insurance providers have exclusions, though the specifics may differ from one plan and company to another. Some exclusions may include cosmetic procedures, breeding costs, and pre-existing conditions.

Explanation of Benefits (EOB)

A statement from your insurance company after a claim is submitted with details about the service provided, the veterinarian charges, the amount covered and your remaining responsibility, if any.

Hereditary Conditions

Conditions that are passed from parents to children (or puppies and kittens). Many hereditary conditions in the animal kingdom are caused by breeding programs where certain traits are selected and bred for, causing a smaller gene pool.

Holistic Medicine

Focuses on treating the whole instead of concentrating solely on a single problem. Holistic treatment focuses on preventative care and treating for environment, food, stress reduction and more.


Any sickness, disease, or medical condition not caused by an accident or injury.


Bodily harm which results directly from an accident, independent of an illness.


Just like in humans, obesity is typically caused by too much food and not enough exercise. Obesity is correlated to many illnesses and conditions.


A document between a policyholder and an insurance company detailing the terms and conditions of an insurance contract.

Policy Period

The amount of time the pet insurance policy is in force. Typically refers to a year, meaning the policy must be renewed every year.

Pre-existing Condition

This type of condition occurs or shows symptoms before the pet’s insurance coverage begins or during their waiting period. Most pet insurance providers do not cover pre-existing conditions, and companies have varying ways to define them.

Preventive Care

This refers to services that can help keep your pet healthy and are not used to treat an active problem, but rather to prevent them. Some of these services can include wellness exams, vaccines, and dental cleanings.


An agreed upon amount of money a policyholder pays for their pet’s insurance. Typically paid in monthly or annual amounts.


The amount the insurance company pays you after you have submitted an eligible claim and met your deductible.

Reimbursement Percentage

The amount of money you will be paid by the insurance company after submitting an eligible claim. For example, a 70% reimbursement percentage means you will receive 70% of your eligible claim back.

Waiting Period

A waiting period is a pre-designated amount of time that needs to pass between signing up for a plan and the coverage beginning. Not all plans have a waiting period, and each insurance provider may have a different timeframe for their waiting periods.

* Please note, definitions may vary by pet insurance company. Please review your pet insurance policy for the specific definition applicable to your policy.