What are congenital and hereditary conditions?

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You'll probably see these terms referred to when you're shopping for pet insurance. What do they mean?

  • A hereditary condition is one that is linked to genetics - meaning it was passed down from your pet's parents. Example hereditary conditions include diabetes, cherry eye and hip dysplasia.

  • A congenital condition is not linked to genetics. It's related to things that happened while your pet was still developing in utero. Examples of congenital conditions include heart defects, cleft palate, and defects in other organs or limbs.

Some conditions might be both congenital and hereditary. The tricky thing about congenital and hereditary conditions is that they may not appear for years. So you wouldn't know your otherwise healthy pet has one until it shows up - and treatment is often expensive. For this reason, we encourage pet insurance buyers to consider only policies that cover congenital and hereditary conditions. But wait - you might think that you don't need this coverage if your pet's breed isn't prone to these types of conditions. It's true that certain breeds have higher risks for these conditions; however, that doesn't mean that your pet, if not one of these breeds, is risk-free. Also, policies that exclude coverage for congenital and hereditary conditions give the insurance company more "wiggle room" - it gives them the ability to determine that a certain health condition, where the cause is unknown and difficult to determine, is congenital or hereditary. That means your claim would be denied. To avoid these situations, and to make sure your pet is covered, we recommend getting a policy that covers congenital and hereditary conditions, without limit.