Washington state introduces new rules for pet insurance providers

Pet insurance - New Rules

A new law will require that insurers adhere to stricter regulations when covering animals.

Washington state has passed a new law that will require that pet insurance providers to comply with stricter rules. These new rules will include establishing a new standard to define precisely what a pre-existing condition is if an insurer intends to use it to deny a claim.

Vagueness in definitions of terms such as pre-existing conditions will need to be clarified.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed the coverage clarity bill into law, explaining that this new measure “better regulates the pet insurance market.”

New regulations for Pet Insurance

The goal of the new law is to help to overcome certain vague definitions that can lead consumers to purchase coverage without understanding precisely what they’re buying. Animal owners will pay premiums believing that certain expenses will be paid and yet still find themselves paying thousands of dollars for veterinary medical procedures based on misunderstanding.

In recent years, there have been dozens of complaints of this nature from Washington customers who have stated that their policies have failed to meet their expectations.

The new pet insurance law was passed in the hopes of reducing this trend in Washington.

The law now states that insurers are no longer permitted to deny a covered animal’s claim based on a pre-existing condition unless that specific condition is “directly related” to the veterinary care provided.

Additional components to the law include the elimination of the waiting periods that some insurers have been imposing before providing accidental injury coverage.

Though the law will not implement a cap to rate increases for this coverage, it does require that insurers clearly explain to policyholders that it is possible for premiums to rise based on a change of address or as the animal ages.

“Those of us who have pets that have spent a fortune on them keeping them happy and healthy couldn’t agree more that this is very much needed legislation,” said Senator Perry Dozier (R-Waitsburg) in the Senate.

The pet insurance bill, which goes into effect January 1, 2024, was sponsored by State Senator Derek Stanford, who said in a Senate floor speech that Washington did not previously have adequate laws in place to govern this type of coverage, making this move a “good consumer protection policy.” The bill passed both the state’s House and Senate unanimously.

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