Apr 12, 2023 - News

Pet insurance will have to abide by new rules in Washington

Illustration of a cat with an x-ray view of its stomach revealing a dollar sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A new Washington state law will require pet insurance providers to follow stricter rules, including setting new standards for what qualifies as a pre-existing condition that can warrant denial of a claim.

What's happening: Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law late last week, saying the measure "better regulates the pet insurance market."

Why it matters: People buy pet insurance as a precaution against having to shell out thousands of dollars for medical procedures for their animals. But in dozens of cases in recent years, customers in Washington complained that their pet insurance policies haven't met their expectations, Axios found.

Details: The new law says insurers can deny a pet's medical coverage based on a pre-existing condition only if that condition is "directly related" to the new ailment.

  • The law will also eliminate the waiting periods some pet insurance policies impose before covering accidental injuries.
  • While it won't cap annual pet insurance rate increases, it requires companies to clearly explain to customers that their premiums can rise as animals get older, or if owners move.

What they're saying: State Sen. Derek Stanford, the bill's sponsor, said in a Senate floor speech that the state lacked laws specifically governing pet insurance, making the new measure a "good consumer protection policy."

  • The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously.
  • "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," state Sen. Perry Dozier (R-Waitsburg) said on the Senate floor.

What's next: The new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.


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