Underwriting is the process where insurance providers evaluate the risk /exposure of potential customers. In pet insurance terms this means how much risk is your pet ? A 10 year old dog with past health problems is more likely to continue having health problems compared to a 6 month old puppy with no evidence of health problems. This is why many Pet insurance providers will not offer illness insurance for dogs over 9 years of age.
When applying for pet insurance there are two types of underwriting upfront or at claim time.
The benefit of underwriting upfront is the insurance company gathers information to assess your pet insurance upon application and will let you know what is and what is not covered upfront if your pet has pre-existing conditions. This process can take longer compared to a policy this is underwritten at claim time but provides greater piece of mind. Petplan is an example of a pet insurance provider who underwrites their policies upfront.
The alternative to underwriting upfront is underwriting at claim time. This means the insurance company gathers information at claim time and if pre-existing conditions can be linked to your claim it may be denied. This means you may think you are covered for everything but actually you may not be depending on your pets health history.
You are best to ask how the pet insurance company underwrites their policies and how pre-existing conditions are handled try and avoid any nasty surprises, especially if your pet has had health problems in the past.