Other Animals

Pet Insurance and Exotic Pets: What You Need to Know


Talk to insurance companies to see what coverage they offer for exotic pets. By: carstengoerke

Pet insurance is rapidly becoming more popular. Veterinary costs can quickly climb into the thousands of dollars, and many people aren’t prepared to cope with that sort of unexpected expense.

This is where pet insurance steps in. It’s like health insurance for your pet. For a standard rate, your pet insurance company offers you a plan to cover various routine and emergency requirements — things like exams, lab work, accidents and injuries.

Sounds like a great deal, but not everyone has the traditional dog or cat. So will pet insurance cover your exotic pet?

The Basics of Pet Insurance

Varying types of policies cover different medical needs. Basic policies generally cover medical needs resulting from extreme circumstances like injuries or illness. Then you can add a “wellness” policy designed to help cover more mundane issues, like routine exams, lab work and, in some cases, even dental care.

Dogs and cats are easy to cover — their species are well known, well studied and well understood. They are also the most prevalent pets in the country.

When we start segueing into exotics, it can be a lot more complicated to offer coverage, which is why many pet insurance companies don’t yet cover exotic pets.

When looking for a policy, it’s best to call your chosen insurance company and talk to them about what type of animal you have and what exactly each plan will cover. This is information you’re going to want now so you have it later in case of medical emergency.

Pet insurance helps you make important medical decisions for your exotic pet. By: jjheinold

Why Pet Insurance Matters

Any animal can fall suddenly ill or injured. Depending on what tests and treatments are needed, the bill can be catastrophic to a household budget.

The worst position you’d ever be in? Standing in the veterinary hospital, trying to make the agonizing decision of whether to authorize a costly procedure — even though it means you can’t pay the mortgage.

Pet insurance is designed to prevent you from ever having to make that impossible call, so it’s well worth the small investment every month. In exotics’ cases, your bills may be even higher because they may need extra or different care than the average cat or dog requires.

Plan costs vary depending on factors like species, age and preexisting conditions. To illustrate this, Nationwide published an infographic in November 2017 stating that the average cost to cover an exotic pet is $9 per month. For comparison, birds are shown to average $15.75 per month, reptiles $8 per month and dogs at $38.58 per month.

A Sampling of Pet Insurance Companies

Nationwide Pet Insurance

Nationwide (formerly known as VPI) is one of the few pet insurance companies that cover dogs, cats, some birds and many exotics. It offers coverage on a wide range of exotics, including birds, ferrets, hedgehogs, potbellied pigs, snakes and more.

Nationwide states on its website that it covers “accidents and illnesses as well as examinations, lab fees, prescriptions, X-rays, hospitalization and more.”

Some companies offer discounts on medical services instead of full insurance coverage. By: PDPics

XInsurance

XInsurance also covers some exotic pets. The policy is tailored to your specific type of exotic pet, and it may not offer you anything more than help with medical costs in the event of an accident, depending on your type of pet. This is likely because, according to XInsurance, most exotics require more maintenance than the average dog or cat.

Pet Assure

Pet Assure isn’t an insurance program; it’s a discount program and a good option for people who simply can’t find an insurance company that can cover their particular exotic pet. Pet Assure offers discounts on a huge range of needs, including emergencies, routine visits, dental work and more.

Pet Assure does not discount everything, though: “Non-medical services such as routine grooming and boarding, outsourced services such as blood work sent to a lab or an outside specialist, mileage fees, and products you take home such as medications and food are not discounted.”

Even without discounts on lab work or prescriptions, the plan may potentially to ease the financial burden significantly.

Ever consider having a llama for your next pet?:

Do Your Homework

While pet insurance may be an easier process to wind through than human health insurance, it’s important for people to do their own research.

  • Make sure your pet insurance company covers the needs of your specific exotic pet.
  • Understand what to expect when visiting the veterinarian.
  • Know what your coverage is.

To this last point, some companies will not cover anything more than accident-related injury, while others may offer full coverage. You may not be able to get insurance at all if you have a wildly exotic pet; in that case, look for discount programs.

And most important of all: Enjoy your exotic pet!

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