Exotic Pet Insurance: All You Need to Know

Exotic Pet Insurance
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Most people think of pet insurance as something that’s for dogs and cats. However, you should think about buying insurance for your bird, reptile, or other exotic animal if you possess one.  Nearly 8 million Americans have a pet bird, per the American Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinarians who handle exotic pets like birds, reptiles, and pocket pets typically have extensive training and experience in exotic animal medicine. Like with people, the cost of medical treatment is projected to rise as technology improves and specialized professionals are needed. Insurance may be able to pay for many of the costs associated with treating a sick or injured pet, including examinations, medications, and surgeries. In this article, we will discuss the best exotic pet insurance, its cost, how to get one, and an overview of Nationwide exotic pet insurance.

What Is Exotic Pet Insurance?

Exotic pet insurance is a specialized type of insurance coverage designed to protect owners of non-traditional pets, such as reptiles, birds, small mammals, and exotic animals. Unlike standard pet insurance, which typically covers dogs and cats, exotic pet insurance is tailored to address the unique needs and risks associated with these unconventional pets.

This type of insurance typically covers veterinary care, including check-ups, surgeries, and treatments specific to exotic animals. It may also provide coverage for accidental injuries, illnesses, and sometimes even behavioral issues. Some policies may include additional benefits like coverage for specialized diagnostic tests, prescription medications, and alternative therapies.

Exotic pet insurance helps pet owners manage the often high costs of medical care for their non-traditional pets, ensuring that they can provide necessary treatment without worrying about the financial burden. Standard pet insurance, policy terms, and coverage options can vary, so it’s essential for pet owners to research and choose a policy that suits their exotic pet’s needs.

How Does Exotic Pet Insurance Work?

Health insurance for exotic pets serves the same purpose as standard pet health insurance. In general, you pay a monthly payment and the insurance company agrees to cover the cost of necessary veterinary medical care, although the specifics of the plans vary depending on a few things. Typically, you’ll pay the veterinarian upfront, and then your insurance provider will reimburse you for a set percentage or amount.

The cost of insuring an exotic pet can vary depending on the animal’s age, its current health, and the coverage options you select.

This insurance will cover injuries and illnesses, as well as annual examinations, lab work, prescription drugs, diagnostic testing, and hospitalization. In the event of an unexpected medical situation, you’ll want to have a plan in place so that you can give your full attention to your pet instead of worrying about how you’ll pay for its care.

What Does Exotic Pet Insurance Cover?

Reptiles, birds, rodents, tiny carnivores, pot-bellied pigs, and even goats are all covered under exotic pet insurance. However, similar to regular pet insurance, coverage is restricted to unexpected medical expenses and does not extend to normal vet treatment or preventative measures. Furthermore, preexisting conditions are not included in the coverage.

Following are some of the things that exotic pet insurance typically covers:

  • Veterinary Visits: Regular check-ups and consultations with exotic animal specialists are often covered. This includes preventive care like vaccinations and health screenings.
  • Illnesses and Injuries: Treatment costs for illnesses, injuries, and accidents are usually covered. This includes surgeries, medications, and hospitalization if necessary.
  • Diagnostic Tests: Expenses related to diagnostic procedures like blood tests, X-rays, and other imaging studies are commonly included in the coverage.
  • Prescription Medications: The cost of prescribed medications for your exotic pet may be covered under the insurance policy.
  • Chronic Conditions: Some policies cover the long-term treatment of chronic conditions that require ongoing care, such as diabetes or arthritis.
  • Surgery: Surgical procedures, whether routine or complex, are typically covered. This includes both elective surgeries and emergency procedures.
  • Alternative Therapies: Depending on the policy, the veterinarian may recommend alternative therapies like acupuncture or physical therapy.

Coverage might vary from provider to provider, so it’s crucial to read the fine print of any insurance policy you’re thinking about purchasing. Additionally, some policies might offer optional add-ons or riders for specific demands, so pet owners should examine their pet’s requirements and choose an insurance policy that best meets their exotic pet’s health concerns.

How Much Is Exotic Pet Insurance?

The cost of exotic pet insurance can vary widely based on several factors, including the type of exotic pet you have, its age, health condition, location, coverage limits, and the insurance provider you choose. On average, monthly premiums for exotic pet insurance can range from $10 to $50 or more, but this can vary significantly.

Certain exotic pets might be more expensive to insure due to the unique health risks associated with their species. Additionally, if you opt for higher coverage limits or add-on options such as wellness coverage or coverage for hereditary conditions, your monthly premium will likely increase.

To get an accurate quote for exotic pet insurance, it’s best to contact insurance providers directly or use their online tools to obtain personalized quotes. Remember to carefully review the coverage details, deductibles, and any limitations to ensure you choose a policy that provides adequate coverage for your exotic pet’s needs while fitting your budget.

What Does Exotic Pet Insurance Not Cover?

Exotic pet insurance policies typically come with certain exclusions and limitations. While the specifics can vary between providers and policies, here are some common items that might not be covered:

  • Pre-Existing Conditions: Most insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions, which are health issues your pet had before the policy’s effective date.
  • Elective Procedures: Procedures that are not medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgeries, might not be covered.
  • Experimental Treatments: Treatments or medications considered experimental or investigational are usually not covered.
  • Routine Care: Basic routine care, such as grooming, nail trimming, and vaccinations, might not be covered unless you opt for additional wellness coverage.
  • Hereditary Conditions: Some policies may exclude coverage for hereditary or congenital conditions that are common within specific exotic pet breeds.
  • Behavioral Issues: Treatment for behavioral problems, such as training or therapy, might not be covered.
  • Certain Exotic Species: Some exotic pet insurance providers may not cover certain high-risk or uncommon species. It’s important to check if your specific exotic pet is eligible for coverage.
  • Non-Veterinary Expenses: Expenses not directly related to veterinary care, such as boarding or travel costs, are generally not covered.

Before buying insurance for your exotic pet, it’s important that you read all of the policy details, including the exclusions and limitations. You can learn more about the policy’s coverage for your exotic pet by talking to the insurance company and asking questions.

Is Vet Care for Birds, Reptiles, or Other Small Exotics as Expensive as It Is for Dogs or Cats?

It’s a fantastic question and one that deserves thorough investigation. Exotic pet owners who have had them for some time or who have had them in the past often have a solid sense of how much it costs to keep their animals healthy and happy. However, it is important to remember that the cost of veterinary care is on the rise alongside the cost of everything else in recent years.

The cost of veterinary care varies widely from clinic to clinic, and specialty vets (such as those who treat birds or small pocket pets) can be both more difficult to find and more costly to see. A routine checkup for a cat typically costs roughly $60, but a checkup for a bird could cost several hundred dollars. Exotic pets often require sedation or anesthesia for a thorough veterinary exam, which can add significant expenditures to the procedure compared to a standard wellness checkup for a domesticated dog or cat.

How to Get Exotic Pet Insurance

Getting exotic pet insurance typically involves a few straightforward steps. First, research reputable insurance providers that offer coverage for exotic pets. You can do this online or by asking for recommendations from your veterinarian or other exotic pet owners. Once you’ve identified potential providers, visit their websites or contact their customer service to obtain detailed information about their policies, coverage options, and pricing.

Next, compare the policies from different providers, considering factors such as coverage limits, deductibles, premiums, and any specific exclusions. Choose a policy that aligns with your exotic pet’s needs and your budget. Some providers allow you to customize your coverage based on your pet’s unique requirements.

Fill out an application form that the insurance company has provided when you’re ready to move forward. You will likely need to provide details about your exotic pet, including its species, age, and health history. Some insurance providers may require a veterinary exam or medical records to assess your pet’s current health status.

After submitting the application, the insurance company will review your information and determine your eligibility. Once approved, you’ll need to pay the agreed-upon premium to activate the coverage. Be sure to carefully read the policy documents and understand the terms and conditions.

Remember to keep your exotic pet’s insurance policy updated and review it periodically to ensure it continues to meet your pet’s needs as they grow and their health requirements change.

What Is the Most Friendly Exotic Pet?

When it comes to friendliness, exotic pets can run wide, depending on everything from species to individual temperament to how effectively they’ve been socialized and taught. However, some exotic pets are well-liked by their owners because of their amiable and gregarious nature.

One of the most social exotic pets is the guinea pig. As sociable creatures, guinea pigs benefit from spending time with both people and other guinea pigs. They are generally easy to manage, docile, and friendly, making them wonderful pets for families and people alike.

The cockatiel, a little kind of parrot, is another option for a social exotic pet. Cockatiels have a reputation for being friendly and fun-loving. They’re friendly, easy to handle, and can be taught to imitate sounds.

Furthermore, the Holland Lop and Mini Rex, among others, are known to be sociable rabbits who thrive on early and consistent exposure to human company.

Every pet, no matter what kind, is a unique individual with its own character. The friendliness and sociability of an exotic pet can be greatly enhanced via early and consistent socialization, training, and human engagement. If you want to have a happy and healthy connection with an exotic pet, you should learn as much as possible about that species before deciding to bring it into your home.

Why Are Exotic Pets Hard to Take Care Of?

Exotic pets can be challenging to take care of due to their specialized needs, unique behaviors, and specific environmental requirements. Unlike common domestic pets like dogs and cats, exotic species often have complex dietary, habitat, and healthcare needs that are not widely understood. Properly replicating their natural habitat can be difficult, requiring specific lighting, temperature, humidity, and substrate conditions.

Additionally, finding experienced veterinarians who specialize in exotic animal care can be a challenge. Exotic pets may also have specialized dietary requirements, and ensuring they receive a balanced and appropriate diet can be intricate. Handling and socializing exotic pets can be stressful for them, as they may not be naturally inclined to interact with humans.

Furthermore, the legality of owning certain exotic species varies by location, and obtaining permits or licenses can be a complex process. Due to these factors, potential exotic pet owners need to invest significant time, effort, and resources into educating themselves about the specific needs of the exotic species they wish to keep.

Best Exotic Pet Insurance

Despite the scarcity of insurance choices for exotic pets in the United States, we spent a lot of time researching and discovering solutions so you could safeguard your friend without breaking the bank.

Even though we could only find one American insurer for exotic pets, we wanted to make sure you have options for protecting your furry friends in the event of an emergency.

#1. Nationwide Exotic Pet Insurance: Overview

In the United States, only Nationwide’s Avian & Exotic Pet Insurance policy provides protection for exotic pets. Even if an exotic pet isn’t on their website, they probably still offer services for it. However, if you want to know if they will make an exception for your pet’s breed and get a personalized quote, you should call them.

What makes exotic pet insurance from Nationwide unique are the following features:

  • Up to 90% reimbursement on any eligible vet bill;
  • A 10% copayment on your side
  • A per-incident $50 deductible;
  • A benefit schedule system listing fixed payout limits for each medical procedure and diagnostic
  • A maximum payout of $2,000 per incident;
  • A maximum payout of $7,000 per year;
  • No lifetime payout limit;
  • 14-day waiting periods for both accidents and illnesses;
  • Health coverage for any vet clinic in the world.

Nationwide offers routine care coverage for birds that is created as a wellness plan to support your birds’ well-being. The only way to get it is to purchase the primary accident and illness plan and add it as an additional rider.

To reiterate, the following animals are not eligible for coverage under a Nationwide exotic pet insurance policy:

  • Any species that is venomous or poisonous;
  • Any species that is in danger of extinction
  • Any species that you can’t own
  • Any species that you’re required to have a permit, registration, or license to own; 
  • Any species that you might keep in flocks, such as chickens or pigeons;
  • Any species that is the result of breeding wild species with domestic pets

What does a nationwide Policy Cover?

With Nationwide, you can get your money back for the following types of veterinary care:

  • Anesthetics;
  • Surgery;
  • Prescribed medicines;
  • Medical treatments for accidents and injuries;
  • Laboratory examinations and tests;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Successfully cured pre-existing conditions.

Nationwide’s health plan for birds will cover most preventative care, tests, and grooming that your pet bird needs.

What Doesn’t a Nationwide Policy Cover?

There are some things that aren’t covered by the Avian and Exotic Pet Insurance policy:

  • Pre-existing conditions;
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Congenital conditions;
  • Reproduction and pregnancies
  • Pet food;
  • Transport and boarding.

#2. Pet Assure 

Since its founding in 1995, Pet Assure has been committed to reducing the financial burden of pet ownership. It’s sold at about 5,600 outlets across the 50 states and even in Canada and Puerto Rico.

Pet Assure is a membership program where for a small monthly fee, you can receive savings of up to 25% at participating veterinarian hospitals. When it comes to exotic pets, Pet Assure covers everything from llamas to zebras and even horses and ponies, which are frequently the exclusive domain of equine insurance providers.

Unlike other insurers, Pet Assure is focused on the needs of pets. There are no exclusions, copayments, waiting periods, or maximum payouts.

The fact that Pet Assure covers even pre-existing conditions is a major selling point for us. They will take your pet in regardless of its history or the presence or absence of any genetic or congenital diseases.

You have 45 days from the time you sign up with Pet Assure to request a refund if you are unhappy with the service.

The only services that Pet Assure does not charge a discount for are those involving grooming, boarding, and the purchase of food and medications for take-home use.

In What States Can You Keep Exotic Pets?

The laws regarding keeping exotic pets vary widely from state to state and even within specific cities or counties. Some states have strict regulations and outright bans on certain exotic species to protect native wildlife and ensure public safety. Other states have more lenient laws, with specific permits and licenses required for keeping exotic animals.

It is essential to research the specific regulations in your state, county, and city, as well as to check for any recent updates or changes in the laws. Some states may allow certain exotic pets with proper permits and documentation, while others may have a complete ban on specific species.

  • Four states have no laws on keeping dangerous wild animals: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
  • Six states do not ban or regulate keeping big cats: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Oklahoma.
  • 21 states ban all dangerous exotic pets, while the rest allow certain species or require permits.
  • 35 states ban keeping big cats, with varying exemptions, requirements, and levels of enforcement.

Factors to Consider Before Buying Pet Insurance

Take into account the following to find affordable, comprehensive coverage:

  • Budget: You can expect financial relief from purchasing pet insurance. Don’t go into debt by committing to an expensive plan. Think about how much you’d have to pay out of pocket if your pet became sick without insurance. Compare that to the price of a policy. If you want to keep your costs down, go with a basic plan that doesn’t include a lot of extras.
  • Special terms and conditions: A provider’s website should include a sample policy. Read it thoroughly to learn about their coverage options, age restrictions, claim procedures, and more in the event of a prior condition.
  • Plan types and add-ons: Some companies simply offer accident coverage, while others focus on health and well-being. Carefully examine the various plans and possible riders to ensure you have the protection you need.
    • Your pet’s needs: Don’t waste your money if you don’t think your pet needs it. Find a service and a plan that work for your pet and have the options you want.

Exotic Pet Laws

Owning an exotic pet requires adhering to specific regulations and criteria. Before you go out and get a pet, make sure you check the websites of your state and local governments for any relevant legislation. However, in order to prevent the introduction of foreign pests and diseases into the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly controls the entry of exotic animals. The USDA recommends contacting your regional animal shelter for advice on how to properly care for your exotic pet.

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Worth It?: Bottom Line

Exotic pet insurance is unnecessary, but it could help you save money on emergency vet care. You can’t predict when your pet will suffer an injury, become ill, or accidentally ingest something and require emergency surgery that will set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you can afford unexpected vet bills without pet insurance coverage, then you may not need one.

If you would feel more at ease spending a little each month in order to save a lot of money in the event of an emergency, however, a pet health insurance plan may be an excellent solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Progressive cover exotic pets?

Usually not. You should look for insurance that focuses on unusual animals. Any animal other than a cat or dog falls under the umbrella term “exotic” when discussing pet insurance.

What is the oldest pet insurance policy?

Claes Virgin created the first pet insurance policy in Sweden in 1890. The original focus of Länsförsäkrings Alliance founder Henry Virgin was on equines and cattle.

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