When we’re talking about pet insurance, most, if not all of the time, we refer to pet insurance for cats and dogs. However, there are dozens of other types of pets being kept as family companions all across the nation.
These not-so-exposed animals are classified as exotic pets, pet birds (avians), and horses (equines). Most often than not, when it comes to pet insurance, they all fall under the exotic pets category with the exception of horses.
Even though most insurance companies are no fans of providing coverage policies for exotic pets, that doesn’t mean these adorable creatures are less common, less loved, or less needy than the overly popularized canines and felines.
These unusual companions are affected by a host of medical conditions that most often require immediate attention, hence the necessity to treat them grows bigger by the day.
That being said, we understand there’s a pretty big chance you’re an exotic pet owner looking for ways to provide medical coverage for your pets. That’s why we penned this article in which you can learn where to find the exotic pet insurance options that are most suitable for you.
Ownership and Veterinary Costs for Exotic Pets
Birds, fish, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals, all comprise the exotic pet kingdom. There are thousands of different breeds and subcategories of these animals dwelling in homes across the country, and they can all cost from very cheap to ultra-expensive.
Here, we’ll overview the costs required to own the top types of exotic pets and how much of your budget you need to dedicate to treating their most common health conditions.
Birds’ price is affected by their rarity and size. They can go from as little as $10 for finches and canaries to about $1,000 for African greys and Amazon parrots. And if you’ve laid your eyes upon some extravagant cockatoo or a macaw, don’t get too excited because they can easily exceed the $5,000 price point.
When you’ve made the decision about who’s going to be your feathery friend for the next couple of decades or so, it’s time to think about their living space. Prepare to spend about $300-$1,200 to build and maintain their habitat (birdcage, feeding and cleaning equipment, toys, and supplies) and an additional $5-$30/month for bird food.
When it comes to threats to their wellbeing, birds are often prone to injuries resulting from flight or attack by other birds or pets, and illness arising from parasite infestation, or viral and bacterial infections.
The average costs for the top health conditions for birds range from $40-$240 (internal parasites, arthritis, dehydration) to $250-$400 (feather loss, liver disease, respiratory infection).
Read our full Bird Insurance review.
Surprisingly, fish are the most numerous pets in the US. That’s mainly because they’re the most affordable pet type and arguably the easiest to care for. Prices can range from $2-$30 for small goldfish, bettas, or tetras, and go up to $200-$300 for angelfish and tang.
Some rare fish specimens like plecos, stingrays, and the arowana fish are always hot in demand and usually come with a price tag of a few thousand dollars.
To build a decent aquarium, you’d spend about $200 for the main set-up accompanied by pumps, heaters, and decorations, unless you plan to bring the whole seaworld inside your home. Large fish tanks can cost up to $5,000.
Food, on the other hand, is relatively cheap and costs about $8-$12/month per fish.
Stress, inadequate food quality, and bad water conditions are the top reasons for poor fish health. They can get very sick because of a compromised immune system and usually show no symptoms until it’s already too late. Those living in communities can often attack and injure each other.
Veterinary treatment for the most common fish health conditions (velvet, nitrate, or ammonia poisoning, fish rot, columnaris, etc.) costs about $50-$100 for in-house procedures. You can also ask the vet clinic’s staff for an at-home appointment which usually costs about $200-$300.
Read our full Fish Insurance review.
These popular exotic pets are one of children’s favorite amusements. Rabbits can either be bought from pet shops or rescued from shelter services. The price for a store bunny can range from $10 to $40, but you can pay cheaper if you adopt ($5-$25). Some rabbits that are rescued can be already spayed/neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated, hence they have a fee ranging from $50 to $70. Rare rabbit breeds are usually sold for about $200.
You can build your own rabbit hutch and save money or buy it for $150-$200. A cheaper alternative is a rabbit cage which can go from $40 to $100. Food, consisting of hay, vegetables, and pallets, shouldn’t cost you more than $20-$30/month.
When it comes to veterinary costs, routine care is essential for bunnies. You should regularly take your rabbit for a veterinary check-up once a year. That can cost about $50-$80 on average. It’s also recommended to spay/neuter your rabbit to prevent health/behavioral issues. This procedure can cost from $120 to $200.
Vaccinations, which are essential, can range from $40 to $100, and treating emergencies such as stasis, acute dilation, and urinary tract infection will result in vet bills of around $200-$300.
Read our full Rabbit Insurance review.
Reptiles and Rodents
If they used to be a real rarity only 20 years ago, rodents and reptiles are quite a common sight in American households nowadays. Gerbils and geckos, turtles and snakes, hamsters and guinea pigs – we all have at least one friend or relative that treats them as a family member.
So, if you’re planning to become one of those exotic pet owners, here’s how much it will cost you to purchase a reptile or a rodent:
- Snakes – $20-$1,000+;
- Geckos – $20-$150;
- Turtles – $20-$200;
- Tortoises – $60-$1,000+
- Bearded dragons – $40-$120.
- Mice and rats – $7-$25;
- Gerbils – $15;
- Hamster – $20-$50;
- Guinea pigs – $50-$80;
- Chinchilas – $130-$200.
Constructing a hospitable living environment for these pets can cost you from $200 to $300.
Just like any other animal, both rodents and reptiles are susceptible to a plethora of health problems. Their most common enemies are internal parasites, cancers, bacterial infections, diarrhea and constipation, low mineral blood levels, respiratory infections, etc.
Whenever you must visit the vet clinic, an examination and diagnostics for a reptile or rodent can cost you from $50 to $100. If they need to undergo an emergency procedure, anesthesia and surgery might span from $150 to $400. Medications for these pet types cost about $200 on average.
Insurance Options for Exotic Pets
Even though insurance options for exotic pets are scarce in the US, we spent a lot of time digging deep and managed to discover ways so you can protect your friend without hurting your budget.
To be fair, we noticed that there’s only one American company that offers exotic pet insurance, which is why below, we cover insurance alternatives that can keep your companions happy and safe.
The Avian & Exotic Pet Insurance plan by Nationwide is the only insurance coverage available to exotic pets in the US. They cover almost all exotic pet types; even animals that aren’t included on their online lists. But, if you’re uncertain about your particular breed, give them a call to find out if they’d let your pet slide and get a custom quote.
Here’s what’s particular about Nationwide’s exotic pet insurance policies:
- 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 diagnostics;
- A maximum payout of $2,000 per incident;
- A maximum payout of $7,000 per year;
- No lifetime payout limit;
- 14 days waiting periods for both accidents and illnesses;
- Health coverage for any vet clinic in the world.
Nationwide offers routine care coverage for birds that’s meant as a wellness plan to assist your birds’ wellbeing. It’s only available as an add-on to the main accidents and illnesses coverage plan.
It’s important to mention that any of the following species are not allowed to enroll for a Nationwide exotic pet insurance policy:
- Any species that are venomous or poisonous;
- Any species that are in danger of extinction;
- Any species that you can’t own legally;
- 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 are a result of breeding wild species with domestic pets.
What Does a Nationwide Policy Cover?
You’ll get successfully reimbursed on your vet bills for the following procedures with Nationwide:
- Laboratory examinations and test;
- Prescribed medicines;
- Medical treatments for accidents and injuries;
- Successfully cured pre-existing conditions.
The wellness plan for birds by Nationwide will cover most preventive treatments, tests, and essential grooming for your pet bird.
What Doesn’t a Nationwide Policy Cover?
The following isn’t taken care of by the Avian & Exotic Pet Insurance plan:
- Pre-existing conditions;
- Hereditary conditions
- Congenital conditions;
- Reproduction and pregnancies;
- Pet food;
- Transport and boarding.
Read our full Nationwide Pet Insurance review.
Alternatives for Exotic Pet Insurance
The following options are alternatives to exotic pet insurance and shouldn’t be considered genuine substitutes. They offer healthcare coverage in the form of credit payments or service discounts on all medical procedures for your exotic pet.
Pet Assure has been making pet care affordable since 1995. It’s available at about 5,600 locations in all 50 US states, along with Canada and Puerto Rico.
With Pet Assure, you pay a low monthly admission to get a 25% discount at a veterinary clinic that offers the program.
Regarding exotic pets, Pet Assure provides coverage for all exotic types of animals and even extends it to horses and ponies, animals only covered by equine insurance companies.
Pet Assure doesn’t work like standard insurance companies. They impose no deductibles, waiting periods, age restrictions, and payout limits.
What we really love about Pet Assure is their attitude toward pre-existing conditions. They simply don’t care about the previous health state of your pet and will admit it with any pre-existing, hereditary, and congenital conditions.
If you’re not satisfied with Pet Assure’s service, you can get your money back within 45 days of signing up with them.
Grooming, boarding, and medications and food you take home with you are the only exceptions where Pet Assure’s discount doesn’t apply.
If you’re happy with having no insurance coverage for your exotic pet and paying the vet bill in full, then the Wells Fargo Health Advantage program might be quite beneficial to you.
Many pet owners hesitate whether to take their sick pet to the vet, being afraid of a hefty vet bill. Wells Fargo Health Advantage can significantly help with settling down your worries by offering a credit card that you can use to pay for your own and your pet’s medical bills.
That way, you can always stay ahead of your exotic fellow’s needs. Additionally, just like Pet Assure, Wells Fargo Health Advantage doesn’t apply any restrictions as well. They have no paying limits nor waiting periods and deductibles.
Besides paying for the most common injuries and illnesses, with the Wells Fargo Health Advantage credit card you can cover any pre-existing, congenital, and hereditary conditions too.
What’s more, with this credit card you can pay what you owe over time, in several convenient installments. They boast competitive interest rates and online management tools that enable you to easily access your account, so you immediately review your bills and make quick payments.
Unfortunately, you have to call Wells Fargo Health Advantage to discover where they are available, as that information isn’t available online.
Similar to Wells Fargo Health Advantage, the CareCredit Veterinary Financing is another veterinary credit program that is largely available (over 225,000 health centers and clinics across the US).
Again, hereditary and pre-existing conditions are included when you visit your preferred veterinary physician, whenever you need assistance for an accident, illness, wellness, or preventive care issue.
Coverage is immediately applicable with no limitations on age, gender, size, and pet breed.
Coming with amazing financing options, the CareCredit card can be used to pay for your vet bill in full – an amount you can conveniently pay back with some minor interest added.
Exotic Pet Insurance Pricing Plans
Let’s overview how much you’ll need to pay if you decide to sign up with any of the above-mentioned providers.
Nationwide will insure your exotic buddy for an affordable monthly premium that depends largely on the animal’s size and breed. They have four different groups tailored for specific avian and exotic breeds. Here’s how much they’re priced:
- Group 1 – $6.65/month for a small animal: hamster, lizard, rat, mouse, amphibian, gecko, hedgehog, guinea pig, gerbil, chameleon, or small bird (weighing less than 50 grams);
- Group 2 – $9.50/month for a medium-sized animal: chinchilla, opossum, sugar glider, iguana, turtle, tortoise, rabbit, ferret, snake (small, medium, and large), or medium-sized bird (weighing between 50 and 300 grams);
- Group 3 – $12.35/month for a large animal: large bird (weighing from 300 grams to 10 kilograms);
- Group 4 – $15.69/month for an extra-large animal: pot-bellied pig, goat, extra-large snake (anaconda, python, boa constrictor), or extra-large bird (weighing more than 10 kilograms).
Note: If you don’t see your pet listed in the groups above, contact Nationwide to see if they might provide custom coverage for it.
We mentioned that Nationwide offers wellness coverage for birds on their Avian Supplemental & Routine Care Coverage for $99 on an annual policy term.
Nationwide grants up to 15% off on your monthly premiums if you add more exotic pets to your policy.
Just like Nationwide, Pet Assure divides animals into two groups to build four different plans to offer their discounted services:
- Single Cat – $9.95/month ($78.96/year) for a small animal: bird, rabbit, turtle, rodent, reptile, ferret, sugar glider, guinea pig, or skunk;
- Single Dog – $11.95/month ($99/year) for a large animal: pot-bellied pig, llama, farm animal, or horse;
- Family – $16.95/month ($149/year) for 2-4 animals of any size;
- Unlimited – $21.95/month ($199/year) for every pet in your household.
Wells Fargo Health Advantage and CareCredit
These two credit programs cost $0 to enroll with and have no monthly fees. However, you’re obligated to pay back the whole amount that you spend for an in-house veterinary service with some added interest.
Does My Pet Need Exotic Pet Insurance Coverage?
A friend, even a cold-blooded one, is always worth being properly looked after. Putting yourself in a position where you have to decide whether to help them or take a hit to your bank account balance is not a fair situation for both parties.
The exotic pet insurance option that we reviewed above and its alternative companions are much more affordable than regular pet insurance plans, so you can see this as a real opportunity to get the best for your pet.
Having insurance will cover you in the cases of death, theft, or escape of an animal too. And while they’re there, being prepared to save your best friend’s life at any moment is certainly better than leaving them to their fate.
While acquiring exotic pet insurance might not be your priority right now, it could make all the difference to your special creature.
We know that options in this area are quite limited, but having little to choose from is no excuse to avoid being a responsible pet parent.
Nevertheless, we hope you feel more educated on the subject now and at least know where to turn to whenever the topic of pet insurance pops up.
Will my exotic pet get insurance coverage at every veterinary clinic in the country?
If you sign up with Nationwide, your exotic pet will be covered at every veterinary clinic in the world. However, Pet Assure, Wells Fargo Health Advantage, and CareCredit are available only at selected locations.
What’s the best exotic pet insurance provider out there?
There’s no best or worst when you’re the only candidate. Although Nationwide is the pet insurer for exotic animals, if we compare it to Pet Assure, we’d come to a realization that variety is still possible. Whether it’s better or worse than Pet Assure, it all depends on your pet’s needs and your budget to decide.
What information will the insurance company need to sign me up?
Nationwide would ask for your exotic pet’s details such as age, gender, species, breed, and size. They will specifically be interested in your pet’s medical history and search for any existing health conditions it may have to know what to exclude from your coverage. Pet Assure only needs the species of your exotic pet to know which plan will be right for you.