Best Insurance for Your Exotic Pet

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: May 31, 2022
© Chernetska
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The best insurance for your exotic pet covers nearly everything you can think of! Accidents happen. Illnesses do too. When you need to get your exotic pet to the vet, having an insurance company that covers diagnostic tests and treatments allows you to breathe a huge sigh of relief. When pets are not feeling well, it’s hard to think clearly, let alone consider massive vet bills. An exotic pet insurance policy empowers you to act quickly when your exotic pet needs health care. Plus, you can even explore holistic and alternative therapies to support your pet’s health and aid with recovery following an injury or illness. Below, we explain what exotic pet insurance is, what it covers, and where you can purchase a policy.

What Is Exotic Pet Insurance?

Exotic pet insurance is comparable to pet insurance you can usually obtain for dogs or cats, except it’s designed specifically for exotic animals. If your exotic animal has any accidents or develops an illness, exotic pet insurance covers diagnostic exams, lab fees, procedures, and treatments. This could include hospitalization and surgery.

There are many different types of animals that fall under the category of exotic pets. For example, small fur babies like guinea pigs, rats, and hamsters are considered exotic animals as well as reptiles like snakes, lizards, and turtles. Most pet insurance companies focus on dogs and cats, as these are the most common pets.

However, if you have an exotic pet and are looking for a pet insurance policy that offers coverage, you do have some options. Currently, there is one pet insurance company in the United States that offers exotic pet insurance. Your other option is to enroll in a veterinary discount program that helps you get more affordable veterinary care for your special pet.

Grey and white dumbo rat with a stuffed rat doll in a dress
Rats, hamsters, gerbils, and other rodents are classified as exotic pets.

© Ilina

Why You Need Exotic Pet Insurance

When an animal comes under your care, whether it’s a dog, cat, or exotic pet, they count on you to keep them in good health. Once you’ve brought a new lovebug into your family, you’re responsible for feeding, cleaning, and of course, veterinary care. Some animals may be more prone to illnesses than others but no matter what, veterinary care is a standard part of any pet’s life. With regular vet checkups, you stay on top of your exotic animal’s health, can keep up with any required vaccinations, and can obtain any diagnostic test if you notice that your exotic pet has developed unusual symptoms related to an illness.

With exotic pet insurance, you put yourself in a better position to ensure your pet gets optimal care. Especially with exotic animals, the timelines are short between when you discover an issue and when you get care. For example, if you have an exotic bird at home, you know that birds are very susceptible to parasites. Animals like dogs and cats could handle parasites for a longer period but if a bird gets infected, treatment must begin immediately. If this were to happen to your pet, you would be able to easily rush to the vet, get the proper care, and not have to worry about spending exorbitant amounts on veterinary bills.

Some exotic pets are easier to care for than others. If you have a reptile, you know how sensitive they are to the temperature in their environment. If it gets too chilly for them, they can easily become ill. On the other hand, when temperatures are too hot, some exotic pets may become ill and require veterinary care. Aside from insuring your pet in the case of illnesses, exotic pet insurance can also cover accidents.

No matter how careful you are, no pet is immune to accidents. Whether it’s ingesting a foreign object or an accidental fall, in these cases, your exotic animal may require emergency care, including hospitalization and surgery, along with follow-up care. Vet costs are unpredictable and sometimes when you receive the invoice, you may hesitate to pay. Whether it’s because you don’t have the funds or you’re concerned about your next rent or mortgage payment, with pet insurance for your exotic pet, you can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to choose between the next meal on your table or your exotic pet’s best care.

Bearded dragon being examined by a veterinarian
Lizards, such as this bearded dragon, can become ill if their environment is too cold.


What Coverages Are Available for Exotic Pets?

Exotic pet insurance policies are similar to regular dog and cat pet insurance. These policies cover both minor and major illnesses, including chronic conditions. Accidents and injuries are also covered. Hereditary conditions are included as well as testing and diagnostics. Holistic and alternative care (so long as the veterinarian is licensed) round out a comprehensive exotic pet insurance policy.

Although a comprehensive exotic pet insurance policy covers everything from accidents to holistic and alternative care, there are some exclusions. This might depend on the state you live in and also depends on your pet’s complete medical history. Pre-existing conditions are not covered under exotic pet insurance policies. Be sure to inquire about the specifics relating to your situation to ensure that you understand what your policy does and does not cover.

The process of obtaining exotic pet insurance is simple. You can request a free, no-obligation quote to get started. Once you’ve enrolled and your policy has taken effect, you can visit any licensed veterinarian, anywhere. Then, you can go ahead and send over your claim and receive reimbursement for all eligible expenses once you’ve met your annual deductible.

Best Insurance for Your Exotic Pet

Although there are not a ton of options when it comes to obtaining exotic pet insurance, you do have two primary exotic pet insurances. One is based out of the United States while the other is based out of the United Kingdom. There’s also a third plan you may want to consider that doesn’t operate like an insurance company but that offers veterinary discounts to help lessen your veterinary bills. This is more of a supplemental policy that can round out your coverage.

A black-masked lovebird flying against a white background
Birds, another category of exotic pets, are susceptible to parasites.


Nationwide Pet Insurance

Nationwide is an insurance company that offers pet insurance whether your little one has two legs or four! They’ve designed an exotic pet policy because every single one of your family members, furry or otherwise, deserves high-quality healthcare. With a policy from Nationwide, you can use any vet in any state within the United States, even if those vets are specialists or emergency providers.

Currently, Nationwide is offering new members a 5% discount on a new policy. You can insure birds and exotic pets and obtain coverage for the following:

  • Accidents & injuries
  • Common illnesses
  • Serious illnesses
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Testing & diagnostics
  • Holistic & alternative

Exotic Direct

Exotic Direct is based out of the United Kingdom and offers pet insurance for birds, mammals, and reptiles. Whether you have a lizard, small bird, snake, or exotic mammal, you can choose Exotic Direct for their award-winning customer service, their straightforward approach to claim reimbursement, and their decades of experience.

The type of policy your pet is eligible for depends on the type of pet you have. Additionally, there is a tiered system ranging from Basic to Essential to Premier that also determines what type of policy you get. For example, a Basic policy to insure a snake covers weather perils, theft, and death, and you can add up to three pets per policy. However, with the Basic tier, vet fees are not included. They are, however, included up to £1,000 for the Essential and Premier tiers.

Pet Assure

Pet Assure works a little differently. This is a veterinary discount program that does not discriminate against any animal type. They also don’t consider pre-existing conditions. It’s more of a pet insurance alternative or a supplemental option because discounts include anything from dental cleanings to emergency care and even wellness visits.

For example, a routine wellness exam may cost on average $45 but with Pet Assure, you save $11.50. A greater expense for cruciate ligament repair on average costs $825 but with Pet Assure, you would save $206.25. There are no exclusions, and every medical procedure is covered. They never deny any claims and you don’t have to worry about deductibles either. As soon as you sign up, you can use it immediately without any waiting period.

The only downside to Pet Assure is that it’s currently only available as an employee benefit through employers. You can check the directory on the Pet Assure website and if you see that your employer’s name is not listed, you can then invite your employer to offer these pet benefits so you can enroll.

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Group of domestic pets on white background animals
Few insurance companies offer coverage for exotic pets.
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About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Does Petplan cover exotic pets?

In the US, Petplan does not cover exotic pets. However, if you’re in the UK, you can search for a policy via Petplan’s Exotic Direct. Exotic Direct offers pet insurance for birds, mammals, and reptiles. For exotic animal insurance in the US, your only option is Nationwide for comprehensive coverage and Pet Assure for obtaining veterinary discounts.

What is the best exotic animal to have as a pet?

If you’re considering a low-maintenance exotic pet that fills your home with a sweet presence and a gentle joy only animals can deliver, then you should consider a hedgehog as an exotic pet. These animals are super easy to care for—all they require is a large enough enclosure where they can exercise and play. You may also be interested in rodents—while rats and mice are the most popular, you could explore other options like flying squirrels and chipmunks!

Is pet insurance more expensive for pure breeds?

Yes, pure breeds are more susceptible to developing genetic conditions, which is why insuring them may be costlier than insuring a mixed breed dog or cat. Mixed breeds are not as prone as pure breeds to the development of some of these genetic health issues.

Can you insure a snake?

Yes, Nationwide Pet Insurance does offer a pet insurance policy for snakes. Additionally, Pet Assure is a veterinary discount plan you can incorporate alongside the Nationwide pet policy to help lower cost of different veterinary services. Exotic animals are difficult to insure, so you don’t have a lot of options in the pet insurance market. However, with these two complementary services, you can rest easy knowing your snake can get quality care without you having to pay a fortune.

What counts as an exotic pet?

“Exotic” is an umbrella term for a wide variety of animals. From rodents to birds and amphibians, exotic pets cover a lot of different, unusual animals that can be kept as pets. Some of the most common include rats, chinchillas, and gerbils. Reptiles like lizards and snakes are also considered exotic. Even spiders are considered exotic pets!

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