What About Exotic Pet Insurance?

How do I evaluate insurance for my exotic pet?

As of now, only one pet insurance company in the US covers exotic pets. That company is Nationwide. (Nationwide Comparison Sheet for Exotic Pets and Birds.)

Unlike dog and cats, exotic pets tend to have recurring themes when it comes to their illnesses.

Many exotic pet illness are related to diet and/or environment. Their diseases can be predicted more easily than dogs and cats. Occasionally there will be unexpected ailments, but for the most part their diseases are more predictable.

So...when evaluating Nationwide for exotic pet insurance coverage, make sure they cover the most common diseases associated your exotic pet. Then make sure the monetary payout will help cover the costs associated with your geographical location.

Most common ailments:

ferrets Ferrets

  • Gastrointestinal Foreign Body
  • Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma
  • Splenomegly
  • Adrenal Disease
  • Insulinoma
  • Mast Cell Tumors
  • Ear Mites
  • Gastro-intestinal Diseases (ulcer, viral, bacterial, inflammatory)
  • Heart Disease
  • Teeth Issues
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Other Cancers
  • Rectal Prolapse
  • Vaccinations (canine distemper, rabies)

reptile Reptiles

  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Gastro-intestinal Parasites
  • Mouth Rot
  • Gastro-intestinal Foreign Body
  • Gastro-intestinal Diseases
  • Skin/shell Diseases (Burns, Mites/Ticks, infection, trauma)
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Cloacal Prolapse
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Kidney Disease
  • Abscess

rabbit Rabbits

  • GI Stasis/Obstruction/Ileus
  • Liver Disease
  • Teeth Issues (overgrown teeth, tooth root abscesses)
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Other Cancers
  • Skin Issues (trauma, parasites, infection, abscess)
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Eye Disorders
  • Ear Disorders
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Neurologic Disorders
  • Urinary Tract Infection/Obstruction/Stones/Crystals

guinea pig Guinea Pigs

  • Teeth issues
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Abscess
  • Cancer
  • GI Stasis/Obstruction/Ileus
  • Urinary Tract Infection/Obstruction/Stones/Crystals
  • Cystic Ovaries
  • Other Reproductive Diseases
  • Vitamin C Deficiency

rat Hamster/Gerbil/Rats

  • Enteritis/Wet Tail
  • Teeth Issues
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Cancer
  • Skin Issues (parasites, infection, etc)

bird Birds

  • Gastro-Intestinal Diseases
  • Egg Laying/Binding
  • Cloacal Prolapse
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Other Reproductive Disease
  • Heart/Circulatory Disease
  • Infectious Diseases (psittacosis, aspergillosis, polyoma, etc)
  • Broken Blood Feathers
  • Feather Picking
  • Other Feather/Skin Issues
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Beak Issues
  • Neurologic Disorders
  • Poisonings/Toxicities
  • Behavioral Issues

Nationwide does not cover:

  • Nationwide does not cover benign or malignant endocrine tumors, endocrine hyperplasias, and associated splenectomy in ferrets. Endocrine disorders in ferrets are very common. These include but are not limited to:
    • hyperplasia, adenoma, and adenocarcinoma of the adrenal cortex
    • insulinoma
    • prostatic hyperplasia
  • Nationwide does not include treatment for internal or external parasites of any exotic species
  • Congenital or hereditary conditions
  • Behavioral therapy or training
  • Unless you have a bird and purchase the Routine/Wellness add-on, elective or maintenance procedures are not covered.
  • Orthodontics, teeth cleaning, polishing, endodontics and removal of deciduous teeth.
  • Conditions related to breeding

Except for the exclusions listed above, at first glance, Nationwide appears to cover ailments common to exotic pets. However, I do not know how the underwriters will use the congenital and hereditary exclusion.

It will be up to you to decide whether or not the reimbursement is enough to cover the costs for your geographical location, and whether the exclusions are appropriate for your situation.

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