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What to Know About Exotic Pet Insurance

You have a snake, a parrot or some other exotic pet? An insurance policy can help you keep it healthy and happy.

Written by Dr. Jamie Whittenburg DVM / December 30, 2021

Quick Bites

  • Exotic pets like birds, turtles and rabbits may be more expensive to treat than dogs and cats.
  • Your hedgehog, turtle, rabbit and more can get insurance through Nationwide.
  • As with other pets, you’ll want to start a policy while they are healthy so there are no pre-existing conditions that will be excluded from coverage.
  • Exotic pets will likely benefit the most from a health insurance plan that covers major accidents and illnesses.

Most people think of pet insurance as something that’s for dogs and cats. But if you own a bird, reptile or other exotic animal, you’ll want to consider getting insurance for it. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, nearly 8 million Americans own at least one pet bird.[1] Exotic pets, such as birds, reptiles and pocket pets, often require specialized medical care and the veterinarians treating these animals are often specialists with advanced training. Just as in human health care, specialized doctors and more advanced equipment will likely cost more.

Insurance can help pay for diagnostics, treatment, surgery and many other costs associated with a pet’s illness or injury. 

Here’s what to know as you shop for a policy for your exotic pet. 

Inside this article

  1. How does it work?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. Which animals are covered?
  4. What expenses are covered?
  5. What’s excluded?

How does exotic pet insurance work?

Exotic pet health insurance functions like regular pet health insurance. Specific details of the plans differ based on a few factors, but in general, you pay a monthly premium, and the insurance company agrees to cover the cost of needed veterinary medical care. Typically you pay the veterinarian at the time of service, and the insurance company reimburses you an agreed-upon amount or percentage.

Some factors that affect the insurance premium for exotic pets include the type of pet being covered, the pet’s age and health status, and which plan you choose.

These plans will cover injuries and illnesses, as well as annual examinations, lab work, prescription medications, diagnostic testing and hospitalization. You want a plan in place in case an emergency comes up, so you can focus on the care of your pet rather than how you will pay for its treatment.

Tip: You should consider getting insurance when your pet is healthy, so there are no pre-existing conditions that will be excluded from coverage.

How much does it cost?

Currently, only Nationwide offers insurance for exotic pets.[2] You can get more information through its website and get a quote by calling 1-888-899-4874.

If your employer offers Pet Assure as a part of your work benefits, you can use it to get discounts on vet bills for your bird, monkey or even llama. 

Which animals are covered?

Exotic pet insurance generally includes coverage for:

  • Amphibians

  • Hedgehogs

  • Birds

  • Iguanas

  • Mice

  • Ferrets

  • Goats

  • Sugar gliders

  • Potbellied pigs

  • Chinchillas

  • Turtles

What expenses does exotic pet insurance cover?

Besides annual exams and wellness care, plans can cover diagnostics and treatment in the event of an illness or injury, laboratory fees and any required hospitalization. 

Exotic pets will likely benefit the most from a health insurance plan that covers major accidents and illnesses. The medical care costs for exotic pets in these urgent situations can be very high, especially when specialty veterinarians and hospitals, advanced diagnostics and hospitalization are required.

What’s excluded?

Exotic pet insurance will typically not cover any pre-existing conditions the pet has prior to the purchase of the plan. This means if your exotic pet is already suffering from an illness or injury, the policy you purchase will likely not cover any future medical costs related to that illness or injury.

Other pet care costs that are not typically covered by exotic pet health insurance include:

  • Food

  • Habitat supplies

  • Grooming, bathing or nail and beak care

  • Boarding fees

There may be some exceptions to these exclusions, especially in the event that the care is recommended by a veterinarian, or the needed item is a prescription.

Tip: Always verify which services and items are covered prior to purchasing an exotic pet insurance plan.

For more on pet insurance, see our stories on how pet insurance works, whether it’s worth getting, what happens if your pet has a pre-existing condition and more.


For more on pet insurance, see our stories on how pet insurance works, whether it's worth getting, what happens if your pet has a pre-existing condition, and more.

Article Sources
  1. American Veterinary Medical Association. “US Pet Ownership Statistics.” https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/reports-statistics/us-pet-ownership-statistics.
  2. Nationwide Pet insurance. “Avian and Exotic Pet Plan.” https://www.petinsurance.com/birds.

About the Author

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg DVM

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg DVM

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a veterinarian with over 15 years experience. She works with cats, dogs, and small exotic pets.

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