All pets are important family members, and whether you own a bird, a snake, a mouse, or another exotic animal, you want to give your pet the love and care they deserve. For many, a pet is a best friend and source of unconditional love, with many pet owners treating them as they would their children.
That’s what makes it so difficult on pet owners when a pet is suffering from illness, injury, or even age, which can be especially hard on people unable to afford the unexpected cost of veterinary care.
The good news, though, is that exotic pet insurance and pet insurance for birds is available and can help to reduce out-of-pocket costs when illness or injury occurs.
The Best Pet Insurance Plans For Exotic Animals
The best way to ensure that you’ll always have uninterrupted access to quality health care for your pet is by purchasing a comprehensive exotic pet insurance policy that covers injury, illness, and additional cost–such as exam fees and diagnostic care.
The best pet insurance plans include ample coverage for your animal, ideally accompanied by a simplified claims process, exemplary customer service, and an affordable rate.
As many exotic pet and bird owners already realize, pet insurance for animals other than dogs and cats can be difficult to find. The good news, though, is that the pet insurance market is continually expanding, particularly as more consumers add unconventional pets to their homes, and there are several options available to animal lovers who want access to quality veterinary care for their bird or exotic pet.
When choosing an insurance policy for your bird or exotic pet, it’s essential to research both the plans themselves thoroughly and the companies offering them. In addition to ensuring that you’ll be sufficiently covered in your time of need, you want to be confident that the policy you’re receiving is offering an affordable rate and that the company you’re considering is reputable and has an easy-to-understand, simple, and efficient claims process.
Best Companies For Bird & Exotic Pet Insurance Plans
1. Nationwide Pet Insurance
Nationwide is one of the largest pet insurance providers in the industry and one of the few to include birds and exotic pets in its coverage options.
The company covers most birds, as well as the following exotic animals:
- Guinea pigs
- Potbellied pigs
- Sugar gliders
The company’s plans are available for animals aged between six weeks and 10 years old. Rates for bird and exotic pet insurance aren’t available on the site’s online quote calculator. However, customers have the option of calling Nationwide’s toll-free number to receive a quote over the phone.
Nationwide’s bird and exotic pet insurance is comprehensive and covers a broad range of accidental injuries and illnesses, as well as examination fees, diagnostic testing such as x-rays and lab tests, and hospitalization.
Customers can purchase additional wellness coverage as a supplement to their policy to receive coverage for routine expenses and preventative care such as check-ups and vaccinations. Just as all other pet insurance providers, Nationwide excludes taxes, waste, grooming, boarding, and pre-existing conditions from its plans.
Reimbursement rates depend on the plan the customer chooses. Nationwide’s most comprehensive plan reimburses 90 percent of veterinary expenses, while other plans provide reimbursement based on specific amounts paid out per condition or treatment.
The company doesn’t offer direct billing but does provide its customers with a convenient claims process. Claims can be submitted by mail, email, fax, mobile app, or via the company’s online portal.
Nationwide is Better Business Bureau-accredited (BBB) with an A+ rating. The company has had 296 complaints filed against it over the past three years, which is fairly average for a company of its size.
Most of these complaints are regarding the company’s home, auto, and life insurance policies, and the few complaints that pertain to pet insurance involve claims denials.
2. PetAssure Discount Plans
PetAssure isn’t an exotic pet insurance plan per se, but rather a veterinary discount plan. Subscribers have only to show their discount card at any participating veterinary office to receive 25 percent off on their pet’s medical services.
The company offers an online rate calculator which provides accurate quotes based on how many pets are in the household, the type of pets included in the plan, and their geographic location.
PetAssure plans are available for pets of any breed, age, and condition. Unlike traditional pet insurance, the PetAssure discount plan covers preexisting conditions, which makes it an excellent choice for families looking to save money on health care for an ailing pet. PetAssure can also be combined with pet insurance plans, making it an additional option to help reduce costs even more.
Since PetAssure is a discount plan and not traditional insurance, there are no deductibles, coverage caps, or reimbursement rates written into the plan.
Customers can use their discount on any service they receive from their veterinarian, including:
- Routine check-ups
- Exam fees
- Dental check-ups
- Emergency care
- Dental Cleanings
- Dental exams and x-rays
- Allergy treatment
- Cancer treatment
- Tumor removal
- Diabetes treatment and management
- Spay and neuter procedures
- IV fluids
- Prescription medication
The only exclusions from PetAssure’s plans are grooming boarding, and outsourced services, such as blood work sent to an offsite laboratory for testing.
PetAssure is BBB-accredited, with an A+ rating. The company has only one complaint against it in the last three years, regarding an approved veterinary office not honoring the discount card. The complaint was responded to and corrected by PetAssure, and closed by the BBB.
3. Wells Fargo Healthy Advantage
Wells Fargo’s Healthy Advantage program is another alternative to exotic pet insurance that helps pet owners access quality veterinary care for their animals when they can’t or won’t pay the full expense of treatments out of pocket.
The program is essentially a line of credit that can be used toward the cost of care in participating veterinary offices across the U.S.
Although the full cost plus interest must be paid back to Wells Fargo, the Healthy Advantage program gives customers the chance to access the care they need, when they need it, while making small monthly payments over the loan term as opposed to paying the full cost immediately, possibly from dipping into savings or funds destined for other purposes.
Wells Fargo’s interest rates are low, and the program can be used to access any services provided by their veterinarian, including routine and wellness care, spay and neuter procedures, and treatment for pre-existing conditions.
This is a significant benefit to the Healthy Advantage program, as traditional pet insurance doesn’t typically cover wellness and preventative care, and never covers treatment for pre-existing conditions.
The BBB doesn’t have Healthy Advantage listed as an individual entity. Wells Fargo as a whole has a profile through the company’s BBB rating has been temporarily revoked while the company responds to several government actions filed against it with issues non-related to the Healthy Advantage program.
Wells Fargo has received more than 3,000 complaints over the past three years, and the company has been involved in several high-profile legal actions, due to fraudulent banking practices.
The most recent complaints on the BBB don’t have their details listed but appear to involve product complaints and billing issues. It’s unclear whether these complaints are about Wells Fargo banking, credit cards, or Healthy Advantage.
Common Claims Filed for Bird Accidents & Illnesses
Birds are generally susceptible to a different range of illnesses and disorders than dogs, cats, and other animals.
Hereditary illnesses aren’t common in birds the way they are in dogs, and because birds are prey animals, they inherently hide any pain or weakness they may be feeling in order to protect themselves from predators.
Like all other animals, birds can fall victim to irritating and potentially harmful parasites including fleas, ticks, worms, and lice.
Other common illnesses and injuries among parrots, parakeets, and other birds include:
- Pacheco’s Disease
- Bacterial Infections
- Broken or injured wings
- Cat or dog attack
As mentioned above, it’s not uncommon for birds to hide any signs of illness or infection they may be feeling so it can be difficult to determine if your bird is not feeling well.
There are several important signs to watch for that may indicate your bird is in need of a visit to your veterinary office including:
- Abnormal stance such as trembling, walking in circles, picking at feathers, or huddled posture
- Weight loss
- Droopy wings
- Vocal changes
- Head twitching
- Swollen or flaky beak
- Excessive molting
- Ruffled or dull feathers
- Plucking feathers
- Swollen feet or joints
- Open beak breathing
- Tail bobbing when breathing
- Increase or decrease in eating or drinking
- Straining to have a bowel moment
It’s always a good idea to monitor your bird daily and watch for the signs above or any other symptoms that may seem unusual or out of character for your bird.
Whenever you see sudden changes in behavior or health, it’s wise to seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian, and of course, a good pet insurance policy can help keep costs low when unexpected illness or injury occurs.
Common Claims Filed for Exotic Animal Accidents & Illnesses
Establishing a full list of exotic animals one may keep as a pet is a considerable undertaking, and it’s difficult to provide an exact list of common illnesses or injuries that may occur in any exotic pet.
However, some conditions are frequently associated with certain exotic animals, including:
- Skin Disorders (reptiles and amphibians)
- Lice, Ticks, and Fleas (mammals and rodents)
- Shell Disorders (turtles)
- Accidental injuries from being stepped or sat on
- Cat or Dog Attacks
When you’ve chosen an exotic animal as your pet, it’s incredibly important that you do your research before purchasing your new animal, especially since they may be subject to a host of unfamiliar conditions.
It’s best to make sure that you fully understand any illnesses or health conditions your pet may be susceptible to and know the signs and symptoms to watch for when your pet may be ill.
Just as with birds or any other animals, it’s important to note if there are sudden changes in your pet’s behavior or health condition, and to seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect something may be wrong.
After reading the details above, you should have a good idea of which options are available to you when it comes to providing the best possible care for your pet.
Although the options are limited when it comes to exotic pet insurance and pet insurance for birds, it is possible to purchase comprehensive insurance coverage or discounted veterinary care for your animal, no matter their breed or species.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.