Nobody likes an unwelcome extra cost, but vets' bills have risen hugely over the years, so opting to go without pet insurance can turn out to be even more expensive if anything goes wrong.
Why bother with exotic pet insurance?
Pet insurance can help by paying expensive vet bills as well as other costs such as those that come with:
Replacement or recovery if you lose your pet, it escapes, or it is stolen
The death of your pet
Third party liability claims. This includes damage to other people or their property and animals, so is especially likely to apply to more unusual pets, especially those that can be dangerous to anyone who doesn't know how to approach them properly
You might also require specialist knowledge and veterinary treatment for your exotic pet, which won't come cheap if you pay for it yourself. You might also be more vulnerable to theft, as a rare pet can often be worth a lot.
Policies for exotic pets are harder to find as there aren't as many companies that will offer bird, fish or reptile pet insurance. Nonetheless, it's still worth comparing what is out there to make sure you don't end up overpaying.
How much will exotic pet insurance cost?
The type of animal you have will affect how much you pay, as will where you live; cities tend to cost more, as do places where vet bills are higher.
It might feel like you simply need to look for the policy with the cheapest premiums, but these can often have exclusions that mean they won't pay out when you need them the most. Understanding what you do and don't need will help you pick insurance that meets your requirements.
What to look for
The excess on an insurance policy is the amount you'll need to pay towards the cost of a claim. With an excess of £50 and a vet's bill of £500, you would pay £50 towards it, and your insurer would pay £450. A policy with a higher excess might have lower premiums, which will keep your costs down if your pet is in good health and you don't think you'll need to claim too frequently.
Some policies will let you choose an excess where you pay a percentage of each claim. Again, this can reduce the premiums you'll pay, but can be expensive if you need to claim.
With some exotic pets, you won't just want one, you'll have several instead; some are even held in collections, like koi carp. A collective policy lets you insure several pets in one go. This can often be cheaper than insuring them separately, but generally limits you to animals of the same species per policy.
Most policies specify maximum amounts they'll pay out for particular claims. There will usually be an annual limit on how much they'll pay towards vet bills or even for particular conditions, plus an agreed amount they would pay if your pet died, was lost or was stolen. This is especially worth noting if your pet would be expensive to replace.
Any other restrictions
Other factors that will affect how much you pay include your pet's species, breed and current health.
Your pet's age will also make a difference - most policies won't cover pets during the first few weeks of their lives, nor their very last years, based on how long a particular species might live on average. However, if you have a policy in place before your pet reaches that age, you should be able to let it continue, and some insurers don't set an upper age limit at all.
Levels of cover to insure exotic pets
Most policies will provide cover that comes under the following three categories:
These are the cheapest option, covering illness during the course of the policy (usually a year) but not beyond when it ends. If your pet develops a condition during the term, the policy will stop paying out at its end. After that, the condition will be considered "pre-existing" - this makes it harder to get further cover for it later on.
Capped cover policies
These policies will let you insure your pet for a year with the amount of cover allowed capped - a maximum amount will be specified for each condition. Once it has paid out that amount, you will have to cover any further costs yourself, although you could still claim to help pay for treatment for other conditions.
As the most comprehensive insurance, lifetime cover is also the most expensive. It covers your pet against illness for its whole life, including any long-term conditions, for as long as you continue to pay your premiums. A maximum amount will most likely be specified, restricting the total amount the policy can pay out per year.
Compare exotic pets insurance
The best way to make sure you get a competitive deal is to compare the various options being offered. You'll need to narrow it down to only the insurers that will take on the type of pet you have. Do this with our exotic pet insurance UK comparison and then check out what level of cover is offered, making sure you choose the one that suits your finances and your pet best. Then you can pick the cheapest of the suitable options.
The wrong policy could leave you with a choice between getting into debt and not being able to get the treatment your pet could end up needing. Picking insurance based on its suitability rather than just picking the first cheap one you find will give you the peace of mind that you'll be able to afford the care your pet needs.