What is Pet Insurance?: Step-by-step Guide on Insuring Your Pet

Pets are part of our families, and just like any family member, we want to ensure they’re taken care of, especially when it comes to their health. This article will explore the ins and outs of pet insurance for those who own more unusual pets, such as parrots, ferrets, potbellied pigs, or even horses.


While most American households have either a cat or a dog, millions of people are proud owners of more unusual pets. Whether it’s a parrot, ferret, potbellied pig, or horse, every pet owner wants the best for their animal companions. But, what happens when they fall ill or have an accident? The answer may lie in pet insurance.

Understanding Pet Insurance

Just like insurance for humans, pet insurance is designed to cover the cost of medical expenses for your pet. However, the options for pets that aren’t cats or dogs are somewhat limited. Let’s delve deeper into the world of pet insurance for these unique pets.

Types of Pets

For insurance purposes, pets that aren’t dogs or cats are usually classified into three categories:

  1. Avians (birds)
  2. Exotics (ferrets, potbellied pigs, etc)
  3. Equines (horses)

Each of these categories has different insurance needs and options.

Avian and Exotic Pet Insurance

In the U.S., Nationwide is the only company that provides coverage for birds and exotic pets. This includes most avians, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. However, there are some exclusions to their coverage, including certain venomous or endangered species, and those that are illegal to own or require special permits.

Equine Insurance

Equine insurance is a separate category that covers horses. Several companies, including Nationwide, offer insurance for horses. The insurance cost for horses can be quite high due to their size and the complexity of their care.

Coverage Details

Nationwide’s policies for avians and exotics are on a reimbursement basis. This means you pay for the treatment upfront and receive a reimbursement after. The coverage includes treatments for accidents, illnesses, exams, lab fees, prescriptions, X-rays, and hospitalization.


Most pet insurance policies, including Nationwide’s, do not cover pre-existing conditions. Other excluded conditions include congenital and hereditary conditions, conditions not listed in the benefit schedule, and conditions related to breeding.

Cost of Coverage

The cost of coverage varies depending on the species of the pet. According to Nationwide, the average monthly cost of coverage for a bird or an exotic pet is $8 for a reptile, $9 for most other exotics, and $15.75 for birds.

Alternatives to Pet Insurance

There are also alternatives to pet insurance, such as veterinary discount membership programs and medical credit cards. These options aren’t insurance but can provide some financial assistance when it comes to caring for your pet.

1. Pet Savings Fund: Set aside a little cash each month for your pet’s medical needs. It’s like having your own pet emergency fund.

2. Pet Wellness Plans: These cover routine care like vaccinations and check-ups. Perfect if you’re focused on preventive care.

3. Self-Insurance: Instead of paying for a policy, stash cash in a dedicated account for vet expenses. Simple and straightforward.

4. Discount Plans: Pay a fee for reduced rates on vet services. Think of it like a VIP pass to the vet’s office.


Regardless of the type of pet you have, pet insurance or an alternative can provide peace of mind knowing that you can afford the best care for your pet if it become ill or have an accident.

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