Pet Insurance: The Reality and the Myths (Part II)

Small animals sure can be fragile. That could mean pricey trips to the vets since, as we all know, rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas require specialized veterinary care. And, specialized care can add up quickly.

Last month, we discussed the reality of veterinary costs and the fact that an increasing number of pets are euthanized because pet parents cannot afford the necessary veterinary costs to care for them. Click here to read Part I of the article. 

Pet insurance is NOT an investment

Before we jump into today’s discussion about Nationwide, the only company in the United States that currently insures exotic pets, let’s just sum up how insurance works.

Pet insurance is not an investment. Rather, it’s a risk management tool. You are paying a premium each month for pet insurance in case your pet gets sick or injured. If your small animal goes her entire life without ever getting sick or injured, you won’t get the money that you paid for the pet insurance back.

If you decide to purchase pet insurance, keep in mind that it is not an investment.

Nationwide Pet Insurance: How it works

Insuring your beloved pets could mean the difference between life and death down the road. But, how does it work, how much does it cost, and what does it cover? Let’s take a look.

What does it Nationwide’s pet insurance cover?

Nationwide covers exotic animals – like rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and ferrets – but that coverage only includes injuries, illnesses, and accidents. Wellness visits are only covered for avian clients.

What about pre-existing conditions?

That’s the burning questions. Are pre-existing conditions of your beloved little one covered?  In a word, no, but. Yep, there’s a but.

“A pre-existing condition is an ailment or injury that was contracted, treated, or diagnosed prior to the policy effective date," says Holly Thompson, a social media representative for Nationwide. 

"However, even if a pet does have a pre-existing condition, it doesn't disqualify them from owning the plan or cause their rates to be more expensive. If a condition is deemed pre-existing, it may be eligible for coverage in the future of the condition in question can be cured for a minimum of six months," she says. 

How much does it cost?

An estimated 25,000 exotic pets have been insured by Nationwide. How much your pet’s monthly premium will be, according Thompson, depends on several factors, including the state in which you live, the level of coverage you choose, and the type of exotic you have.

Policies, however, do start as low as nine dollars a month.

How does Nationwide pay?

Nationwide permits you to go to the veterinarian you choose. You will, however, be responsible for paying for the veterinary services at the time of service before submitting the bill to Nationwide for reimbursement.

“Reimbursement on our avian/exotic plans is based off a schedule of benefits. Each condition or wellness service that the policy covers has a yearly maximum on how much we will reimburse for treating and testing the condition,” Thompson says. “Reimbursement is not based off a percentage of what they are charged by their veterinarian.

Nationwide offers two options for reimbursement: Direct deposit into your bank account or via a check.

Now what?

Exotic pet parents must call Nationwide for a quote. If you plan to get more information, make sure you have some information readily available, including:

  • Type of pet
  • Age
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Date of adoption
  • Past illnesses or conditions that have been treated by a veterinarian

For the most accurate quote, Thompson recommends prospective clients just be straightforward.  “It's important for pet owners to be up front about if their pet has been treated for any conditions prior to enrollment - that way we can be as transparent as possible about what we can and cannot cover,” she says.

For more information on Nationwide’s Pet Insurance, click here. And, don’t forget to read Part I of the Reality and Myths of Pet Insurance by clicking here.