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Pet Insurance for Birds: Everything You Need to Know
When people think about pet insurance, they typically imagine getting it for the family dog or cat. Few people ever consider the possibility that other pets — everything from guinea pigs to actual pigs — can potentially be protected by a policy too.
That includes birds — and why shouldn’t it? These animals stick around a long time and can become deeply intertwined in their owners’ lives, so it makes sense that they’d need the occasional bit of pricey medical care and that their owners would be more than willing to pay for it.
If you have a pet bird, pet insurance is something that’s definitely worth exploring. In this guide, we fill you in on everything that you need to know about protecting your bird.
Do You Really Need Pet Insurance for Your Bird?
The necessity of pet insurance is something of a controversial topic, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Would you prefer to have a manageable expense each month, or would you prefer to take your chances that your bird will never need costly medical care?
Generally speaking, birds are healthy pets when cared for properly. However, when they do get sick or injured, those conditions can be costly to treat.
That’s especially true because many vets don’t see birds all that often. You may have to look around in order to find someone who specializes in birds, and they may not be the cheapest doctor in your area. In that case, having insurance on hand to defray the costs can help quite a bit.
The typical cost for a vet visit for your bird can be a hundred bucks or more, and some treatments can run into thousands of dollars. If your bird is accident-prone (and some birds are real klutzes), these visits could be frequent.
Also, keep in mind that many birds live longer than other pets — sometimes decades longer. That creates much more opportunity for something to go wrong.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost for Birds?
The cost of a premium for your bird will vary depending on multiple factors, including the company that you choose, the coverage that you want, and the species that you own.
Typically, though, most premiums range from $10 to $50 per month. Expect those numbers to go up as your bird gets older, though, and they could go up quite a bit if your pet has a serious condition requiring ongoing care (and that’s if your insurer decides to continue covering you at all).
Using simple, back-of-the-envelope math, we can see that on the high end, pet insurance can cost somewhere around $600 per year. Given that some treatments can cost more than that on their own, it simply becomes a matter of weighing the likelihood that your bird will need costly medical care.
Unfortunately, though, waiting too long can have serious consequences. If your bird gets sick or injured before they’re insured, the cost of your premium will skyrocket (and many companies will refuse to insure you at all). Also, the older the bird gets, the pricier your policy will become.
What Does the Typical Premium Cover?
There is no “typical” policy when it comes to birds and other exotic pets; each company has different policy options, and many don’t cover these animals at all.
Most companies will work with you to provide you with whatever coverage you like (for a price, of course). Common things that are typically covered by pet insurance policies include:
- Vet visits
- Prescription medications
- Lab fees
- Hospital stays
Some policies are geared toward preventative coverage; these will include strong incentives to take your bird in for regular checkups and keep them fit and healthy, as that reduces the risk that they’ll need expensive medical care down the road.
Others are geared primarily toward catastrophes. These will cover things like accidents and certain diseases, but they may not be much help at all when it comes time to pay for checkups and medications.
Does Every Pet Insurance Company Offer Bird Coverage?
No, birds are typically considered “exotic pets,” and they’re lumped in with lizards, snakes, guinea pigs, etc.
Not every company offers exotic pet coverage; there’s simply more money in covering cats and dogs. The expenses involved with non-traditional pets can be more unpredictable than those associated with their more common counterparts.
Many of the top companies will have exotic pet options, and some smaller organizations may even specialize in exotic animals. The important thing is to make sure that the company will cover what you need covered at a price that you can afford and that you can rely on it to be there for you when you need it.
To that last point, you should research before signing up for a policy. See what kinds of experiences other people have had with the company to make sure it will really have your back in an emergency.
Having a sick or injured pet is stressful enough. You don’t need your insurance company making things worse.
What Should You Look For When Shopping for Bird Pet Insurance?
Naturally, the first thing that you should do is verify that the company does in fact cover birds. You should go one step further and make sure it covers your specific species of bird — not every company will insure every type of bird.
If your pet is older or has pre-existing conditions, you should see if the company will still accept you (and how much more it will cost to do so). Some companies don’t care about age or previous health issues, while others will exclude you right off the bat.
Once you know that a company does offer policies that will help you, you should see what kind of coverage it provides. This will be a matter of personal preference; some people enjoy having comprehensive coverage (and don’t mind paying more for it), while others prefer lower premiums that will only protect them in case of a true catastrophe.
Read up to find out what its policy is in regard to payouts. Some companies pay your vet up front, while others require you to pay and then reimburse you later. If the company pays later, find out how much later and what kind of documentation you need to provide. Some companies make you jump through hoops to get your money back.
Do your research to see what kinds of experiences that other customers have had regarding getting paid. Does the company pay on time? Are its customer service representatives friendly and knowledgeable? After all, you don’t need your insurance company making your life harder — that’s the exact opposite of what they should be doing.
Is Bird Pet Insurance Right for You?
Pet insurance can come in handy in the middle of a crisis, but it’s not right for everyone. You should sit down and review various policies (and crunch a few numbers) to see if insuring your bird makes sense in your situation.
If there’s one thing that we can promise you in regard to pet insurance, it’s that if you have it, you won’t need it — and if you don’t have it, you’ll end up wishing you did. It’s one of the laws of the universe.
Featured Image Credit: Jearu, Shutterstock
Quincy has been around mutts his entire life and has been writing about them for the past nine years and now consists of sharing a house with three spoiled pups who couldn’t hold down a job to save their lives. Quincy never intended to be a cat person. When his wife brought home a kitten one day, he told her she had one week to find it a new home. That week turned into 10 years (his wife moves very slowly), and that kitten turned into three (they got two more, the kitten didn’t self-replicate). After a decade of sharing his home with the dogs and three cats, one horrifying realization finally set in: oh God, he’s a cat person now too, isn’t he???