Editor's Note: The picture above is just for aesthetic purposes, and doesn't condone housing rabbits outdoors. It recently came to my attention that best practice calls for housing rabbits indoors, not outdoors. Please keep your rabbits safe!
Rabbits are very active, sociable, and inquisitive. A bored bunny will chew anything, often with dire consequences, and environmental issues can lead to illnesses. So, rabbit owners need to think about how they will pay for the care of these pets called ‘exotics.’
Back in 2012, the American Veterinary Medical Association already estimated that 1,408,000 households owned 3,210,000 rabbits. Despite the growing number of exotic pets in U.S. homes, you will still only find one exotic pet insurer.
Which Companies Cover Insurance for Exotic Animals, Including Rabbits?
Nationwide offers pet insurance coverage to exotics through its Avian & Exotic Pet Plan. The company, known formerly as Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), was rebranded as Nationwide Pet Insurance in 2015, after 30+ years of activity. Its plan covers geckos to goats, potbellied pigs to tortoises, and rabbits.
The only alternative to Nationwide is not exactly ‘insurance.’ It is a discount program called Pet Assure that offers 25% discounts on a full range of in-house medical services.
How Does a Pet Assure Plan Work for Rabbits? Costs? Benefits?
Pet Assure varies significantly from pet insurance: it covers all medical conditions for rabbits of all ages immediately, with no deductibles to pay. The biggest difference is that you need to use a vet within their network.
You enroll your rabbit online, then go to the vet with your ID card. For a monthly premium of about $10, you get an instant discount on all ‘in-house medical services’ when you pay your bill. That’s it.
'In-house medical services’ does not include items like grooming, boarding, and services outsourced to third parties, like lab work.
How Does a Nationwide Policy Work for Rabbits? Costs? Benefits?
With Nationwide, you must call the company to set up coverage for your rabbit, which can be treated by any licensed veterinarian in the U.S. or abroad. The waiting period is about 14 days.
Your policy covers expenses linked to accidents and illnesses: examinations, diagnostics, lab tests, surgery, hospitalization, prescriptions, and more. According to a sample policy, it excludes:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Internal or external parasites
- Routine care
- Congenital or hereditary issues
- Elective and maintenance procedures
- Breeding-related issues
How the Nationwide Plan Reimburses
You take your rabbit to the vet and pay the invoice for the services. After a 30-day processing cycle, Nationwide reimburses its portion of the claim you submit.
Nationwide bases its reimbursement on a complicated, multi-column Veterinary Services Benefit Schedule, not on your veterinarian’s invoice.
After you meet the deductible for that condition, Nationwide pays 90% of the value indicated on its benefit schedule for eligible expenses. Maximum payout is $2,000 per accident or illness, $7,000 for the 12-month term of your policy, no lifetime maximum.
What a Nationwide Plan Costs
An online flyer shows rabbits falling within Group 2 of Nationwide’s exotic coverage, at $9.50 per month, although customers report paying monthly premiums of $12.
Unfortunately, Nationwide’s routine care rider for exotic pets applies only to birds, not to rabbits.
What Are Some Common Health Issues Faced by Rabbits?
In-home rabbits live the longest, up to about 12 years. The most common health issues encountered are:
- Upper respiratory infection, or snuffles
- Ear infections
- Bacteria-caused abscesses
- Uterine infections or cancer
- Overgrown incisors
- Internal and external parasites
Nationwide does not cover parasites. For all other issues, the allowances on the benefit schedule will help you decide if the reimbursement justifies the annual premium you are quoted.
How Much Does It Cost to Treat Health Issues for Rabbits?
Annual exams run $35-$90. A periodic filing of your rabbit’s ever-growing teeth can cost a few hundred dollars. Spaying female rabbits is essential to avoid later-in-life uterine cancer. Pet owners report costs of $75 and above, yet the Rabbit House Society estimates $250.
One Reddit member reported that the treatment of chronic progressive respiratory disease (with special tests and a secondary ear infection) cost $1,159.22, of which Nationwide covered $870.
Why Might Pet Insurance for Rabbits Make Sense?
Like other ‘prey’ pets, rabbits hide illnesses as a self-preserving instinct. That means things can be dire before you notice changes in your pet’s behavior. One example is GI (gastrointestinal) stasis, which can quickly lead to death. Being able to involve a vet without hesitation can make all the difference, and pet insurance makes that possible.