Fish and Reptile Insurance | Money

Fish and reptiles may be less common as pets than dogs or cats, but they’re not necessarily less beloved by their owners — or less in need of medical attention and even pet insurance.

If the care requirement surprises you, you haven’t spent time in the world of exotic animals. Medical issues vary by species, but pet insurance expert Imani Francies USInsuranceAgents.com, says a host of reptile problems require treatment. Medical conditions, she says, can include internal parasites, diarrhea, respiratory infections, constipation, bacterial infections and low blood calcium levels. There is even reptilian cancer, which can be treated similarly to warm-blooded pets, according to the specialist medical site. vetexotic.lescliniques.com.

Regarding our underwater friends, Francies says that “fish can get sick from poor water quality which leads them to have weakened immune systems, which reduces their ability to fight off disease,” adding that “a veterinarian can advise a fish owner how to care for the fish to restore it to health and how to properly treat and maintain the water.”

And while these animals tend to be small, their vet bills don’t necessarily have to be. For example, Francies says that for reptiles, exam costs can be around $50 to $100, and you can spend up to $200 on medication or microscopic exams. “Depending on the severity of an illness and any treatment, surgery and anesthesia can cost anywhere from $150 to $350,” she says.

Insure your exotic animal

Care for animals without fur is a little harder to find than for traditional pets – not all vets offer it – as do the pet insurance companies that cover it. The largest pet insurance provider for furless companions is At national scale, which covers everything from chameleons to iguanas to turtles. Small insurance companies like Pet insured and Premium Insurance also offer cover for reptiles and other “exotics”.

Among them, these companies will cover a lot of species, but they don’t insure the whole zoo dang. As you’d expect, insurance companies won’t cover rare or dangerous animals that you can’t legally own, such as poisonous, endangered, or threatened species. Also prohibited, Francies says, are “herded species (chickens, pigeons, etc.)” and hybrids of domestic pets with a wild or undomesticated species.

Basic insurance covers accidents and illnesses. If you want your creature covered for routine care, you will need to pay extra. In this and other respects, exotic pet insurance plans work just as they do for cats and dogs. The cost of your monthly pet insurance premium will vary depending on the deductible you choose (usually $250 to $1,000) and the copayment percentage you choose (usually 20%, with 10% and 30% other common options).

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Is the insurance worth it?

Insurance premiums for fish and reptiles are lower than for more popular pets. For example, a reptile policy with Nationwide can average around $9 per month, which is a fraction of the monthly averages of around $60 per month for dogs and $30 for cats. And your lifetime premium expenses will likely be less as well, since lizards or tropical fish usually only live 3-5 years. (A notable outlier are turtles, which can live to be 50 to 60 years old.)

However, even though per-visit costs can sometimes escalate, reptile owners generally spend less on medical care than traditional pet owners. Writing on petplace.com, Dr. John Williams estimates annual veterinary costs for lizards, iguanas, and snakes at no more than $100 to $125 per year. This compares to estimated veterinary costs, without preventive care, of $214 and $426 respectively, for cats and dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association.

In terms of insurance, lower average veterinary costs reduce the risk of you having to pay bills over the course of a year that exceed the policy deductible. Also, as some fish owners are well aware, a smaller pet can simply pass away with little or no notice – and policies generally don’t insure you the cost of replacing a deceased pet.

Ultimately, as with other pets, the value of insuring a scaled pet may depend on what kind of fish or reptile owner you are. If you’re inclined to take action to save your pet, you might want peace of mind by having insurance. On the other hand, if you’re okay with the possibility of an occasional high bill, or the risk of not treating a sick fish or reptile at all, you’ll probably want to pass on a policy.

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