Guide to Rabbit Insurance

Every rabbit owner knows that vet bills are expensive. You can plan and save for routine treatment like vaccinations but unexpected illnesses or injuries can mean a bill running into tens or hundreds of pounds. Many insurance companies are now offering pet rabbit insurance which works much like human medical insurance: you pay a weekly/monthly premium and when you rabbit needs treatment you can make a claim on the insurance.

It is important to carefully read the small print before choosing an insurance company, as what they cover and how much they will pay varies. Cheaper insurance may save you money in the short term but it may mean that certain conditions are not covered.

Below are some of the 'technical' bits you need to check up on when choosing. Remember to get any information on what's covered in writing not just over the phone so there can be no disputes when it comes to claiming.

Excess - Most insurance companies will specify an amount either in pounds of percent of a vet bill that you have to pay towards an insurance claim and then they cover the remainder. The amount you have to pay is called the excess. For example, if your policy has an excess of 15 and you have a vet bill for 40. You would pay the first 15 and the insurance company would pay the remaining 25. This means that if your vet bill is under 15 you have to pay all of it.

Exclusions - These are things that the insurance company won't pay for, they generally include routine treatments such as for fleas, vaccinations and neutering. Watch out for other things like teeth problems though, these are common in rabbits and it can be an expensive shock if you don't realise your insurance doesn't cover them.

Requirements - Your insurance company may require your rabbit to be vaccinated in order to be covered (which is a good idea any way). They generally also have conditions such as seeking prompt vet advice and providing proper housing.

Age Span - Some policies have an upper age limit and won't cover your pet as they grow older. Others may only provide insurance if your pet has been insured with them prior to the age limit not to new customers.

Life Long (Recurring Conditions) - Companies may limit the amount/duration you can claim per condition. If your rabbit develops a problem that needs on going treatment some policies may not cover it for the rest of your rabbits life.

Maximum Claim Limit - This may be set as a maximum claim per condition and/or year. Check it is sufficient to cover all potential costs.

Pre-Existing Conditions - Many insurance companies won't accept claims for treatment of conditions your bunny developed prior to being insured. You should check what the company will cover and also whether they will cover conditions that develop as a result of a prior problem.

Additional Benefits - Some insurance companies offer payments to help recover lost/stolen rabbits such as money for advertising or offering rewards. Boarding fees may be cover if you are hospitalised and holiday cancellation costs if you need to cancel a holiday because of your rabbit. Seeing a behaviourist if your rabbit develops behaviour problems may or may not be covered.

Start Date - There may be a delay, for example 14 days, between you taking out a policy and it becoming active. Any vet treatment during this time cannot usually be claimed for.

Alternative/Addition to Insurance

If insurance isn't the right option for you and your rabbit or you have insurance but still need to pay for some vet bills then a rabbit savings account can be helpful. The idea is to put money in to a savings account regularly and then you will have cash available when you get an unexpected vet bill. If you have insurance then the money can be used to pay the excess on your policy. Many banks offer high interest savings accounts that are suitable for this purpose, shop around to get a good deal.

Note: This is only a guide see individual insurance companies for explanations of their particular terms and conditions.

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