Pet Factsheets

Health insurance for your rabbit

When taking out pet insurance, makes sure you read all the small print, so you know what is and isn’t covered

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of rabbits which would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive, so that a vet's bill for complicated surgery or a prolonged course of treatment may be several hundreds of pounds. Many pet owners worry that they will not be able to afford to pay for treatment if their rabbit becomes sick or has a major accident.

Who takes out pet insurance?

During the past two decades an increasing number of pet owners have chosen to take out insurance to cover the cost of veterinary treatment. There are a number of different companies in the pet insurance market. It is not just valuable pedigree animals that are insured.

What costs are covered by insurance?

Many rabbits require major veterinary attention each year (in addition to the annual check-ups and vaccination). The cover provided by different insurance policies varies according to the type of policy required and the cost of the premium. Typically, a policy will pay for the costs of veterinary treatment for illness or accident. A good insurance policy will reimburse you the costs of recovering the animal if it goes missing, and boarding fees should you become hospitalized.

What costs are not covered by insurance?

As with all household and motor insurance policies there is likely to be an excess on the policy so you will pay a small proportion of any veterinary bills. Policies are not designed to cover day-to-day maintenance and routine health care. Treatment for diseases which were already present at the time that the animal was insured will usually be exempt from cover. Vaccinations, neutering costs and other routine preventive treatments are also exempt under most policies, as are the costs relating to the trimming of teeth or pregnancy.

What should I look for in an insurance policy?

It is important to read insurance documents with care to make sure that the proposed policy is the one which will suit you and your rabbit:

  • Some policies have a time or cost limit for the treatment of each particular condition. This means there is a danger that your rabbit will run out of insurance cover if it requires long-term treatment for a chronic problem.
  • Make sure that your rabbit will be covered for the whole of its life because your pet is more likely to need veterinary treatment as it gets older.
  • Consider the amount of time and effort that will be needed to make a claim. A good insurance company will process most claims within two working days of receiving the documents from your vet.

How much will insurance cost?

The cost of insurance will obviously depend on the type of animal insured and the sort of cover that you require. Some policies offer cover for as little as £3.75 per month. The average premium will be between £45 and £100 a year depending on where you live, so taking the average lifespan of a rabbit the insurance bills are likely to reach about £500. You may be able to get special discounts on your insurance if you are a pensioner or have more than one animal insured. Pet insurance is a competitive market, so it pays to shop around. Nevertheless, remember that the cheapest company is not always the best value for money. Look carefully at the policy to see exactly what is covered by the insurance and be sure that it is what you need. Companies with cheaper policies may haggle over the cost of treatment or delay payment on legitimate claims. Ask your vet about the claims settlement history of your preferred companies before you sign up.

Is it worth taking out rabbit health insurance?

There is no compulsion to take out pet insurance and it is for you to decide whether it is necessary. Certainly, cost may be a factor, but the average increase in the premiums for veterinary health insurance policies have gone up far less over the past few years than the equivalent policies for human health care. For a relatively small annual cost every rabbit owner who takes out insurance has peace of mind. If your rabbit has health insurance, you know that everything will be done to restore them to full health and fitness if they become seriously ill or have an accident. If you are in any doubt it may help to ask a friend who has some experience of insuring their animals. Your vet or veterinary nurse will also be able to give you independent advice on the types of insurance available.

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