Rats are rodents which can make great pets due to their loving nature and intelligence. All veterinary professionals are qualified to treat rats, but many do not have much experience. You can get pet insurance for rats, however, there are pros and cons to insuring pets. The most important factor is whether your insurance company will cover the costs you expect them to pay.

Why should I insure a rat? 

Rats are not very common pets in the United Kingdom. As a result, there are not very many rodent specialists. Vets who specialise in rats are therefore hard to come across. They are more aware and have more experience regarding common diseases experienced by rats and using off-license drug protocols to help benefit them. 

If you feel you will want specialist care for any pet, we highly recommend pet insurance because the cost of this gold-standard care can be higher. When acquiring a new pet rat, you should check with the breeder if your rat, or any rats your pet has been living with, have had any disease before so you are aware of any ongoing issues. If possible, receiving a medical history for your pet before purchase is advisable for this reason too. 

Remember too, though, that even a general practice vet will see a fair number of pet rats. And with modern medicines even fairly complex surgeries are possible and pretty safe. However, this too is not cheap, and insurance can be a genuine life-saver if your rat requires an operation.

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance is a subscription-based service which allows you to pay a small, fixed, monthly fee to a company. In return, they will pay for sudden, larger veterinary bills should your pet require treatment. If you feel you can afford these larger bills, not getting insurance may be the cheapest option in the long run. However, you can never guarantee when or if your pet rat is going to get ill; making it hard to predict when or if you will ever need the money. 

Every insurance policy has terms and conditions which will state any exclusions of their policy. Be sure you are familiar with what you are purchasing prior to signing up. The insurer should make you aware of any changes in price that you could expect and how long you pay each fee for. This hugely helps with forward planning and budgeting. You will always have to pay an excess before the insurance company will cover a bill. This means smaller bills are not worth claiming for because the excess will exceed the entirety of the bill.

If you do visit the vets multiple times for one condition, you will be able to accumulate the amount you have spent for that condition to make a claim. If you have multiple rats, they will each need to be insured. You can only usually submit claims for one condition per rat, rather than one condition per group of rats.

Are rats expensive to keep?

The initial cost of keeping a rat is expensive. You need to ensure they have adequate housing which includes space to run around, eat, drink, socialise and climb. Rats enjoy playing, so adding some toys is a great idea.

A rat consult is generally cheaper in most veterinary practices, in comparison to the consult fee of a dog or a cat. Medication is calculated at a mg/kg dose meaning the heavier the animal, the more medication they will require. Rats are very small, so the drug dosing is usually small. Because rats are often kept together, though, you may need to treat all animals living in close proximity especially if the suspected disease is infectious. 

Hospitalisation and nursing of any pet is expensive because it requires intense human labour. Handling your rat regularly so they are familiar with human contact will make it much easier to medicate your animal. Starting handling from a young age is very highly recommended.

How can I get the best insurance deal?

If you have a multi policy, which incorporates different cover including your home and its contents, your health insurance as well as your pets’ insurance, it may work out cheaper. These insurance bundles can be compared on many comparison sites although, because a rat is not a common pet, there are fewer companies offering rat insurance in comparison to other pets. 

Calling companies directly can often result in reduced rates too. While you are trying to bargain for the best deal, be sure the company does not compromise the level of insurance they are providing for your pet and ensure you understand any changes to terms and conditions. 

When do I get insurance for my rat?

Younger animals are much less likely to suffer from disease in comparison to older ones. Getting a lifelong insurance policy often gives you the cheapest monthly fee, but you will be paying it for longer and may not need it. Older animals more commonly become ill and require veterinary care but getting insurance for an older rat can be more challenging. Older rats accrue a medical history, on record at their veterinary practice, and any condition listed will be considered a ‘pre-existing’ condition. Your insurance policy may then exclude it from your ability to claim for it. 

Be sure that your rat receives regular check-ups from your veterinary professionals so they are able to pick up on any disease processes earlier on. The sooner disease is detected, the sooner treatment can be started and the better the prognosis, thus the bill will be cheaper. Many veterinary practices offer loyalty plans which include health checks throughout the year. These are ideal for monitoring disease processes but also help to identify early signs of disease. 

With any insurance policy, you should do thorough research prior to signing up. You need to be aware of the limitations of the policy and aware of what exactly you can claim for.

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