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Does anyone sell health insurance for pet birds?

Yes. Some pet insurance companies sell policies only for dogs and cats, but a few sell policies for other animals, including birds.

VPI Pet Insurance, for instance, offers an avian and exotic pets plan that covers medical treatments and surgeries for accidents and illnesses, minor treatments, lab fees, prescriptions, X-rays and hospitalizations. The company website says the policy also covers birds for self-mutilation, feather-picking, egg binding surgery, neoplasia surgery and more.

For an additional cost, you can add a rider to your policy to pay for routine exams, blood testing, fecal analysis, nail and wing trim and other types of routine care. VPI, which also insures dogs and cats, is the only insurer in the U.S. offering plans for exotic pets, except for companies that cater to zoo animals.

Pet insurance, particularly for dogs and cats, has grown in popularity as technology and veterinary medicine have advanced. Today pets can undergo procedures to extend and improve the quality of their lives, even when they have serious illnesses.

But treatments aren't cheap. A hip replacement for a dog, for instance, can cost as much as $10,000. Cancer treatments for canines can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. When a beloved pet requires expensive treatment, pet insurance provides a welcome safety net.

Plans run from roughly $10 to $100 a month, depending on the breadth of coverage. Some policies for dogs and cats cover only emergency care after accidents, while others feature coverage for a broad range of services, including treatment for illnesses and preventive care.

Some employers offer pet insurance discounts as a workplace benefit. VPI has partnerships with more than 2,000 employers in the United States.

For more, see the basics of pet insurance.

Last updated: Apr. 8, 2011