Many reading this article are probably very aware of the medical costs that can be accrued if your horse falls ill. Colic surgery can range from $2,000 to $12,000 depending on the condition; the newest lameness treatments such as stem cell therapy, IRAP, shockwave treatment and Tildren are expensive. That’s not to mention the initial investment you made when you purchased your horse. Though it may not be for everyone and every horse, equine insurance is available and can be a life saver, or make the difference between getting a replacement horse or not.
Insurance policies are legal contracts between the underwriter (the company) and the insured (horse owner). While individual policies vary so much from company to company and circumstance to circumstance, it is important to note that each policy has its own terms, conditions, and requirements which may necessitate action from you, the veterinarian, and the insurance company.
Always read the contract thoroughly before you apply for coverage. Make sure you understand all that is in it and know what your responsibilities are if your horse becomes ill, injured, or dies. Make sure you know what your pay out would be if your horse died–an agreed value or a fair market value, and what cash would actually exchange hands. Know the time period for reporting any health problems to your insurance carrier and whether or not your horse is covered when traveling out of state or out of the country. Make sure you know the guidelines of your policy and how to contact your insurance company in an emergency situation. You don’t want to sift through the pile of papers on your desk in a crisis situation, when all you can really think about is your horse.
If your horse needs to be euthanized, not going through the mandated steps may invalidate your claim, and the insurance company may not pay out. Let the veterinarian know if your horse is insured if they need to come out on an emergency. In some cases, the insurance company may wish to seek a second opinion before a horse is euthanized.
Determine if you must have prior approval for any elective surgery or medical procedures, and understand your financial obligations regarding veterinarian examinations, laboratory tests, necropsies, or other procedures which may be required by the insurer. Go ahead and comparison shop and ask around with other horse owners to see how they like their policy and how they’ve been treated. Go with a company that does a lot of horse insurance. Some insurance companies have specialists for certain riding disciplines.
Depending on the type of policy and/or the value of the horse, a physical exam by a veterinarian may be required prior to the policy being issued. Insurance companies may exclude pre-existing conditions your horse has developed.
Various Types of Equine Insurance
- Mortality – Paid if the horse dies. For mortality coverage, you can generally expect to pay premiums of anywhere from 2.5 to 4 percent of the horse’s value.
- Loss of Use – Paid on a percentage basis if the horse is permanently incapacitated for his/her intended use or purpose.
- Major Medical – Like health insurance, this offsets costs of veterinary care for catastrophic conditions.
- Surgical – Policies that cover only specific procedures such a colic surgery.
- Breeding Infertility – Covers stallions or mares for reproductive failure.
- Specified Perils – Includes any number of things such as lightning, fire, or transportation.
- Equine Liability – Covers any damage your horse may do to other people or property.
- General Liability – Commercial liability is available for facilities and horse operations.
If your horse is stabled at a boarding facility, we suggest that you let the barn owner/manager know how to contact the insurance company if you aren’t available if an emergency occurs. Many of our clients put the insurance contact information directly on the horse’s stall card.
There are many reputable equine insurance companies to choose from–do your homework to find the policy that works best for you!