As any experienced horse owner might tell you, vet bills can cost a small fortune. With a little equine insurance knowledge, you can surely save some money. Here are 8 things to know if you want to insure your horse.
1 – How does equine insurance work?
Put simply, insurance is a contract between you and an insurer. Every month, you pay a fee that will allow the policy to refund you (or pay directly) costs (sometimes very high) that would be related to a claim. A claim can be a car accident, a theft, a fire, or an illness. You must know that insurance is mandatory for homes and cars. Insurances cover unexpected events so you don’t find yourself going bankrupt overnight over a claim. It’s even better when it covers a claim that wasn’t your fault.
Well for horses it’s exactly the same. Horses can face claims. For example, they get kicked, hurt themselves on a fence, get a colic or even die. In all those cases, insurance can cover all or parts of the expenses related to these claims, or even refund the horse’s value if he dies.
2 – In which cases is it really important to have my horse insured?
In many cases. It’s really important when you:
- Rent a horse or have a horse entrusted to you (it may be required by the owner)
- Cannot afford to pay high veterinary fees
- Want to secure money to buy a new horse in case of death or disability of the current horse
- Want to cover damages your horse can cause to someone else (this is the civil liability)
- Take a half boarder for your horse
- Have a horse of great value
3 – Why should I insure my horse?
For one reason, because it provides peace of mind. You are covered at any moment under any circumstances and that is great when facing the unexpected. No more gigantic vet bills, even in case of glitch.
4 – How much does it cost?
It varies according to several criteria:
- The refund level you wish to have. As you can imagine, the monthly costs will be higher if the insurance covers the totality of the bill.
- The horse’s age
- The horse’s value
- The horse’s purpose
5 – What does it cover?
There are three contract types: mortality, veterinary fees and civil liability. There are also several refund levels.
The mortality contract refunds the horse’s value if he dies of illness or from an accident. It does not cover natural death.
The way it is being managed depends on the insurance itself. You will have to provide the insurer with the horse’s value. This is then validated by the insurer. The owner is then refunded for this exact value without depreciation or decrease due to age or performance at the time of death.
In the case of very high value horses, justifying documents can be requested to attest to its real value at the moment of the death (such as competition results).
Most of the time, the mortality contract is the most basic warranty. Other warranties are seen as extensions.
The veterinary fees contract refunds all or part of the veterinary costs caused by a claim. These contracts do not cover regular costs such as vaccinations and deworming – except for expensive contracts for which a part of those regular costs can be covered. Otherwise it’s like cars, there must be a claim for the costs to be covered.
What is a claim?
A claim is basically a big health problem. They are classified into 3 types: accident / surgery / illness.
An accident can be an injury caused in the paddock or field because the horse lost a shoe and got injured. A disease can be myositis, colic, gastric ulcers or osteoarthritis. A surgery may be necessary.
And what does it cover?
Depending on the level of coverage, it can cover parts or all (50 to 100%) of the veterinary fees related to a claim. So veterinary fees, medicines, ultrasounds, MRIs, lab tests, acupuncture and osteopathy (only if prescribed by a veterinarian in connection with the incident), and even orthopedic shoeing.
Civil liability is strongly recommended for all equine owners. It’s mandatory for competition horses. In fact, it covers damages (material or immaterial) that your horse can cause to someone or something, whether it is ridden or not.
6 – How much am I refunded for these things?
In the case of veterinary costs refund, there is an annual maximum depending upon the coverage. This means that each year the insurance refunds a capped amount of veterinary costs.
However, there are variations:
- The insurance covers up to a predetermined maximum per year for tendonitis, slamming, osteitis, sprains, and ligament tears.
- The annual maximum can increase in cases of colic surgery.
The annual refund cannot exceed the horse’s value. So if your horse is worth $10,000, the insurance will not refund you more than $10,000 per year. You can also choose the insurance value you want according to this criteria.
Note that depending on the pathologies and whether or not a veterinary certificate is available at the time of subscription, a waiting period may apply. That is to say, a claim’s refund only applies after this waiting period.
A franchise is a minimum amount that must be paid by you even if the insurance covers the rest.
In the case of your horse, you can have a deductible. This means that whatever the claim, you will have to pay this portion out of pocket. This means that for expenses below this deductible, the insurance will not refund you. However, even if it’s not refunded, it’s still good to declare it. Indeed, there may be additional costs (a second or third vet visit for example), which would ultimately result in the amount of the deductible being exceeded. In this case you can get a refund for the rest.
7 – What is not covered?
Depending on the contract, some costs may not be covered. Typically osteopathic expenses, transport and stabling expenses in clinics, etc. are sometimes covered, sometimes not. It is up to you to choose whether you want it covered or not.
On the other hand, some things are never covered:
- Death due to castration, doping, lack of voluntary care, administrative slaughter
- Convenience, comfort, aesthetic or maintenance treatment costs (castration, food supplements such as a garlic cure, or osteopathic manipulation for prevention or maintenance, not related to a claim).
- Expenses related to a claim that occurred before the insurance became effective.
8 – Does it also cover old horses with health issues (chronic diseases), etc?
It depends on the insurance. Depending upon the carrier, you may be able to cover:
- Horses with a known pathology. The costs linked to the pathology will not be refunded. Since it is prior to subscription, it makes the coverage of this pathology prohibited by the insurance code. On the other hand, the horse can be insured for other claims. For example, if the horse already has osteoarthritis when taking the insurance, you will not be refunded for osteoarthritis treatments. However, if an accident causes a wound, it will be covered.
- Older horses. There is a veteran guarantee for up to 30 years old horses. However, with this coverage, there are quite a few other refunds that fall out of the package.
Triton Insurance Group is a leading provider of Equine Insurance in Florida and Tennessee. Reach out to one of our agents to learn more about the peace of mind Equine Insurance can offer you.