Find out what to take into consideration when determining your horse’s individual needs when it comes to purchasing insurance.

As a longtime barn manager, Amanda knew phone calls from her staff during turn-in time were never a good thing. But she never dreamed it would be about her own easygoing horse who she had owned for quite some time without incident. However, one day it was her horse – she had been kicked badly, and was on three legs.

In the hours that ensued, the concerns and costs increased as the damage was assessed and the decision made to rush the mare to the equine hospital for surgery. Only a few months before, Amanda had been thinking about cancelling her horse’s insurance as she had never used it. Now she was thankful that she hadn’t!

While all equestrians are focused on “equine wellness”, what happens when your horse is not well? What if he is injured, becomes ill, or has a life-threatening disease? The cost of veterinary treatment to restore him to good health may be more than you can easily absorb.

Who Should Insure?

Whether or not you purchase insurance on a horse is a personal decision. The question becomes – can you afford not to? If the horse dies, can you afford to purchase another? If he becomes injured or ill, can you absorb the sudden cost of necessary treatment? Without insurance, the decision to either treat a costly, often lengthy illness or injury, or euthanize the horse, is an emotionally painful one.

What are Your Options?

First of all, it is important to understand that insurance to cover medical treatment of an illness or surgery, for example, cannot be purchased alone. Optional coverage can only be added as an addition (endorsement) to a full mortality insurance policy taken out on the life of the horse. Also, know that insurance carriers differ in what is offered, as well as eligibility and cost. With that in mind, let’s look at the available coverage selections.

Major Medical

This is by far the most popular addition to a policy. The insurance carrier will reimburse you for veterinary fees that are considered reasonable and customary, and which are incurred for diagnostic testing and/or surgical or medical treatment provided to your horse by a qualified veterinarian. Treatment, surgery or testing must be deemed necessary because of an accident, injury, lameness condition, lameness injury or physical disability that occurs or manifests during the effective dates of coverage. Understand that exclusions may apply.

Surgical Coverage

If, for whatever reason, you decline major medical, or your horse is not eligible, you may choose to add an endorsement for surgical coverage only. Or, if your horse is eligible, consider coverage for colic only. The latter is every horseperson’s fear and the cost of colic surgery can easily reach five figures if complications set in. With either of these options, you will again want to inquire about available limits and the deductible, if any.

Loss of Use

Another option that is often misunderstood is Loss of Use. Briefly, this is coverage for a horse that becomes totally and permanently unfit for his specified use as a direct result of an injury. Eligibility and restrictions apply. (This insurance is not offered to pleasure horses that are not used in competition.) There are usually two options – limited or full loss of use. Be sure you understand the coverage and terms of settlement – i.e., percentage of pay out and the choice to retain ownership or transfer ownership to the insurance carrier.

Choosing an Agent

It is highly recommended that you obtain the advice of an experienced agent who specializes in equine insurance products and can identify with your needs. Choose one who understands the risks and the protection you need, whether it is for your horse, your farm, or liability exposures. Agencies that represent several reputable companies are able to give you more choices. Selecting a company with a reputation for prompt fair claim settlement is of the utmost importance. You want an agent who can provide competitive rates and excellent service.

Bottom line – insurance protection is not overly expensive and may prove to be a very wise investment for you.


• What are the available limits to choose from?

• Will the limit be capped by the insured value of my horse?

• What is the deductible per occurrence?

• Is there a co-pay provision?

• What are the limits on shockwave or IRAP treatment?

• Does the mortality policy include emergency colic surgery?

• And, what is the cost?

Joan Booth is the Marketing Coordinator for Blue Bridle (Horse Insurance Specialists).