When you’re out enjoying time with your horse, the thought of an illness or accident may be the furthest thing from your mind. Equine insurance might be something you’ve never considered but, unfortunately, accidents do happen.
Having horses can be an expensive proposition, especially if he requires major medical treatment. Unless you have access to a quick $5,000 to $10,000 that you won’t miss, you may want to consider getting some equine insurance.
There are many options available, but the basic types of equine insurance horse owners usually purchase are mortality and major medical policies. “Mortality insurance is basically like life insurance for your horse,” explains Susan Travis, Vice President of Morningstar Insurance Brokers Inc. By obtaining mortality insurance, the full value of your horse, as stated in your policy agreement, will be covered in the event of death or theft. While these policies do include death by natural causes, it is important to know that most insurance providers will not provide mortality coverage for pre-existing conditions. Daina Strickland, a broker from Colley Borland and Vale Insurance explains: “If your horse passes on as a result of cancer, your policy will cover his death. However, if it is found that the horse was undoubtedly suffering from the cancer before your coverage began, your insurance claim will be denied.”
The value of your horse, as well as the cost of the coverage available to you, depends on a number of factors. These include the age, breed, and use of your horse. “Horses over the age of 15 or younger than one year are usually more difficult to obtain insurance for,” says Susan. “Policies will most likely be more expensive or have more exceptions to the coverage.” Or, if you have trained your horse and it shows well, you may need to increase his value as outlined in your policy. Typically, the higher the stated value of the horse in the policy, the higher your premiums will be. Each equine insurance provider will charge a minimum premium, which usually ranges between $150 to $200 per year.
In addition to a mortality policy, purchasing major medical insurance for your equine partner can be a good idea. Treatment for a serious accident or illness can be extremely expensive. Major medical coverage will ensure that you can afford the very best medical and surgical treatment for your horse in an emergency situation. Unlike a mortality policy, major medical coverage is not subject to the value of your horse. Most insurance providers allow you to select the amount of coverage you think you will need based on the risks associated with the use of your horse. “Generally, major medical will not cover routine preventative care or enhancement procedures,” says Susan. This means that your coverage will not include dental work, vaccinations and regular veterinary visits. Typically, alternative therapies are also excluded in an insurance policy of this kind but if the treatment is found to be a necessity, each case is assessed individually. While vaccination records are rarely necessary to obtain insurance, there is often an exception for West Nile Virus.
Mortality and major medical insurance are purchased separately, although some insurance providers will offer a Broad Form Policy which is a combination of the two. This policy is ideal for insuring horses of lesser value. “These policies will usually provide mortality coverage for horses valued up to $10,000 as well as a lower amount of major medical coverage for colic or accidental death or injury,” explains Daina. A Broad Form policy provides the average horse owner with some security in the event of a sudden tragedy, while offering lower premium rates.
Another form of insurance horse owners may want to consider is individual horse owner’s liability. “This insurance covers the potential injury or property damage caused by your horse,” explains Susan. Horses are large animals that can be unpredictable at times – especially if they are removed from their familiar environments. Policies of this kind will often cover the insured horse even when traveling off the owner’s property. “We recently received a claim from one client whose horse caused damage to a parked car by sitting on the bumper!” says Susan.
The world of equine insurance can be a confusing one. Each provider has different policies and levels of coverage, so it is important to find an agent to help determine the right plan for you and your equine partner. While there are many equine insurance providers available across North America, it is crucial to select one who has equine knowledge and understands the industry. Talk to friends and neighbors to find out who they are insured by. Most importantly, be sure to read all the fine print and obtain clarification of exclusions or clauses that you do not fully understand. Your horse’s life and your financial security may depend on it.
At the end of the day, knowing that your insurance company will help cover some of the costs takes a bit of strain away from making one of the bigger decisions regarding your horse.