Whether it’s a household pet or an athlete, we all know horses are an investment. They need a lot of time and money, and things happen, as seen in this very site. Here’s what you need to know about horse insurance.
Horse Insurance: What You Need To Know
Even if you don’t show or earn any money, horses are an investment. Time, money and equipment put a dent in anyone’s budget. As living creatures, horses are at risk of illness and accidents. They also may injure others, as well as themselves. Equine insurance is a good way to protect your horses and your bank account from serendipity.
The why of equine insurance
People who don’t plan ahead might think insurance is a waste of money. But emergencies do happen (though we always hope they don’t). If a horse colics, if it injures itself in a fence, are you ready to cover the costs? What if it dies or someone steals it? What if it injures someone else? A situation that is already bad becomes even worse when there are no safety nets in place.
Different types of hazard affect horses. An annual premium paid to an insurance company guarantees some fallback during emergencies.
In case of horses, different plans cover different things. These may include health and life insurance as well as liability. Some companies may allow you to tailor a plan according to your needs. Others might offer “pre-packaged” plans covering different aspects of horse life. Like car insurances, the cost often depends on the value of the horse.
It’s more than personal protection, though. Some places demand insurance for horses. Some shows and competitions may need you to have a liability insurance.
How to choose your horse insurance company
So, insurance is great. Now, it’s time to pick the company.
Your equine insurance company is as important as your plan. You may always ask your vet for suggestions and indeed this might be the starting post of your journey. Other horse owners might provide tips as well. In any case, it’s best to investigate every suggestion and company and make sure they’re right for you.
Many people will suggest you get an agent to talk you through the process of getting horse insurance. If you aren’t familiar with the law and the terminology, this is almost essential. Sometimes the policy terms can be confusing or hard to understand. A good agent will help you figure everything out. They will help you decide between different types of policy, for example. The agent will also help you find a good company and other necessary legal services and talk.
You will want to verify if it’s a well-established, stable company. Some prefer it to have at least 10 years in the market, as it shows commitment and stability. Verify its reputation and seek for complaints against it. Your choice of horse insurance company shouldn’t be taken lightly or in a rush. An unreputable company might bring monetary loss if it cannot cover what it promised. As well as stability and reputation, make sure it is a licensed and admitted carrier in your region. This is important in case you have problems with the insurance company itself.
See if there are specific publications or compendiums in your region on insurance. If you’re not confident finding it yourself, ask for help from your vet or other horse owners, and your agent. A. M. Best rates insurance companies in over 90 countries. You will want a company that is A- or better. To know whether it is licensed in your region, contact your local Department of Insurance or similar government agency. Your agent might also verify this for you.
Then we come to price. Price is also a deciding factor, but be careful: cheaper prices mean cheaper coverage. Cheaper coverage may be insufficient for your needs. Many equine insurance companies have their policies and even starting prices online. Find one that hits the sweet spot of what you may reasonably expect.
Your horse’s activity and breed might affect the pricing of the insurance, as well as its own value. Mortality premiums often rate according to the breed, at around 2-4% of the horse’s value.
Valuing the horse
Before issuing the insurance, it’s necessary to check your horse’s worth. This may be the price you acquired the horse for, with extra value added due to training and showing. Knowing how much your horse is worth is necessary not only in mortality policies, either.
Some companies estimate how much they insure based on the horse’s monetary value. Other companies will not insure horses below a certain value.
There are two basic ways to assess your horse’s worth: market value (fair price) and agreement. Market value is pretty straightforward. In an agreement, you and the equine insurance company decide an agreed-upon price. You will have to justify the value you set upon the horse. Training receipts and show earnings can help you in this.
Note that his price can and does change, and the final worth might not be the same as the initial, agreed-upon value. In fact, in mortality insurances, the reimbursement value is the one at the time of the horse’s death. Because of this, there is no use in “overpricing” your horse.
These terms (method of pricing and the price) must be clear in the policy. Make sure you can prove the horse’s value during the last period (usually a calendar year).
Honesty about the activities of the horse is essential as well. If your horse suffers something during an activity not listed in his policy, the insurer may not cover it.
The same applies to medical issues. Insurers will demand you to declare your horse’s health before insuring it. This might be through a veterinary exam, or a simple declaration. Regardless of case, be sure to not “surprise” insurers with past issues. Tell them everything up front.
Older horses (usually older than 15) may have special condition insurances. Many equine insurance companies won’t insure them at all.
What sort of coverage?
Once you have a company, you’ll need to see what sort of coverage you need. As mentioned before, liability coverages may be mandatory to certain venues and shows. Most people will want a mortality insurance on their horse. So let’s explore the types of insurance and what they cover.
Mortality horse insurance is more or less like a human’s life insurance, though not exactly. Typically, they cover accidents, illness, injury, and sometimes theft as well. Usually, horses below six months and above fifteen years are not insurable.
They might also not cover death due to preexisting conditions. A horse who’s had several cases of colic, for example, may not be insurable. Make sure you know everything that is and isn’t included before buying.
Companies may remove restrictions after a period of time. This, too, needs to verified before buying.
Be careful and sure of what happens if the horse suffers a disastrous injury. Some companies might contest the need for the animal to be euthanized, for example. You may need to contact the insurer before putting the horse down.
Medical insurance covers things like veterinary visits and procedures. How this works varies across companies and policies.
Usually, the equine insurance is worth a total fee, consumed throughout the period of time. These do not include things such as worming and vaccinations, or routine check-ups. Rather, it covers surgeries and procedures as well as medical fees, anesthesia, etc..
If your needs exceed the annual aggregate limit, the insurer might not pay it, or pay up to the limit. Sometimes, for a lower premium, you may insure your horse for less than its worth. Often, the insured value is at least as much as the horse is worth.
In major medical insurance, the discipline and breed does not affect the premium. As with mortality, preexisting conditions and exclusions may apply. Be careful and clear about it.
Some procedures may not apply, either. Ask your insurer about it.
Like the major medical, except limited to surgeries and other major procedures.
Loss of use
This type of equine insurance works in case your horse is permanently disabled. This is useful for sports animals, as accidents might render them useless. There are two main types of loss of use policy. External-accident policies only cover if the loss of use is due to accidents caused by external agents. This excludes disabilities and wear and tear. Total loss of use, however, covers all sorts of disabilities.
For full loss of use, the insurer might need you to verify you’ve done everything possible to heal it. You may also need to prove the injury is irreversible.
Payment comes at either a flat rate, or a percentage of the horse’s total worth. Some insurance companies may reserve the right to take the horse off you in case of loss of use. Be careful.
Loss-of-use policies might also cancel all other insurances, such as mortality.
Notably, some insurers might insure stallions against fertility-affecting illnesses or injuries. This, too, will need tests for the insurance to pay out.
These apply when the horse causes harm to others. This is a good guarantee in case your horse injuries a third party. Much like car insurances, the insurer will cover the costs the third party have due to the accident. In some cases, this might be included in a houseowner’s policy, so you might need to check your other insurance policies before buying this.
This type of horse insurance is more useful to horses that show or are around lots of people, such as training or therapy horses.
Horse insurance is useful and quite important. To some people, this might not be as necessary, but for others it may be crucial. Make sure to follow these tips when choosing your horse insurance policies.