Equine Insurance

Equine Insurance

by Charlene B. Cook DVM
I was wrong.
I thought that insurance was always for the expensive horse. The horse that costs thousands of dollars, the kind of horse that only rich people could afford to buy.
I was wrong, very wrong.
We all know about life insurance, home and property insurance but what about horse insurance? What if you operate a boarding or training stable? What about buying a stallion or a mare in foal? Can those horses be covered?
The answer is yes in most cases.
There are many different types of insurance policies available for horse owners.
Letís go over these different policy types.
1.    Mortality and Theft: This policy insures the value of your horse for theft or death from accidents, illness or disease. Per-existing conditions are excluded from coverage. This is a base coverage required before additional coverage (extensions) can be added to your policy.
2.     Major Medical /Surgical; This policy pays for the medical care of the horse if he becomes sick or injured.
3.    Surgical: This coverage covers the cost of the surgical procedures only; it does not pay for medical care.
4.    Liability: This coverage protects you against legal claims in the event that your horse causes bodily injury or property damage to someone on or off your premises. Many different policies are available for private farms, commercial operations, show horses and club coverage.
5.    Loss of Use : This coverage is an extension that relates to insuring against the development of a physical condition which would render to horse permanently unable to perform at his intended use.
6.    Reproductive: A special extension available for stallion and broodmare owners.
7.    Expectant foal: This policy covers a maresí pregnancy beginning at a specified time in the pregnancy up through foaling.
8.    Special Policies: Theses custom policies can include transpiration via air or land, short term coverage, lease coverage, and specified perils such as fire, lightning and natural disasters.

So why you should even consider insurance for you horse. Letís say that you bought a horse for your family, Heís a great horse. Everyone enjoys taking care of the horse and your son or daughter has recently started showing and is really gaining confidence and skill. The horse is now truly a member of the family. One day you get the dreaded call from the barn that the horse is down in his stall in a lot of pain. The veterinarian comes and determines that the horse has a twisted intestine and needs colic surgery to survive. Colic surgery estimates generally run $5000 and up. You are faced with the dilemma of paying the costs of the surgery and aftercare or euthanizing the horse. If you have mortality insurance you can get reimbursement for the cost of the horse. If you had medical & surgical coverage the horse could have the surgery.
 Letís look at another scenario. The horse comes in from the pasture limping. He has a few days off but remains lame. The veterinarian determines that the lameness is coming from the foot but radiographs are negative. He needs an MRI to determine the nature of the injury and what course of action to take. An MRI estimate approaches $2000. The horse is in no danger of dying yet he is unusable with his current lameness. With medical and surgical coverage he can have the MRI and you pay only the deductible.
Hereís another case. Your daughter has had a horse now all through high school and received a scholarship to college to be on the Equestrian Team. Her gelding has been a tried and true performer but he hasnít been quite right for the past few weeks. An examination shows a meniscal tear in his stifle. He will never be sound again. Once again heís in no danger of dying, He is comfortable walking and grazing in the pasture but he cannot be sued in competition. A Loss of Use policy would pay for the value of the horse because he can no longer perform at this intended use.
There are dozens of companies that sell equine insurance. Like any type of insurance it is very important that you read and understand the details of your policy.
Some types of policies will require a veterinary examination. This generally depends upon the type of policy and the amount of coverage. The owner must inform the veterinarian at the time of the examination if there are any health problems. The owner is responsible for the cost of the examination. In the event of a claim the veterinarian will be required to complete documentation so that the owner can be reimbursed. Any costs associated with the completion of the forms are the responsibility of the owner.
The insurance carrier will require a certain level of communication from the policy holder. In the event that the horse becomes sick or injured the company must be notified immediately. Should you fail to notify the company the policy may be declared invalid. The company may also insist upon a necropsy examination in the event of the horsesí death if the circumstances are unknown or suspicious.
Certain breed and /or disciplines may render horses ineligible to specific policies. Some policies have age restrictions.
I donít sell equine insurance. I have no relationship with any insurance broker. What I do know is that the current economic climate has forced many of us to rethink our choices. In what is being called the ďnew normalĒ we have to reassess our expenditures. As a practitioner we are frequently seeing nice horses that need care or treatment for treatable conditions and the family finances arenít there. It creates heartaches for the horse owner. So, Iíve taken a fresh look at equine insurance.
Here are some average premiums
Mortality/Theft Annual Base Premium
$340 for 10K
$240 for 7K
$170 for 3 K
$170 for 2.5 K

Major Medial Annual Premium
$450 with a deductible of 15% or $250 for 15K
$250 with a deductible of $250 for 7.5K

Emergency Surgical Premium
$125 for 5K
$205 for 15K

Keep in mind that rates vary by age, breed, use and history, contact individual agencies for specific estimates. On average, a minimum mortality policy with medical and surgical coverage with an approximate yearly premium of $500 per year would cover most horses for the most common type of catastrophic events.
I encourage horse owners to look at this more closely to see if it might be the right decision for you. I have listed several equine insurance carriers. There are many carriers and this list is by no means inclusive. Be sure to read the fine print. Make sure that you understand all of the terminology. If your horse is insured make sure that you comply with the policy and that your veterinarian is aware that the horse is insured. Make sure that the horsesí caretakers are aware that the horse is insured especially if you are going to be out of town.
Great American Insurance Company
4414 SW College Rd, Suite 1422
Ocala, FL 34474

Markel Insurance Company
P.O. Box 3870
Glen Allen, VA 23058-3870

Marshall & Sterling
110 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Taylor Harris Insurance
P.O. Box 449
Middleburg, VA 20118

One last thought, please save this date. Saturday March 19, 2011 CGES will be hosting a client education seminar focused on DENTISTRY. We'll have live demonstrations, are own movie theater, contests and prizes. Watch your mailbox for more information.

As always thank you for reading.