Most of us are no strangers to having insurance. We insure our vehicles, our homes, our property, and in many cases, ourselves. But what about our horses? As valuable and loved investments, it only makes sense to insure them as well.
Insurance coverage for horses can help to ease a number of stressful situations that may happen. For example, if your horse should die unexpectedly, be stolen, become injured, or possibly injure someone else, an insurance policy can cover the financial burden so you at least have one less thing to worry about.
If you’ve been considering insuring a horse and would like to learn more about the types of equine coverage available as well as what horse insurance costs, read on.
1) Personal Liability
Personal liability horse insurance is similar to the liability coverage in a homeowner’s policy, protecting you in the event that your horse injures someone or damages property. Liability insurance protects your peace of mind if your horses spend time around people besides yourself, such as if you board your horse at a stable.
The average price for $500,000 worth of coverage is $250 annually and covers up to four horses. Many insurance companies charge an additional $40-$50 per additional horse.
If you keep your horses at home, however, you may not need to purchase this type of policy, as it may be covered in your homeowner’s policy, so check with your insurance company first.
2) Equine Mortality/Theft
Losing a horse suddenly due to illness or an accident or having them stolen are both scenarios no horse owner wants to face.
But the truth is, both happen, and aside from the emotional strain this can place on the owner, the financial loss can be devastating. Having a mortality/theft policy ensures that you will be reimbursed for the cost of your horse.
New horses can be insured for their purchase price, but as a horse becomes more valuable through accumulated earnings, a show record, breeding income, and/or training expenses, the horse’s insured value can be adjusted.
Mortality/theft policies come with either limited or full coverage. As the name implies, limited coverage will have exclusions. Many people purchase limited coverage when special circumstances place their horse at risk of an accident, such as when shipping a horse cross country.
Full coverage, on the other hand, is comprehensive, covering death due to acts of God (lightning strike or flooding, for example) as well as humane euthanaisa and other causes of death. However, keep in mind that if your horse is older than 15, you may have difficulty finding full mortality coverage.
Also important to note: mortality/theft policy is required before additional coverage can be purchased. The annual premium will be based on a percentage of your horse’s estimated value (usually between 2.5 and 4%) and minimum policy prices can vary.
3) Named Perils Mortality
Not all insurance companies offer this type of coverage, but Named Perils (also known as Specified or Restricted Perils) covers specific accidental causes of death such as fire, lightning, theft, transport, drowning, attack by wild animals, accidental shooting, or being struck by a vehicle.
This type of coverage usually does not cover death from illness and is often used when covering older horses, a large number of animals on a single policy, or when the cost of full mortality isn’t economically feasible.
The benefit of this type of policy is that the cost is fairly low, at as little as $25 a year for $10,000 worth of coverage.
4) Major Medical
As most of us know, the cost of equine veterinary care can be quite high, especially when it comes to certain treatments and surgeries.
Purchasing a major medical insurance policy on your horse can help you avoid the difficult decision of whether you can afford treatment or not, however. Just as the name implies, horse medical insurance covers medical and surgical treatment for any new illness or injury the horse incurs. It usually covers diagnostics, medications, surgery, as well as postoperative care.
You can also save a little money by opting for a slightly cheaper “surgical-only” policy, which typically just covers the cost of surgery and postoperative care. This type of policy will not cover diagnostics or hospital costs occurring before surgery.
Be aware that horse health insurance policies do not cover care for pre-existing conditions or for things like vaccines or dentistry. They also do not cover elective or cosmetic surgeries or treatment for developmental or congenital birth defects. Also often excluded are alternative therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, or magnetic therapy, but some companies may review treatments on a case by case basis.
Premiums for major medical are determined by the policy limit you choose. For example, a major medical policy with a $5,000 limit averages $200 a year while a $7,500 limit is around $340 a year.
Another thing to be aware of is that if you purchase this type of policy, you will be required to provide any care necessary to save the horse. If you choose to euthanize your horse instead of opting for a potentially life-saving surgery (such as colic surgery), the insurance company is not obligated to pay. However, if steps are taken to save the horse and the horse doesn't survive, the insurance company is obligated to pay.
It’s important to note that all major medical policies have deductibles. On average, the deductible is $300, though this could vary between insurance companies.
5) Loss of Use
Loss of use coverage pays a percentage of the horse’s value if an injury leaves him permanently unable to perform in the discipline named in the policy. In some cases, it can be used for breeding should a horse suffer loss of fertility.
With this type of policy, a complete veterinary evaluation is generally required before coverage can begin. Another option is the accidental loss of use coverage which exclusively covers accidental injuries such as a trailer accident.
However, if you are considering a loss of use policy, always read the fine print. Many loss of use policies give the insurance company the right to take possession of the horse after the claim is paid. Some companies, however, offer two choices: a higher reimbursement if the insurer keeps the horse or a lower reimbursement if the owner keeps the horse.
Older horses, as well as horses with a medical history of something like recurrent colic, may not be eligible for loss of use coverage.
6) Accident Sickness Disease (ASD) for Stallions
This type of insurance is specifically designed for breeding stallions. If your stallion loses the ability to breed due to accident, illness, or disease, an ASD policy will compensate the owner for the stallion’s insured value.
However, before coverage can begin, you will be required to demonstrate the horse’s viability as a stallion, documenting successful breedings for at least one breeding season. A semen evaluation by your veterinarian is also required. If your stallion is no longer able to breed for some reason, a claim can be submitted, but the insurance company will require that he be gelded before they pay out.
Some horse insurance companies also offer a policy that solely covers equine colic and/or colic surgery. This policy must be purchased in conjunction with mortality coverage and typically pays 80%-100% of customary veterinary fees associated with colic and/or colic surgery. The specifics will vary from company to company.
Colic has been named the #1 medical reason for death in horses, so investing in GI protection is important.
Another form of “GI tract insurance” can be found through feeding a daily, high-quality probiotic such as Fullbucket’s Regular Strength Probiotics. With 25 billion CFUs of Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast strain of probiotic that is safe to use during antibiotic therapy, L-Glutamine to maintain a healthy intestinal tract, and prebiotics to support healthy gut microflora, this is a no-brainer insurance policy.
It’s safe for everyday use and, along with appropriate diet and management, supports normal digestive health in order to prevent problems like colic in the first place.
Choosing the Right Equine Health Insurance for Your Needs
When searching for a good equine insurance company, ask your veterinarian for recommendations since they often deal with insurance companies and know which ones are most reputable and well liked by their clients.
Of course, other horse owners can also be a great resource as well. When inquiring with the equine insurance companies themselves, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the policy or policies you’re interested in and the company itself. After all, you’re spending money on the coverage, so make sure it is something you feel great about.