The decision to insure your horse is not always easy. Any horse is a financial investment and, like a home or a car, it is wise to protect that investment. Find an equine insurance plan that is right for you and your horse by following this checklist.
You may want to seek equine insurance if:
- You want to protect the money you've invested in your horse and his training
- You need medical coverage for possible injuries and illnesses to your horse.
- You may not be covered under a boarding facility's insurance policy.
Find the type of equine insurance you need:
Mortality coverage is usually an all-risks policy that covers a horse's death as a result of accident, illness, injury, humane destruction or transportation. This type of coverage often includes loss or death as a result of theft. Mortality coverage is the basic coverage required by equine insurance companies; you must purchase it before you can purchase any other plans. Some policies include emergency colic surgery costs as a bonus under the mortality plan.
- Major Medical
Major medical insurance can be added to a mortality policy. This type of insurance covers the cost of medical and surgical procedures, including diagnostics as a result of accident, illness, injury or disease. This type of insurance is rarely available for horses over age 15. Major medical can vary by what is or isn't covered, the cost of the deductible and the time frame for reporting a claim.
Many companies offer coverage for surgery only. This is occasionally available for older horses and usually does not have a deductible, though an annual limit of $5,000 is common.
- Loss of Use
In the event your horse becomes permanently unable to perform his insured use as a result of an accident, illness, injury or disease, this coverage pays 50 to 60 percent of his insured value. Read carefully. 'External injury loss-of-use' terminology is different from 'full loss-of-use.' A full loss-of-use policy will cover any injury that incapacitates your horse. External loss-of-use only covers accidents such as a trailer injury, being kicked by another horse or colliding with a cross-country jump. If your horse twists the wrong way in a canter depart and bows a tendon, you're not covered.
To apply for insurance:
- Fill out an application, which includes a statement of health for your horse.
- Read the fine print of a policy. Mortality coverage may be valid in only North America. International coverage is available for an additional premium. Some horse owners regularly give their own vaccinations or injectable medications such as Adequan?, but if your horse has an injury of dies as a result of an injection given by someone other than a licensed veterinarian, you may not be covered. A mysterious disappearance or escape, preexisting conditions such as navicular or nonapproved procedures or surgery are often not covered events.
- Submit your horse's information to a wide variety of agencies in order to compare rates and coverage. There are hundreds of agencies to choose from.
If you need to file a claim:
- Become familiar with that company's claim rules. Most require immediate notification for claims and pre-certification for surgery and provide a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year toll-free telephone number allowing you to do so.
- Immediately contact your insurance company if your horse dies. A post-mortem examination should be scheduled with your veterinarian. Prompt notice is essential and failure to comply can result in loss of coverage.
- Read and understand your policy and, when in doubt, ask about it. You need to understand your coverage.
Read a more extensive account of equine insurance for your dressage horse, featuring leading experts in the field, in the July 2002 issue of Dressage Today.