Horse ownership is a big responsibility and often comes with its own set of challenges and risks. Horses can sometimes be unpredictable in nature and accidents can happen anywhere at any time. They are also prone to a variety of health issues such as colic, laminitis, and respiratory issues which can cause veterinary bills to add up quickly. This is where specialised equine insurance comes in. Equestrian insurance is a niche type of coverage that provides financial protection for horse owners, horse riders and even carriage drivers in the event of accident, injury, damage or illness. In this guide, we will aim to give you a better understanding of equine insurance including the types of coverage available and how to choose the right policy for you and your horse or donkey.
Types of Equine Insurance Coverage
Equine insurance policies can vary, however, most policies will provide coverage in one or more of these areas:
- Death Insurance: This coverage provides you with financial compensation in the event loss of your horse or donkey due to an illness, injury or accident occurring after the policy commenced, including emergency euthanasia by a vet. The amount claimable is the sum insured or the market value of your horse at the time of the loss.
- Veterinary Fee Insurance: This insurance is the most claimed section of a horse insurance policy, as it provides coverage for veterinary bills related to lameness, illness, disease or injuries which first appear after the policy has commenced. The types of things included are the costs of investigations, diagnostic work and treatments which can also include emergency surgery or hospitalisation.
- Permanent Incapacity (Loss of Use Coverage): Loss of use coverage gives you financial cover if your horse is no longer able to perform its current use such as riding, competing (i.e. eventing, dressage or show jumping or showing) and carriage driving. This must be as a result of an injury or illness that occurred after the policy commenced and renders the horse permanently unable to perform as it once did.
- Liability Coverage: This coverage provides you with protection in the event that your horse or donkey causes injury or damage to another person or property. This may include cover for legal fees, court costs and any compensation awarded for the damages awarded to the injured party. It is known as Legal liability, Third Party Liability or Public liability.
- Saddlery & Equipment: Most policies allow you to add cover for tack and equipment so that it is covered if stolen or damaged during use. This can extend to horse-drawn carriages, harnesses or horse trailers.
Choosing the Right Insurance Policy
Deciding on the right insurance policy for you and your horse can be a difficult task, especially for novice horse owners. Here are some of the key factors to consider when selecting a policy
- Costs: Equine insurance can be quite expensive, so it is important to consider if it fits within your budget. Premiums can vary depending on the level of coverage, the age and breed of the horse as well as any pre-existing conditions.
- Pre-purchase vettings: Check what vetting requirements the insurance company have in place, as these differ per company and are dependent on the age, value and intended use of your potential new purchase.
- Coverage: As mentioned above, equine insurance can vary in terms of the coverage provided. It may be that you can mix and match policies to create a more comprehensive level of cover depending on your needs.
- Excess: As with other types of insurance, equine insurance policies will have an excess on at least the veterinary fee section of cover. This is the amount you are responsible for paying before the insurance coverage kicks in. It’s important to understand the excess amount i.e. is this a fixed amount per claim or a percentage amount of the total invoices, and how the amount of the excess which you select affects the overall cost of the policy.
- Exclusions: Equine Insurance policies will have exclusions which are specific to scenarios or conditions that are not covered by the policy. It is important to understand these before purchasing a policy and can be found under either ‘exclusions’ or ‘what is not covered by the policy’. You will find that there are pre-existing condition clauses in most policies, which means that any symptoms that have presented prior to the policy commencing will not be covered. In addition, based on your horse’s history, there may be specific exclusions which apply and are listed on the schedule of insurance.
Tips for Maintaining Your Equine Insurance Policy
Once you have selected the policy that suits your needs, it’s crucial to maintain the policy to ensure that it provides the necessary coverage.
- Pay premiums on time: Make sure to pay your premiums on time to avoid a lapse in your coverage, which may affect your ability to claim. Most companies offer different ways to pay your premium from credit cards to monthly instalments which can help spread the cost over the year. However, bear in mind that you are often not buying monthly coverage but an annual policy. The insurance company will require payment of the annual premium if you make a claim.
- Update the policy: If there are any changes to the horse’s use, ownership, livery, health and/or performance or any other factors that will impact the policy, be sure to update the policy accordingly.
- Keep records: Make sure to keep accurate and up-to-date records of your horse or donkey’s medical history including veterinary visits, treatments, and medication. This information can be useful in the event you need to make a claim. However, if you need to make a claim you will have to submit the horse’s full veterinary history during your ownership as part of this process.
- Vaccinations and routine medical care: Make sure that you comply with the policy requirements for routine care such as tetanus vaccinations, routine dental care and worming treatments, as failure to keep these up to date might void your claim.
- Communication: Communicating with your insurance provider is key to a good relationship with them: they can advise you on options of cover, possible exclusions and costings when taking out your policy. In addition, if you need to file a claim be sure to contact them promptly and provide any documentation and information requested.
Equine Insurance in Summary
As with anything, it’s worth taking preventative measures where possible. While equine insurance can provide you with financial protection and peace of mind, it’s also important to take steps to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. This can include regular check-ups, maintaining dental health, good nutrition, plenty of exercise, as well as the correct training and equipment for riding, handling or driving your horse.
By understanding the different types of coverage available and selecting the right policy for your horse, you can ensure that your horse is protected and that you are prepared for any unexpected events. Additionally, maintaining your policy and taking preventive measures can help minimise the risk of accidents and injuries and ensure that your horse remains healthy and happy. You can read our Equine Insurance FAQs for some additional information on commonly asked questions.
Carriagehouse Insurance is a specialist equine insurance provider, supplying coverage for Horses, Ponies, Foals, Donkeys, and Carriages including Harnesses and the Tack. Contact us to discuss your individual needs and to receive a free quote.