Tailored Cover For All Situations
Horse insurance was first introduced in the racing world. Subsequently in the post-war era, a new market developed as people began to enjoy more leisure time. Gradually, as horseowners’ knowledge expanded, they demanded more choice.
Horses are expensive and unpredictable and riding is not without risk, so to contemplate owning an uninsured horse is foolhardy in the extreme.
With good insurance your horse will receive the best treatment and care and you won’t have to worry about the costs. And, although most of us like to think we’re invincible, we could have an accident at any time, which might result in loss of earnings and extra expenses which could trigger the need for some emergency borrowing.
Levels Of Cover Available
There is a wide range of cover available from a variety of insurers. Most policies are all variations on several basic themes:
Mortality and theft
This is the most common cover and forms the basis for most policies. If your horse is killed, has to be put down on humane grounds, is stolen, killed in transport or strays, you should be able to claim for the amount that your horse has been insured for.
Loss of use
If your horse can no longer perform the discipline he was insured for due to an accident, sickness, disease or an external injury, you could claim 60-100% of the sum insured. This is called loss of use insurance. To fulfil such a claim, most insurers will require a full, five-stage vet certificate, sometimes including x-rays.
Most permanent loss of use claims result from sickness and disease, so look out for policies limited to claims resulting only from accidental external injury.
Loss of use is a contentious area and making a claim can be a long and frustrating process. You must prove the loss occurred within the policy period and is not a result of age, behavioural problems, or lack of ability. It can take up to a year to determine one of these cases.
As a result of new scientific discoveries, the growing popularity of alternative treatments and the rising costs of drugs, more horses are now insured for veterinary fees. In the long run, vet fees insurance cover may save you hundreds of pounds, so it could be worth investing in.
As the cost and variety of veterinary treatment increases, so does the possible price of getting your horse well again. Vet fee cover pays for non-routine veterinary bills (after deduction of any excess). Check the annual claim limit and the incident claim limit. It is pointless having an annual limit of £3000 if the maximum you can claim per incident is £500. Most big vet bills come from a single incident rather than lots of little ones.
Some policies cover complementary therapies and remedial farriery as long as they are recommended by a vet. If you are willing to try alternative treatments, a policy like this is well worth considering.
Make sure you are aware of the ‘per incident’ limits on your policy and look out for excess amount. This means, in the event of a claim, you’ll have to pay towards the costs.
Public liability insurance is relatively cheap and will protect you against damages if your horse causes an accident or damages someone else’s property and a claim is made against you.
Personal accident insurance pays a lump sum if the rider dies or is permanently disabled while riding, driving, leading or handling an insured horse. It’s worth checking if the policy includes dental treatment as not every company offers this. Also, check whether dental cover is just for the rider or includes the horse.
Standard tack cover
Tack insurance usually includes accidental damage, fire and theft.
Most insurers also offer horse trailer insurance as part of a package or as a stand-alone policy. This usually includes accidental damage, fire and theft.
Choosing a policy
Every owner has different requirements, depending on their horse’s age, his value and the disciplines he’s required to do. Make a list of the situations where you may need financial assistance in the future, such as if your horse is sill or you have an accident, and then begin compare quotes to find the policy that best suits your needs.
Many insurers offer standard packages which are often aimed at the lower value horse. These generally include all risks of mortality and theft, tack, vet fees (you’ll find the amount is usually limited in standard packages), legal liability and personal accident. It’s easier and quicker to buy a package but you could end up paying for cover which you’re not likely to need for your horse.
Tailor-made policies are designed specifically for each individual customer by the insurer.
Veteran horse insurance
Most insurers offer veteran polices created for older horses, usually over the age of 15. These are similar packages but usually only cover vet fees and death as a result of accidental external injury. Few companies are willing to insure an older horse for illness or disease.