Are you ready for unexpected equine medical bills? Equine insurance can help safeguard your checkbook against financial loss if your horse is severely injured, colics, or dies. However, shopping for coverage can be overwhelming. I’ve broken down some key considerations and questions you’ll need to answer as you look at horse insurance policies. Here are some important things to know as you start researching horse insurance.
How much insurance should you have?
Most insurance companies will give you a ton of different options, but the recommendation is to purchase what you can afford. The company can also provide insurance coverage recommendations based on your location and the horse’s use. Costs vary based on the company, but you might see a formula like this when you ask about the right amount of coverage:
Annual Premium = Percentage based on Use x Value of Horse
If you use your horse for trail riding, the insurance company might place a 2.5% Percentage Based on Use value. If your horse is worth $10,000, your formula would be:
$250 = 2.5% x $10,000
The percentage will vary depending on the level of risk for your horse. For example, a pleasure horse living at home will have a lower risk of injury compared to a racehorse.
These formulas are designed as guidelines and can be adjusted based on your needs.
Equine insurance has a policy term of 12 months unless otherwise noted in the policy documents.
What questions will the insurance company ask?
When you reach out to an insurance provider, they will need to know information about your horse, its health, and its intended use. Here are some questions to expect on the call:
- How much did you pay for the horse?
- When did you buy the horse?
- How old is the horse?
- Have they had any major injuries or colic?
- What is the intended use? (pleasure, showing, etc.)
- How much coverage do you want/need?
What questions should you ask when looking for horse insurance?
As you begin your search for equine insurance, ask barn-mates and other horse friends who they recommend. I recommend working with a company and underwriters who are familiar with livestock coverage. This will make things much easier for you.
Here are some other questions to ask when you are interviewing new insurance companies:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Are the customer reviews good?
- Do they offer the policies and coverage your need?
- What is the claims process?
- Do they offer a 24/7 emergency contact?
Types of Equine Insurance Coverage
There are many different types of insurance policies, which vary in price and coverage. The good news is you can almost always find the insurance coverage that fits your needs and budget. The bad news—the number of options feels like information overload. The most common types include Major Medical, Surgical, Full Mortality, Limited Mortality, Loss of Use, Colic, and Personal Liability. I’ve broken down some of the pros and cons for each of these for you.
Major Medical insurance is similar to your own medical insurance. It covers preventative and diagnostic veterinary costs and vet bills for illness and injury. Just like your medical insurance, there is a deductible and an annual coverage limit. Many Major Medical policies will carry exceptions for pre-existing conditions, so make sure to read the coverage clearly. For example, if your horse suffers from laminitis prior to the insurance starting, you may not have coverage for any laminitis treatments moving forward.
Full Mortality can only be purchased with Major Medical coverage. Full mortality will pay out a predetermined amount if the horse passes away and your major medical policy was utilized. The insurance company wants to ensure all efforts were made to save the horse. Some of the mortality policies will also apply if your horse is stolen and not recovered.
Limited Mortality coverage is a good option if you don’t want to purchase Major Medical coverage as well. This is usually recommended for horses who travel frequently or are in higher-risk situations, such as broodmares or competition horses. A predetermined amount is paid if the horse dies or is stolen.
Loss of Use
Loss of use might seem like a good idea because it is budget-friendly. However, I will caution you to read this policy carefully before moving forward. This policy will pay a predetermined amount if the horse loses the ability to do what you purchased it for. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to prove loss of use, and it is traditionally not meant for pleasure horses. Some companies also require the horse to be put down before dispursing payment, so make sure to read this carefully!!
Colic Surgery and Surgical Coverage
Colic surgery and surgical coverage are two different options to help you afford emergency surgery for your horse. Colic surgery can easily range from $7,000-$20,000, depending on your location and the severity of your horse’s case. Ask your insurance provider about the deductible and required process prior to getting this coverage. Some companies require pre-authorization before the surgery itself, while others just need the veterinarian’s report.
Personal liability covers human medical and personal property expenses if your horse injures someone or damages property. It’s a bit scary, but most horse owners opt out of this coverage. However, if you are boarding or traveling with your horse, it is something to consider because your horse is exposed to so many people.
Frequently Asked Questions About Equine Insurance
Do I need horse insurance?
Insurance is optional. The decision really comes down to your level of comfort with risk and what you plan to do with your horse. If you keep your horse at home and have a large emergency fund, you may opt out of equine insurance. However, you should research your equine insurance policy options if you travel with your horse and are worried about unexpected emergency veterinary fees.
Do I need horse rider insurance?
If you let other people ride your horse, whether in a lesson, on a trail, or at a show, I’d highly recommend personal liability insurance. We all know unexpected things happen with our horses, and liability insurance will protect you if someone is injured. Personal liability coverage will also protect you from property damage claims.
What is the best horse insurance carrier?
This is a tough question because every horseback rider is unique and requires something different. I’d suggest asking other horse owners and researching online to find the best insurance company and agent for your specific needs. Also, remember that you don’t need to get all your coverage from one company. You can break up your coverage over a few companies.
Can I use pet insurance for my horse?
A traditional pet insurance policy will not cover horses or livestock. Make sure to look for equine-specific insurance.