19 steps to finding the best horse insurance

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Posted By: jonathan on 08/03/2021

19 steps to finding the best horse insurance

Our step by step guide on how to find the best horse insurance, takes an in depth look at how horse insurance works, what a horse insurance policy covers, what a policy doesn’t cover and how to go about finding the right equine insurance for your horse.

What is horse insurance?

Losing a valuable horse, because of a fatal injury or theft, is not only heart breaking but can also be extremely expensive. The price of medical attention required to treat such large animals is also expensive and can run into thousands of pounds.

Primarily, equine insurance indemnifies you for the value of your horse against, death, theft or straying, however it is a little bit more complicated than that, as there are several other important areas which horse insurance can cover.

What Does Horse Insurance cover?

Death by Illness or Accident

If your horse dies because of an injury or illness, or has to be put to sleep as the result of an injury or illness, you will receive the market value or the sum insured whichever is the lower.

(The market value is normally the purchase price that you paid for the horse, or if your horse has increased in value, the equivalent value of a horse of the same breed, age, bloodline, sex, and ability as your horse just before the incident occurred. You must have increased the sum insured accordingly prior to the incident and paid for any increase in premium).

If your horse needs to be put to sleep, most Insurance policies require your horses condition to meet the BEVA (British Equine Veterinary Association) “Guidelines for the destruction of horses under all risks mortality insurance (1996)”. More information can be found on the BEVA website.

  1. BEVA considers that the decision to advise an owner to destroy a horse on humane grounds must be the responsibility of the attending veterinary surgeon, based on his or her assessment of the clinical signs at the time of examination, regardless of whether or not the horse is insured. The veterinary surgeon’s primary responsibility is to ensure the welfare of the horse.
  2. BEVA recognises that there may be occasions when the attending veterinary surgeon will advise euthanasia but that such a decision may not necessarily lead to a successful insurance claim. It is important that all parties are aware of this potential conflict of interests before a horse is destroyed. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure compliance with any policy contract with an insurer.
  3. As a guide, BEVA considers that an affected horse will need to meet the following requirements to satisfy a claim under a mortality insurance policy: “That the insured horse sustains an injury or manifests an illness or disease that is so severe as to warrant immediate destruction to relieve incurable and excessive pain and that no other options of treatment are available to that horse at that time.” If immediate destruction cannot be justified then the attending veterinary surgeon should provide effective first aid treatment before:

    (i) Requesting that the insurance company be contacted or, failing that,

    (ii) Arranging for a second opinion from another veterinary surgeon.

  4. Insurance companies frequently require some form of examination after death. Owners should be made aware that it is in their best interests to retain the carcass, or appropriate parts, for this purpose. The horse should be positively identified.
  5. It should be stressed that in the event of a horse being destroyed on grounds which justify a claim it is still the responsibility of the insured to prove that all policy terms and conditions are complied with and were current at the time of the incident.

Most insurers have an age limit at which time they will not cover your horse against death by illness and at the same time they will transfer your horse to a Veteran Horse Insurance policy designed for older horses.

Insurers recommend that if your horse doesn’t need to be put to sleep immediately, that you contact your vet and get confirmation that destruction of your horse meets the BEVA guidelines.

If this happens to a horse on loan that you have insured, you will need to provide a signed copy of the loan agreement and passport showing the owners name.

Theft or straying

If your horse is stolen or goes missing during the policy year, you will receive the market value of the horse or the sum insured whichever is lower. Your horse must be missing for at least 90 days and you will be expected to advertise the loss of your horse (Some Insurers will pay for advertising).

Emergency Veterinary fees

An important area of cover is veterinary fees. The majority of horse insurance policies give you the option to include the cost of vet fees to treat an illness or injury to your horse.

Although there are three types of policy you should be aware of, all three will only cover each incident for up to 12 months or the benefit limit whichever comes first.

The first type of policy is Accident Only Cover. As the name suggests the policy only covers vet fees in respect of accidents or injuries only, up to a benefit limit (between £1000 and £1,500) per condition.

The second type of policy covers vet fees in respect of accidents and illnesses up to a benefit limit per condition (between £1,500 and £6,000).

The third type of policy provides an overall benefit limit per year (between £1,250 and £7,500).

For example if your policy was the second type with a benefit per condition of £3,000 and your horse was unfortunate enough to suffer three separate conditions costing £3,000 each, under this policy they would be fully covered (subject to any excess).

If your policy was the third type and offered an annual benefit limit of £6,000, it would only be sufficient to cover two of the claims). You can see it is important to make sure you have a policy that provides enough cover.

Colic is a medical term used to define an abdominal pain in horses. There are numerous causes of colic and symptoms can range from very mild to life threatening. In fact Colic is one of the most common causes of death in horses, although improvements in treatments and diagnosis makes prognosis much better than it used to be.

Severe cases of colic require early diagnosis and surgical treatment, to give your horse the best chance of survival. Several horse insurers have realised this fact and automatically increase vet fees cover (or offer it as an option)to make sure you are completely covered.

If you are concerned about Colic, selecting a policy that includes this option can give peace of mind.

Complementary treatments

Aside from traditional veterinary medicine, there are many additional treatments that has been proven to speed up your horses recovery from illness or injury. As a result the majority of insurers extend vet fees, to cover complementary treatments such as Acupuncture, Chiropractic Manipulation, Herbal Medicines, Homeopathy, neutraceuticals, osteopathy and physiotherapy, as well as specialist farrier work and hydrotherapy.

Some equine policies include this as part of the overall vet fee limit and some don’t, so it is important to check your policy to whether it is included or can be added.

Dental Treatment

Look for a policy that will cover dental costs as the consequence of an illness or accident. Some Horse Insurance policies specifically exclude dental cover or offer it as an option.

Disposal

Where a claim for death due to illness or accident has been made and accepted, most equine insurance policies will cover the cost of disposal. Some Insurers go a stage further and cover the costs of humane destruction if it is necessary. Cover ranges from £150 – £300.

Third Party Liability Insurance

If property is damaged, someone is killed or injured as a result of an incident involving your horse (or if insured, your horse trailer), for which you are legally responsible, this section will pay for;

Compensation including the claimants costs and expenses and;
Your legal costs and expenses for defending a claim against you.

Most Insurers cover you for one million pounds, with some offering cover up to five million pounds.

Personal Accident

If you are riding your horse (or anyone riding your horse with your permission) and are injured, die, or have to stay in hospital as a result of an accident, many insurance policies provide a benefit that covers death, permanent blindness, loss of limbs, temporary or permanent disability. Dental treatment is also covered and some companies include a benefit for each day you are in hospital.

Permanent Loss of Use

For many, horse ownership is a way to improve riding ability and the chance to take part in competitions, whether it’s dressage, show jumping, eventing, or endurance. As you and your horse’s abilities improve, so the value of your horse increases.

Imagine the loss of time and money if you were suddenly unable to ride your horse. The majority of horse insurance policies offer Permanent Loss of Use or Permanent incapacity cover, where a percentage of your horses value is paid out, if your horse sustains an injury or illness which results in your horses permanent incapacity.

You can normally choose to cover 60%, 80% or 100% of the value of your horse (The higher the percentage the higher the premium). Most Insurers have a maximum age at which they will no longer offer this cover.

Saddlery and Tack

A mid-range saddle will cost over £1,000. Add to that the bridle, saddle pads, tendon and fetlock boots, lunging equipment and any other riding tack normally used on your horse and suddenly you are looking at several thousand pounds worth of kit.

    Most policies offer the option to cover your saddlery and tack against theft, accidental loss, or damage and will pay

  1. The cost to repair your saddlery and tack if it is damaged, or
  2. The replacement value of your saddlery and tack if it is lost or stolen and less than 12 months old at the time of the incident, or
  3. The market value of your saddlery and tack if it is lost or stolen and greater than 12 months old at the time or loss.

If your tack is removed from the horse, it must be stored in a securely lock building.

Horse Trailer

Many Insurers offer the option of including cover for theft, accidental loss or damage to your horse trailer and will pay the cost of repair to return your horse trailer to the same condition it was before the incident, or
The market value of your horse trailer if it is stolen, lost or beyond repair.

What Horse Insurance policies do not cover

Whilst it is important to understand what your horse insurance policy covers, it is just as important that you understand what is excluded. Unfortunately this seems to be an area that is cause for many complaints, where a customer was unaware of a specific exclusion, or the fact that an excess was required.

It is absolutely crucial that you read the policy wording carefully, as each Insurer’s terms and conditions vary slightly. As with most Insurance policies, Horse Insurance is designed to provide protection against a possible predefined category of risks or events that may occur.

Horse Insurance isn’t designed to pay for known events, such as:

Pre-existing Medical Conditions: – These are generally described as;

An injury or illness that happened or first showed clinical signs before your horse’s cover commenced, or
The recurrence of any injury or illness that was sustained or contracted before the commencement of cover, or

An injury or illness that is caused by, relates to, or results from, an injury, illness or
clinical sign your horse had before cover commenced, or

An injury or illness that has the same diagnosis or clinical signs as an injury, illness or
clinical sign your horse had before cover commenced.

This exclusion applies in all cases regardless of whether the injury or illness presents in the same or different parts of the body

Pregnancy: – Horse Insurance policies exclude any cost associated with pregnancy, or giving birth, unless a veterinary surgeon has certified that it was necessary to the horses life.

Routine and Preventative Treatments: – Each Insurer varies in it’s conditions, but most exclude;

  1. The cost of any elective treatment, diagnostic procedure, or any treatment that you choose to have carried out that is not required to treat an injury or illness or any complications that may arise.
  2. Vaccination costs and any other preventative treatment.
  3. The normal cost for shoeing and the care of your horses feet or hooves.
  4. The cost of any treatment resulting from an injury or illness that happens whilst taking part in or is related to taking part in an activity which you are not insured to take part in.
  5. The replacement of saddlery and tack if it is stolen whilst left unattended.

Waiting Period: – The majority of Insurers will not cover any illness that showed symptoms or was contracted within the first 14 days of a new horse insurance policy.

Some Insurers have the same exclusions for injuries and some won’t cover any claim for the first 45 days, so make sure you check your policy carefully.

The Excess:

Every Horse Insurance policy includes a fixed amount that you must contribute to a claim. This is called the excess and ranges from £95 – £500, (The market average excess is £180) depending on the policy you choose.

Having a lower excess can make quite a difference. For example if you had to make three separate claims for £1000 each, and your excess was £95, your total contribution would be £285 (3x £95). If your excess was £500, your total contribution would be £1,500 (3x £500).

Some Insurers allow you to increase the standard excess in exchange for a lower premium.

What An Insurer Expects from you the Horse Owner

In return for providing insurance cover for your horse, the Insurer has certain requirements for you the horse owner. Whilst each Insurer differs slightly in their requirements the most common ones are:

  1. You must be the legal owner of the horse, or if the horse is on loan to you, you must be able to provide a legally signed loan agreement.
  2. You are expected to take all reasonable precautions to prevent liability, loss, theft, damage, or accidents.
  3. You must arrange and pay for your horse to be vaccinated against tetanus and equine influenza.
  4. Your horse must be wormed (or worm counted) at least twice a year, have regular and proper hoof care carried out by a registered Farrier or Equine Podiatrist and have regular dental attention by a vet or registered Equine Dental Technician.
  5. You must carry out any treatment recommended by your vet as soon as reasonably possible and take reasonable steps to prevent obesity of your horse.
  6. You agree to take proper care of your horse and keep them in good condition, to prevent bodily injury and loss or damage caused by others and to comply with the DEFRA code of Practice for the welfare of Horses and Ponies.
  7. Your Horse must be in sound health and free from Accidental External Injury, Injury and/or Illness at the start of any Insurance.

Do you need a Vetting Certificate for Horse Insurance?

If you find a horse that meets all your requirements, then it is sensible to ask a Vet to provide a medical/physical report. This is called a vetting report. Vetting reports are broken down into stages with a five stage vetting being the most comprehensive (and the most expensive).

A frequent issue is when a horse is vetted and purchased before making sure that it is fully insurable. It is recommended that you find a suitable Insurer first, find out what documentation is required (what level of vetting or x-rays) and send these off to the Insurer to make sure they will provide full cover before completing the purchase.

Each Insurer has their own specific vetting requirements, but generally the more expensive the horse, the more comprehensive the vetting that is required. This is an example of an Insurers vetting conditions.

The best horse insurance

A word about horse activities

A major rating factor in respect of horse insurance, is the type of activities you expect to use your horse for. Whether your horse is just put out to grass, used for a bit of hacking, or competes at advanced level dressage, the Insurer will need to be told exactly what your horse is used for, as this will affect the premium charged.

Horse Insurers deal with this in several different ways. Some Insurers combine the different activities into 2 or 3 groups, some Insurers spread the different activities over a larger number of groups and some Insurers quote for each type of use individually

You may save money by choosing activities which are split into smaller groups, or which are quoted for individually, but this does on what you want to use your horse for and you don’t want to end up paying for activities that you are not going to take part in.

If you don’t know exactly what you plan to use your horse for, then an Insurer who covers lots of activities under one category may be helpful and means that you don’t have to worry so much about whether you are covered or not.

It is important that you sit down and think carefully about the type of events, you are planning to attend with your horse. Horses at grass or just a simple hack would be the cheapest. At the other end of the scale are activities such as High Level Dressage, Endurance and Advanced Eventing as well as point to point.

Remember – If you use your horse for an activity that you are not covered for and have an accident, your Insurer may not cover you.

The Horse Insurance Policy Wording

It’s worth mentioning the policy wording. In other types of insurances, efforts have been made to simplify the policy wording and make it as customer friendly as possible. This is an important point, especially for insurance sold online, as you the customer have to take full responsibility for making sure you understand the terms and conditions and if you make a mistake there is little comeback on the Insurer.

Sadly this doesn’t appear to be the case with Horse Insurance. The majority of horse insurance policies are extremely poorly laid out and difficult to understand. To be fair horse insurance is a complicated product and has many terms and conditions which you need to understand and adhere to.

However the policies are still poor in comparison. Our recommendation is to pay even more attention and read the policy carefully, several times until you understand it completely. Use our guide to help with explanations and make sure you have cover that meets all your needs.

How to find the right horse insurance

There are approximately 50 different online horse insurance policies to choose from and whilst this is a small number compared to over 300 pet insurance policies, it can still be a daunting task to make sure you have chosen a suitable policy.

Following these steps may help speed up the process and help you to find a policy that meets all your requirements.

  1. Research your horse’s breed. Are they susceptible to specific medical conditions or problems and how much do they cost to treat? This can help you to choose the right level of vet fees cover.
  2. Decide on the type of cover you need; Third Party Liability Only Insurance, or including cover against death, and Theft or Straying. If you decide on vet fees cover do your opt for minimal cover (Accident Only) or Time Limited covering either per condition or providing an overall benefit limit?
  3. Make a list of what you plan to do with your horse and whether you are planning to take your horse abroad (Some Insurers will cover this).
  4. Make a list of extra policy benefits that are important to you. For many horse owners, insurance for death, theft and legal liability is adequate. However with increasing levels of theft of both tack and trailers and the rising cost of veterinary fees due to advances in veterinary medicine and techniques, many owners opt to take out additional policy sections to protect against these costs. If you are competing your horse at a high level, permanent loss of use cover should also be a consideration.
  5. Use our Horse Insurance Comparison engine to compare levels of cover and create a shortlist of 5 or so horse insurance policies that meet your requirements.
  6. Visit the Insurer websites direct to obtain quotations.
  7. Don’t just get a quote based on your horse’s current age. Obtain quotes for a range of ages, so you get a good idea how much that Company is likely to charge you as your horse gets older.
  8. Once you have a solid shortlist, it’s time to continue with the research. Look at your insurers experience in handling claims. Some companies out-source all administration, while others are dedicated to equine insurance and have their own in-house claims team. It doesn’t matter how good the cover is if you have trouble making a claim!
  9. Are the staff knowledgeable and helpful?
  10. Is the paperwork, in particular the policy wording as well as any terms and conditions easy to understand and written in plain English?
  11. Does the Insurer have a good reputation for settling claims? (check out customer reviews)
  12. Will the Insurer still offer cover as your horse gets older and up to what age?
  13. What paperwork does the Insurer require? Horses medical history, veterinary certificate, additional vetting reports, x-rays etc.
  14. We have carried out a lot of the research for you and these can be found in our Horse Insurance reviews section.
  15. How easy is it to get hold of your insurer? A good indication of service levels is how easy it is to get a response from your Horse Insurer. Look for companies that use Live Chat, are there any complaints about poor communication or administration?
  16. What reputation does your insurer have for increasing premiums? Can you find any evidence for un-realistic premium increases? Remember that you want a long term relationship, not to keep switching Insurers at renewal time.
  17. Read the policy and check the exclusions.Make sure you understand any terms and conditions.
  18. Armed with this information, select the horse insurance policy that offers the cover you need at the best price.
  19. Finally the Insurer to find out what documentation they require and send this to them to make sure they will still insure your horse.

We have a spent many hours researching and comparing horse insurance policies and hope you have found this guide helpful and informative. Feel free to share this guide with your horsey friends!, family and riding colleagues.

Insurance can be complicated and if there is anything in this guide you don’t understand, or have a specific query about horse insurance, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to assist you, or at the very least point you in the right direction.

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