These notes have been prepared by us to
assist owners in understanding the various types of insurance cover that
are available for their horses.
Purpose of Insurance
The old adage ‘don’t purchase a horse unless you
can afford the loss and the purchase price’ may still be correct
but other unforeseen costs may arise.
The purchase of any insurance cover is to protect the policyholder against
unexpected loss. With horses this loss may take various forms including
accidental injury, death, veterinary treatment or injury to third parties.
There are many types of policy cover available and these will vary from
company to company. As a general rule the owner gets what they pay for
and the difference in premiums charged by the insurance usually reflects
the different levels of cover. It is, of course, the responsibility of
the owner to ensure that the cover that they take out is adequate for
their needs. If in doubt they should consult their independent insurance
broker or obtain several quotations and compare the levels of cover and
Specific Types of Cover
- Third Party Insurance
This will cover the horse against claims resulting from injury to other
persons or property. For example, if your horse breaks out of a field
and causes a car crash or if your pony kicks a child in the livery yard
at which he is stabled then the owners of the car or the parents of
the child might sue you for damages. If this is the case these claims
would be covered by a third party insurance policy. This level of insurance
is considered absolutely essential for all animal owners and may well
be provided by your own household insurance cover.
- All Risks Mortality
Also known as Accidental Death.
This covers the horse against claims for the value of the animal in
case of death by severe disease or accident. It is a limited form of
insurance and does not normally, for example, cover the loss of a horse
after prolonged treatment such as navicular disease or arthritis. Policies
vary but in essence the horse in only covered if it is found dead or
if it has to be humanely destroyed as a matter of emergency due to an
excessive and incurable condition such as a broken leg or incurable
colic. Owners must be aware that this is a limited form of insurance
with many exclusions. Many insurance companies will require a 2-stage
vetting certificate before this cover is granted.
- Veterinary Fee Cover
This cover will reimburse the owner for non-routine veterinary treatment
following accident or illness to their horse. The amount of cover available
for each incident will depend on the various polices and is designed
to provide cover for the unexpected costs of treatment following disease,
accident or injury. Owners should ensure that the total available for
any one incident is sufficient to cover the worst possible scenario.
Current figures would suggest that it is prudent to insure your horse
or pony for up to £5,000 per incident to cover all forms of major
treatment available. Limited cover for only a few hundred pounds or
even £1-2,000 will not, in the event of a more serious condition,
such as colic surgery, provide the cover that you hope for. Taking out
such cover enables your horse to benefit from the major advances in
veterinary medicine and surgery that have been made over the last few
decades. It is not uncommon following an injury for the insurance company
to put an exclusion on any new policy for that condition.
- So called Catastrophic Vet Fees
This is insurance against severe and potentially expensive vet fees,
usually between £500 - £5,000 usually. It has a considerably
higher excess to pay however it does lower your premium.
- Loss of Use Cover
This cover provides you for reimbursement of your loss if your horse
is no longer able to perform its stated insured use following accident,
illness or disease. Strictly speaking, there are at least two forms
of loss of use cover currently available and owners should be clear
in their own mind which they require before they take out an insurance
policy. The cheaper form does not provide the same level of cover as
the more comprehensive type of policy.
The full loss of use cover provides protection against the effects of
any accident, illness or disease leading to your horse becoming permanently
unable to carry out the previously agreed roles for which you have insured
the horse. It is important that when you open your policy you inform
the company exactly what activities you will be doing
with your horse. These policies will offer you varying amounts of the
horses total insured value if the horse is no longer able to event,
for example, event but may still be able to hack satisfactorily, for
It is now a condition of all insurers that any horse that is the subject
of a loss of use claim will be positively identified by freeze brand
which is a white “L” within a circle.”.
When should you insure?
It is always a wise and cost efficient decision to ask an experienced
veterinary surgeon to examine the horse prior to purchase and to advise
you as to your chosen horse’s suitability for your particular use.
This form of examination may also be very useful when proposing your horse
for insurance cover. Do be aware however, that it is perfectly possible
that a horse may “pass” a vetting yet an insurance company
may make various exclusions on the cover available, due to pre-existing
conditions. If in any doubt you are strongly advised to obtain satisfactory
insurance cover prior to purchasing you horse.
Depending on the value of the horse some companies may request either
an annual veterinary examination and/or an owner’s declaration of
health before the horse is reinsured. It is worth noting that horse insurance
policies run for one year and if renewed are a separate contract. Unlike
medical insurance they do not at the present time run automatically for
the life of the horse. This means that if a horse sustains an injury you
have one years worth of veterinary treatment for this condition even if
you are onto a new policy.
Your insurance cover for your horse is a legal contract between you,
the proposer, and the insurance company. It is based on the fact that
all known facts have been declared and your policy may be invalidated
if you do not disclose all pertinent facts that you know or should have
known before you insure. If in any doubt it is necessary to discuss any
matters that may be relevant before you take out the policy. Further information
should be available for either your insurance broker or from the individual
insurance companies concerned.
When and how should you make a claim?
It is your duty as a policy holder to inform the insurance company as
soon as possible that your horse has been injured, lost or is suffering
from an illness or disease. Once notified varying insurance companies
may initiate different procedures but they will all ask you to show that
you have actually sustained a loss (i.e. documentary evidence of veterinary
fees already paid) and they may well ask you and your veterinary surgeon
to complete an appropriate claim form. You should note that the insured
policy holder is only covered for a loss already sustained and legally
cannot therefore claim for, veterinary fees that have not yet been paid.
However most insurance companies will, with prior notification, work together
with the insured to minimise the distress and inconvenience of any loss.
If you have any further queries about insurance please contact one of
the equine vets at the Equine Hospital.
The material contained in this website is presented for information purposes
only . The material is in no way intended to replace professional veterinary
care or attention from a professional veterinary surgeon.
The advice given in any of our web pages cannot be used as the basis
for a diagnosis or choice of treatment.
Clyde Vet Group advises that you should always consult a veterinary surgeon
about any queries with animals under your care.