It might not seem like it, but choosing the best insurance for your horse is no easy feat. There really are just so many providers and policies, from supermarket chains to specialised equine brokers. Trying to pick the right one for you and your horse can be a headache. Decisions aside, ensure that any provider you are interested in, is registered with the Financial Conduct Agency (FCA). They will make sure that the company conducts itself appropriately, in order to protect you, the customer. All insurance brokers must be on the register.
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It’s generally a good idea to choose a company that specialises in horses. Mostly just because they will have more experience dealing with equine claims when compared with a general provider. This will make the whole claims process easier for everyone. Whichever company or policy you pick in the end, always read the fine print.
There has been many a horse owner who’s realised too late that their policy doesn’t cover something they really need, but often just because they haven’t read their policy thoroughly. Remember, the fine print is important. If you have trouble understanding anything in your horse’s policy, your vet might be able to help explain it to you. This is often the case with very attractive prices; at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Whilst you do need to think about what’s feasible for you in terms of premium and excess, it’s no help if a much lower price doesn’t provide the necessary cover for your horse.
Why does your horse need insurance?
Aside from the obvious risk of veterinary fees for our expensive equine friends, it’s a good idea to insure your horse for other reasons too. These include in the heart-breaking events of him being stolen, lost (often covered collectively as theft and straying), dying or being put to sleep (this is called mortality insurance) as well as in the unfortunate case that he can’t fulfill the purpose you bought him for, owing to injury or disease (this is known as permanent loss of use and such cover may be obtained for all, or part, of his value).
There are also other things you should consider. These include whether you need any insurance cover for his tack, for yourself as a rider, and for if he causes damage to another person or their property. This is what’s called third party liability cover. Another significant and often unexpected cost, which no owner wants to have to think about, is that of cadaver disposal. In the event that your horse is put to sleep, or should pass away, it can give you some peace of mind to know that the cost of taking care of your horse’s body afterwards, is covered for by your insurance policy. This means that if something should happen to him, this cover might take a load off your mind at what would be an already very difficult time.
Often, we riders like to consider ourselves invincible. And we can forget that the effect of having a riding accident can be highly significant. Not only might we not be able to ride (a catastrophe in itself), but a more serious event could cause life-changing injury, perhaps temporarily (or permanently) putting us out of work and needing some extra help. Handily, some equine policies will include some level of rider cover but it’s important to check this. If the policy doesn’t provide for it, then it’s worth considering a separate policy for yourself too, just in case.
We are enjoying steady progression in the equine veterinary field; meaning that even more options and advancements are becoming available to our equine patients. The knock-on effect of this, though, is that the cost of providing high quality veterinary care to these immense animals is significant. This means that veterinary bills are often expensive. Appropriate cover in your horse’s insurance for veterinary fees can help minimise the impact of any unexpected vet bills, particularly when faced with an accident or if your horse needs emergency care.
You’ll need to decide if just emergency cover is needed, or if you want him to be covered for other conditions, as well as for things like physiotherapy. An important aspect of any veterinary cover, is the time-limit on the condition involved. For example, many policies will only cover a particular veterinary condition for a set time-frame. Often for 12 months or until the policy’s financial limit is reached. It’s important to be clear on this because, beyond the limit, your horse may not be covered for the condition. This means that you are responsible for footing the veterinary bill personally. In most cases, you will not be able to claim for it again in the future. As always, this does vary between providers.
Reiterating about the fine print
We’ve said about reading the fine print, but it really is important. Many policies will require your horse to be up to date with his routine care such as vaccinations, in order for his policy to remain valid, some may require you to provide evidence of a 2 or 5 stage vetting, before allowing you to take out the policy. To prevent being caught out by anything, always take the time to read through prospective policies in detail before making the decision and insuring your horse.