Your Top Equine Insurance Questions, Answered

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We spoke with the experts to address equestrians’ most pressing concerns about insuring their animals

BY Paige Cerulli

When you’ve got a sick or injured horse, stress over their well-being—plus the bills that come with their care—may feel overwhelming. 

Equine insurance can help you to prepare for the unexpected, giving you peace of mind that you’ll have some financial help paying for your horse’s care. But navigating the ins and outs of equine insurance can be complicated, and chances are you’ll have some questions as you shop for insurance. 

The Plaid Horse spoke with three equine insurance experts to answer common questions about mortality, major medical, and personal equine liability insurance. Amy J. Daum, one of the founding partners at Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, has over 25 years of experience in the equine insurance industry. Cindy Anderson is an agent at Blue Bridle and has been employed with the company since 1998. Karen Wynn is an agent at Blue Bridle and has over 24 years of experience in the insurance agency. Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency and Blue Bridle are both agencies, meaning they work with a variety of equine insurance companies to help clients find the best coverage for their needs. 

I board my horse. Will my barn owner’s business liability cover my horse if he injures someone, or do I need to buy my own personal equine liability policy? 

“When it comes to any protection for the horse owner, even if the barn owner has their own liability policy, that is not going to protect the horse owner,” Daum tells The Plaid HOrse. “If the horse owner wants protection in the event their own horse injures a third party, they need to purchase their own liability policy.”

My horse lives at my personal barn at home. If my horse injures someone, will my homeowner’s insurance cover me? 

Wynn explains that whether homeowner’s insurance will cover a horse-related incident depends on your home insurance carrier. “Some will,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll cover one to four horses for liability.” Other companies may not cover horses at all, so it’s best to check with your homeowner’s insurance carrier. 

Wynn notes that if you plan to start an on-property or off-property riding business, it’s also important to check with your insurance company to verify such an operation will be covered. 

I adopted my horse for $1,000. Can I get medical insurance coverage for him? 

Some companies won’t offer medical and surgical coverage unless a horse is worth a certain amount of money. “Most companies have a minimum insured value, in some cases $15,000 to $20,000, before they’ll offer certain coverages,” says Daum. “We work with a company that is still in the market to offer medical and surgical coverage beyond what the horse’s value is. If you adopted a horse for $1,000 and wanted to get $5,000 or $10,000 in major medical coverage, they typically will offer it.” Additionally, Daum notes that a second company allows medical and surgical coverage on horses with a $7,500 minimum value, so there are potentially two options available for horses at lower values. 

I bought my horse a year ago, and I believe his value has increased through training. How can I prove that to my insurance company? Do I need to have him appraised? 

Anderson explains that insurance carriers use a horse’s purchase price to determine its insured value during the first year of ownership. That purchase price can include other expenses, such as a commission paid or import costs. “For example, if you bought a horse in Europe for $30,000 and you paid $10,000 for import, we can insure the horse for $40,000.” 

After the first year of ownership, a horse’s value can be increased based on factors like training fees. “If you bought a three-year-old for $20,000 and put a year of training into it, underwriting can increase the value based off the training fees,” says Anderson. Show records can also increase a horse’s value, especially if the horse moves up levels.

“We seldom if ever see appraisals,” says Daum. “Typically, underwriters don’t put a lot of stock in them.” She notes that the typical formula for evaluating paid training is to increase the horse’s value by about half of what you’ve paid for in training. For example, if you paid $500 per month in training fees for a year, you could expect your insurance company to increase your horse’s value by about $3,000.

I am concerned about paying for regenerative therapies like IRAP, and major diagnostics like MRIs and bone scans. Do any medical policies include coverage for these diagnostics and therapies? 

“Most every major medical/surgical type of coverage have some degree of diagnostic coverage and some degree of lameness treatment coverage like IRAP, stem cell, and PRP,” says Daum. “The extent of the coverage depends on the company. When it comes to certain diagnostics and lameness treatments, there’s often a coinsurance or a copay, which is either a percentage or a dollar limit. You might have a $2,500 limit for diagnostics. Once you meet that and your deductible, you’ll be responsible for anything beyond that. It’s definitely something to ask the agent about when shopping around.”

How does an insurance company determine exclusions for my horse? Can an exclusion ever be reversed? 

According to Anderson, how a company approaches an exclusion depends on where and when the issue happens, as well as the type of issue. Chronic conditions, such as ringbone, arthritis, EPM, allergies, and founder, would be covered if they’re a new condition during the policy term. At renewal, an exclusion would apply, and exclusions for chronic conditions are permanent. 

However, exclusions for other issues may be removed. If a horse fully recovered from an injury or lameness, you can ask for exclusions to be removed, typically at renewal or after a certain amount of time has gone by. “It never hurts to ask,” says Daum, and your insurance agent can help by collecting and forwarding your paperwork to underwriters. 

Daum notes that underwriters tend to be reasonable and specific to a problem when identifying an exclusion. “My experience has been that underwriters aren’t excluding entire legs. If you have an injury, unless it’s extreme and there are multiple areas and joints involved, underwriters are going to be pretty specific to the actual problem.”  

My horse had a colic episode three years ago. Can I ever get colic coverage for him again? 

“Every carrier has their own guidelines for colic,” says Anderson. “If the horse had colic surgery and there was a resection, the colic exclusion would be permanent for the time the horse is insured for, because the chances of colic recurring are greater,” she says. “But if the horse had a colic surgery and can go a year or two years colic-free from the date of surgery, and we get a note from the vet saying the horse has been colic-free for that time, underwriting can review and possibly remove that exclusion.” 

Do I always need to report events like lameness exams or treatments my horse receives to my medical insurance provider if I don’t plan to file a claim? What happens if I don’t report all of these diagnostics or services? 

“Whenever you do anything that is non-routine, it needs to be reported,” says Daum. It’s possible that a seemingly small issue, like a minor lameness, might escalate into a larger issue, prompting you to file a claim. “You don’t want to limit your access to coverage by not notifying the company when it starts,” Daum says. 

My coverage is renewing, and my insurance provider wants to know if my horse has received joint injections. Why does this matter and what will happen if he’s received injections? 

Renewal applications will often ask about treatments like joint injections or services like lameness exams. “Definitely disclose it,” says Daum. If you don’t disclose the information, some companies will request more information and react accordingly. “Some might actually refuse to renew your policy, even if technically what went on was nothing really important from the standpoint of the horse’s future. I think to a certain extent, companies have gotten frustrated by the lack of information and some are getting stricter if it’s not disclosed and they find out later,” she says. 

I have mortality coverage for my horse. If he has a life-threatening condition, can my vet and I decide we need to euthanize him, or do we have to contact my insurance company first?

“When we issue a policy, you will receive a claim card,” says Anderson. “The claims department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have to call your vet for anything other than routine care, you’re going to call your vet, hang up the phone, call the claims department.”

By sharing information about your horse’s situation with the claims adjustor, the adjustor will be prepared if your horse does need to be euthanized. “A claims adjustor does need confirmation from the vet to authorize the euthanasia,” says Anderson, “but this way the claims adjustor has all of your information in front of them and can make the decision immediately.” 

Additionally, some carriers require a necropsy, especially if a horse is found dead. When your vet speaks to the adjustor, the adjustor will determine whether a necropsy is needed.  

How can I best determine how much coverage I should purchase for my horse? 

Anderson explains that when she speaks with a client, she shares all of the coverages that their horse would be eligible for. “Then we go from there,” she says. “We try to get a feel for what’s most important to the client. We try to ask what’s important to them, what’s the greatest concern, and then what their budget is like. I want to make sure we can cover these people correctly without breaking their banks.”

Sample Premiums

Amy Daum shared three hypothetical scenarios with horses of different values with sample insurance premiums to provide readers with a financial frame of reference.

  • 6-year-old Thoroughbred show hunter with an insured value of $5,000
    • Rate for full mortality coverage is 3.25%, for an annual Mortality premium of $163.
    • Mortality policy also includes $2,500 of free Emergency Colic Surgery coverage, provided the horse doesn’t have a history of gastrointestinal issues.
    • Major Medical/Surgical annual limit options with annual premiums:
      • $5,000 – $200 premium
      • $7,500 – $340 premium
      • $10,000 – $450 premium
      • $15,000 – $675 premium

  • 6-year-old Warmblood show hunter with an insured value of $50,000
    • Full Mortality ranges from 3.35%-3.7%, for an annual Mortality premium between $1675 and $1850.
    • Mortality policy also includes $5,000 of free Emergency Colic Surgery coverage, provided the horse doesn’t have a history of gastrointestinal issues.
    • Major Medical/Surgical annual limit options with annual premiums:
      • $7,500 – premiums range from $375 – $500
      • $10,000 – premiums range from $550 – $575
      • $15,000 – premiums range from $750 – $800

  • 6-year-old Warmblood show hunter with an insured value of $100,000
    • Annual Mortality premium would range from $3,350 – $3,700.
    • Mortality policy also includes $5,000 of free Emergency Colic Surgery coverage, provided the horse doesn’t have a history of gastrointestinal issues.
    • Major Medical/Surgical annual limit options with annual premiums:
      • $7,500 – premiums range from $375 – $500
      • $10,000 – premiums range from $550 – $575
      • $15,000 – premiums range from $750 – $800

*Quote is good for all states except LA & VA, which have slightly different rates and premiums.

Editor’s note: Readers can also consult With Purpose: The Balmoral Standard, published by The Plaid Horse, for an in-depth chapter on mortality and major medical equine insurance, written by Michael Taylor of Taylor Harris Insurance Services.