Equine Insurance: Do You Feel Lucky?

Equine Insurance: Do You Feel Lucky?

"You only need to insure your horse, if you couldn't afford to replace him."

That was practically a mantra for one of our first equestrian trainers. Actually, this has turned out to be pretty good advice.

We did carry insurance coverage on our first horses. However, as our herd grew, we opted out. It was simply too costly!

Do you need insurance for your horse? What sorts of coverage are offered, and how can you tell which to choose? What exclusions may apply?

What policy options are available?

Equine insurance has grown into a complex industry, as the horse business has matured.

Today, your horse may be insured against mortality (death by accident or illness), specified perils (fire, lightning or transportation damages), infertility and reproductive hazards, theft, and loss-of-use (disability).

What is loss-of-use? Basically, this is intended to cover your horse, if his show or athletic career comes to a sudden end. Suppose your Grand-Prix jumper becomes injured and can only do flat work under saddle, or your Prix St. George dressage mount develops a soft-tissue condition and can no longer piaffe. Can you collect? Loss-of-use is difficult to prove, and this coverage can be quite costly.

How much insurance does your horse need?

A rather sophisticated actuarial formula is used to calculate value and risks for equine insurance. In principle, it operates much like human life insurance underwriting.

Basically, an equine insurance premium is based on the value of a horse. Other factors include the horse's age and intended uses. Jumpers and eventers are costlier to insure than dressage horses. Racehorses, reiners and barrel racers usually demand higher-ticket policies than trail horses. Horses who travel to shows may have higher premiums as well. The location and stabling of your horse is also a factor.

If your horse is worth a lot of money (as in, more than $10,000), then you may decide it is worthwhile to purchase insurance to cover life or loss. If you paid $1,000 or less for your horse, then you may opt out of insurance. (This does not diminish the amount of love you have for your equine companion!)

If you have several horses, the insurance premiums can add up quite quickly. It's important to weigh the odds and determine whether the output is worth it.

Insuring a horse can be a complex proposition. Be sure to ask any questions upfront.

Can foals be covered?
Is equine medical insurance worth the high premiums?
What about exclusions?

If you belong to breed organizations (such as APHA, AQHA, IAHA) or equestrian disciplinary associations (such as ABRA, USDF, USEA or USA Equestrian), you may want to check your membership benefits. Many of these groups include varying levels of coverage, at least for competitions, with annual dues.

For answers to these questions and more, please click here to read the entire online article, "Equine Insurance: Do You Feel Lucky?"

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