Horse Owners Take Risks By Neglecting Insurance

Most people don’t insure their horses.

The reasoning sometimes is that premiums are quite high in comparison to what they have invested, but on the other hand those who have substantial amounts wrapped up in horses often don’t have them insured either.

Their line of thinking is that the chance of loss or even major injury is small percentage-wise, so they’ll just bet their odds and hope for no problems.

By the same token, there are few people, if any, who have had horses over long periods, who haven’t had some losses that could have been covered by insurance. Whether the insurance payment received covers the premiums paid out would depend on the individual situation.

However, we have had horses insured, on occasion, and have received insurance payments for losses. A beautiful mare and her Paint foal were stricken by lightning, and we received reimbursement.

A couple of times, horses have gotten out of their pen and been hit by passing vehicles. In those situations, drivers were not hurt, but their autos received damage, and along with the horse deaths, were covered by our farm liability policy.

Equine mortality insurance is the most standard policy in the industry, and the horse can be insured for up to 100 percent of its value. Typically, annual premiums fall   between 3.2 and 3.8 percent of the animal’s agreed-upon value.

“Insurance in livestock is very similar to life insurance, because it’s mortality,” said Lyndia Cotton, founder and president of LCI Livestock Insurance, Stephenville, Texas.

“The base policy is mortality, whether it’s due to accident, sickness, disease, theft, and even destruction due to inhumane suffering,” Cotton clarified.

There are other endorsements, too. “Most often set at $3,000, the colic surgery endorsement is becoming more standard,” Cotton explained, “because horse companies would rather have to pay $3,000 for a colic surgery claim than a mortality claim.”

For insurance purposes, the value of a horse is determined by its purchase price and its performance record. No pre-existing conditions are ever covered, and it is a  12-month renewable contract, but there are sometimes exclusions one should know   about.

“On a new purchase, the horse’s purchase price is the maximum insurable value at that time. You are not to profit from an insurance policy,” Cotton emphasized. “They’ll let you increase the value of an animal as long as you can substantiate it through
performance records or training costs.

“Most companies also offer an endorsement of major medical surgical coverage to help pay veterinarian bills due to accident, sickness, disease or surgery that occurs during the policy period,” Cotton added.

The major medical endorsement is recommended for people new to horse ownership and those who travel frequently with their horses.

“The less you know about horse care, and the shorter amount of time you’ve been in the industry, the more I encourage major medical because you don’t have the experience to do what the veterinarian tells you on the phone,” Cotton noted.

For traveling horsemen, the wear and tear on a horse can add up. If there is need for a
veterinarian while on the road, chances are the horse owner won’t be acquainted
with that vet.  When a horse owner can present a policy covering the cost of treating an accident or sickness to a vet, no time will be wasted getting the horse needed

Plus, having this type of coverage could spare horse owners the decision of whether or not to undertake life-saving veterinary care.

“Major medical insurance typically covers diagnostic testing, surgery and post-operative care and medicines,” Cotton clarified. “However, it doesn’t cover routine care and vaccinations, deworming, supplements, hock injections and the

Most companies offer several plans between $5,000 and $10,000 total, and there is a
deductible per occurrence.

“There are also endorsements to cover permanent disability due to injury or illness that prevents the horse from performing his normal event, but it’s not a common   endorsement and is expensive,” Cotton pointed out

“Personal horse owner liability coverage will protect you should your animal cause bodily injury or damage to someone else,” Cotton described. “You are liable in the
United Statesfor the behavior of your animal. If somebody gets hurt, somebody’s to blame, and they’re going to come after who ever the horse belonged to.”

Those who conduct roping competitions are certainly at risk of a lawsuit, too. For roping producers, they should have an insurance policy in place to even rent a facility.

“The cost of a policy depends on the size of the arena, how much income is being produced and how many human lives are at exposure,” Cotton explained. “Producers now know what they’re doing, and they usually have their own safeties. They don’t want a claim.”

On the other hand, for those who rent their own arena, host small ropings or have organized practices at their place, a policy should be in place.

“If it’s on your own property, you should carry a policy,” Cotton advised. “If somebody gets hurt, they’re going to sue, and they’re going to sue the producer, the person that
injured them and the property owner. They’re going to name everybody in the lawsuit trying to find the deepest pockets.”

It is to the insured’s advantage to work with an agent who is a rider or horseman himself, according to Cotton.

“My theory is, if I’m a horseman and I’m out there with my trailer at an event among the people I’m insuring, I want to be sure the companies I’m riding with and the claim
settlements are top notch,” she commented. “I don’t want to just hide behind a desk.

“Be sure to request the information on the quote and coverage be sent to you in writing. Never assume what is covered, get it in writing,” Cotton alerted.