Equine Insurance vs. Wellness Plan: What You Need to Know
Most horses spend their free time planning the demise of themselves and others. Here’s how to thwart them–and save money.
[top image: Wikimedia Commons]
Can you come up with several thousand dollars for equine surgery in a hurry? Yeah, me neither. It’s almost a given that your horse will find a way to injure himself sooner or later, so if sudden medical costs would pose a risk to your budget or savings, getting some kind of medical plan could be a good move. Problem is, since plans vary, it’s not necessarily straightforward to compare them. Here are the top things to look out for.
Most wellness plans are offered through your vet as a one-time cost each year to cover preventative care. The upside to a wellness plan is that you should see some savings as opposed to paying for services a-la-carte, and you will know exactly what your horse is getting every year as part of the standard plan.
If you’re looking for a wellness plan, here are the top things that are usually covered:
- Physical exams twice a year
- Fecal test
- Lameness screening
When it comes to equine insurance, an important thing to know is that equine insurance agents are not the ones actually providing the insurance. That’s the underwriter’s job, and insurance agents from popular companies like Markel, Great American or Hallmark are your connection to underwriters. So do your research on both parties–major things to find out include whether you can use your own vet, whether the agents make the process easy and helpful, and what kinds of claims the underwriter will pay for or deny.
Most insurance plans will require your horse to have a medical exam to rule out pre-existing conditions, but many will allow you to use your own vet.
Not all underwriters and agents will allow you to mix and match different types of policies, but some do, or they have different packages combining them. Here are the most common types:
Mortality insurance: Mortality reimburses you for the value of the horse if it dies. Generally if the value of the horse is under a certain amount, you don’t need a professional appraisal, but you should be aware that your horse’s market value can change over time, so make sure you know your insurance company’s policy on this. If you have your horse in training, or if you’re showing regularly, your horse’s value may increase past what you bought him for, but it goes the other way too…if he sits in a pasture for years, his value might go down.
Major Medical: Major medical insurance covers accidents, treatments and surgeries including colic. Usually mortality or major medical insurance is the cornerstone of your policy that you can then add other policies (like the ones below) to.
Surgical: What it sounds like–only covers surgery.
Loss of use: Loss of use insurance, again, is what it sounds like — a reimbursement for “loss of use” of your horse to illness or injury. Two major caveats, though — not all disciplines are covered (like eventing, since it combines three disciplines) and there is often legal language in the policy that gives the insurance company the right to take possession of your horse if you file a loss of use claim. It doesn’t happen often, but the language is in there to protect against fraud.
Colic insurance: Colic surgery is a horse owner’s worst nightmare, but a colic insurance add-on to your mortality or major medical plan can help defray the cost. Smartpak also offers a hybrid wellness/insurance ColiCare plan that reimburses you for $7500 worth of colic surgery if you use the SmartDigest Ultra supplement.
Liability: Liability insurance for your horse protects you from the cost of a legal dispute if your horse injures another person or horse. Your boarding barn’s insurance policy may cover this on the property, but it could be useful if your horse got loose, or if you travel often with your horse.
Have you ever had to deal with horse insurance? Share your tips below!
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