Posted 09-Nov-2019 12:12:46
Category: Broadstone Equine

Five Horse Insurance Myths & Misconceptions

As part of Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, my career has given me the opportunity to travel around the country to events and competitions as diverse as local horse club meetings, national championships, and association conventions. What I most enjoy is meeting horsepeople from all walks of life to hear their opinions when it comes to horse insurance.  After countless conversations, combined with more than two decades of experience in the business, I’ve seen a pattern in the types of myths and misconceptions that the average horse owner has when considering their equine insurance options.

#1) Equine Mortality Insurance is Just Too Expensive

Cost is the most common misconception, with the general assumption that insuring the average horse is just too expensive.  One of the common comments I hear after calculating a quote for a potential client is, “That’s not as much as I thought it would be.”

The annual premium for a Full Mortality (life insurance and theft, and generally some amount of coverage for Colic Surgery expenses) policy on a horse is based on a rate, which is a percentage of the horse’s insured value, and that rate is determined by the horse’s breed, age, sex, and use. 

Pro Tip: When looking for a quote, it is very useful to work with an equine insurance agent that works with several insurance companies, since this gives them access to competitive rates and coverages and can find a policy that fits your needs from both a cost and coverage standpoint.  Look for someone who is willing to answer your questions promptly and clearly, responds to emails and voice mails in a timely manner, and will provide you with a binder as proof of coverage until the actual insurance policy is sent to you.  And most important--find an agent who is also an experienced horse person.  They need to know the difference between combined driving and combined training, understand conditions from EPM to OCD, and recognize breeds from Arabian to Zangersheide. You want someone who understands your passion.  

Broadstone has relationships with several of the top equine insurance carriers in the U.S., which makes us one of the most flexible, competitive agencies in the country.  For a Show/Pleasure horse through age 15 and insured for a value of $10,000, the rate for Full Mortality coverage begins at 2.9%-3.7% of the insured value, for an annual mortality premium of $290-$370.

For example, rates for Dressage horses range from 2.9%-3%, and Reining and Cutting horses start at 3%. For Show Hunter/Jumpers, Barrel Horses, and Roping horses rates range from at 3.25-3.7% and Eventers start at 3.9%. For a quick emailed quote, go to our Quote Page.

An extra benefit:  The companies that Broadstone works with also offer Full Mortality policies that include up to $5,000 (exact amount depending on the horse's insured value and the insurance company offering the coverage) of Emergency Colic Surgery (ECS) coverage, at no extra charge, for horses without a history of colic or gastrointestinal issues. 

#2) Even if I can afford mortality coverage, the Medical/Surgical coverage is what I really need, and will be out of my price range

While Full Mortality is your starting point, most people also want some amount of Medical/Surgical coverage as well (more on the actual coverage in item #4).

Annual coverage limits of $5,000, $7,500, $10,000, $12,500 and $15,000 are available, depending on the insurance company and the horse’s age and insured value, with annual premiums starting at $200 per year and increasing as the coverage limits increase.    

The Math: A $5,000 Show/Pleasure horse, age 2-14, insured for Full Mortality and $5,000 Medical/Surgical coverage could cost as low as $363 a year.  Depending on the company, a $10,000 Dressage horse with $10,000 Medical/Surgical coverage could cost as low as $740, with an installment plan option available to make payments over time.

#3) It’s too complicated to apply

The response I often hear after discussing the required paperwork that I’ll need from a prospective client is: “Well that’s pretty simple.”  For the average sound and healthy horse to be insured for Full Mortality and Medical/Surgical, an application from the owner is all that is needed. Vet certificates are usually only required if the horse is to be insured for a value higher than $100,000, is older (usually over 16 or 17), or has a history of significant health problems. 

Applications are available as fillable PDFs that can be electronically completed, signed, and emailed back to us (or faxed or snail mailed), so in a lot of cases, less than five minutes of paperwork and the click of the Send button is all it takes to get a policy in place. 

Show Me the Money - Payment isn’t required up front, since it is the paperwork and underwriting approval that allows coverage to be bound. That gives you time to make payment to either the insurance company directly or to our office. Payment can be made by check, or most credit or debit cards, and installment plans are usually available as well.

#4) Medical/Surgical Coverage is too restrictive, or not available due to my horse's value 

Often potential clients are concerned that these coverages are a bit of a sham, only covering the most catastrophic problems, like colic surgery, and even then, with all sorts of restrictions. The other misconception is that Medical/Surgical coverage isn't available to horses with values under certain amounts, such as $15,000 or $20,000.

Medical/Surgical endorsements can be invaluable if your horse suffers an injury, illness, lameness, accident, or disease during the policy period.  Common uses for theses coverages include diagnosis and treatment of lamenesses, surgically or medically treated colics (even a colic that only requires medical treatment for a day or two at the vet hospital can still easily run into the thousands of dollars), blunt force traumas and lacerations, puncture wounds, gastric ulcers,  and diagnosis and treatment of conditions ranging from EPM and Lyme Disease to melanomas and respiratory infections.

When it comes to a major lameness or illness, diagnosis can sometimes be more expensive than the actual treatment. This is where a Medical/Surgical type of endorsement can be very useful. Depending on the insurance company, the endorsement generally covers a sizable portion of the diagnostics for a covered issue, ranging from X-rays and ultrasounds, to even MRIs and bone scans.  Once a diagnosis is made, many treatment options are also covered to varying amounts, with the specifics such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copays depending on the company.

Granted, the Medical/Surgical type of endorsement isn’t going to cover every veterinary expense, and there are  restrictions and exclusions with every companies' coverage wording, but in most cases the coverage will help soften the hit on your bank account, and allow you to concentrate on giving your horse the best care possible.

#5) After I get a horse insurance policy, if I make a claim the company will raise my rates or refuse to renew my coverage

In most cases, a claim does not result in a non-renewal of coverage.  Underwriters understand bad luck and the nature of horses, and seldom make knee-jerk decisions. In most cases renewal is offered, and rate increases are generally not applied based on a claims history.

Do keep in mind though that horse insurance policies are 12-month property/casualty policies, and unlike most human health insurance policies, pre-existing conditions are excluded.  This means that if the horse does have a new health problem during a policy year, if you renew your policy it is possible that an exclusion for that problem will apply to the following year’s policy and any future policies.  That said, most policies include varying types of extensions of coverage that may help protect you for a period of time after the policy expires. 

Bonus Point – Quick! Knock on Wood!

My horse has never colicked/taken a lame step/been sick a day in his life, so I don’t need horse insurance.

Hopefully that streak will continue, but in my experience many claims happen to horses that previously had stellar health histories.  They’ve never coilcked—until the night they end up in surgery.  Or they’ve never been lame until the day a pasturemate decides to play a bit rough or they find the one groundhog hole in their paddock. 

With that in mind, putting into perspective all the time, money, and effort that we put into our horses, who we often consider members of our family, and the fact that we insure all our other major investments--trucks, trailers, houses, barns--adding your horse to that list is definitely something to consider.

For more information on horse insurance, please call our office, check out some of our other blogs, and visit the Broadstone Protect Your Horse, FAQs, and Quote pages.

This piece is intended for general information purposes and is not an example of coverage. For details on rates and coverages, contact Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency at 888-687-8555.

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