Whether a horse is purchased for personal or business reasons, ownership represents a significant investment of time, money and resources. While no one likes to think about the potential for tragedy, horses seem to be prone to illness, accidents and injury. Should some peril befall your horse, nothing may ease the emotional burden, but wise planning can help reduce the economic impacts.
Many reputable insurance companies offer policies to help protect owners from financial loss should a horse fall ill, become incapacitated or die. Because individual policies vary so much from company to company and circumstance to circumstance, it is beyond the scope of this brochure to explain how to find the right coverage to meet your needs. What's important to note is that each policy has its own terms, conditions and requirements which may necessitate action from you, your veterinarian and your insurance company.
Common types of coverage available for horses include but are not limited to:
Insurance policies are legal contracts between the underwriter (the company) and the insured (horse owner). To better safeguard yourself and your horse:
Most equine insurers require a current health certificate signed by a veterinarian before a policy will be issued for a horse. Remember, this is a legal document. You should not ask nor expect your equine practitioner to make claims about a horse he or she has not verified through a thorough physical examination. A veterinarian cannot simply "take the client's word for it," or complete the requested information based on prior knowledge of the horse. The certificate requires that determination of the animal's health be made on the day of the examination. Your veterinarian will be compensated for the exam and any tests that may be required to accurately and adequately complete the insurance forms. The exact requirements of the exam may depend upon the type of coverage being applied for. A breeding infertility policy would require a diffferent type of exam than a simple mortality policy, for example.
A veterinarian cannot attest to the insurability of a horse. Your veterinarian can only respond to questions of which he or she has direct knowledge, reporting the medical facts to the best of his or her ability. He or she will be asked to positively identify the horse for which the application is being made. However, your equine practitioner has no role in determining the insurable value of a horse. That is a matter for the insurance underwriter and the owner to establish.
Regardless of the circumstances, never ask or expect your veterinarian to report a claim to the insurance company. This is your responsibility as the owner. The veterinarian may be asked to supply necessary medical documentation.
Do not expect your equine veterinarian to be an insurance expert. If you have questions regarding your policy, ask your insurance agent rather than your veterinarian.
If there is something that your insurance company requires, make sure your veterinarian receives the request in writing.
If a question or dispute should arise regarding a claim, it is a matter for you and your insurance company to resolve. It is not the responsibility of your veterinarian.
Euthanasia is the intentional destruction of a horse for humane reasons. For an insurance claim to be valid, many companies require advance notification and prior permission except under the most extreme conditions. In some cases, the insurance company may wish to seek a second opinion before a horse is euthanized. The American Association of Equine Practitioners has established guidelines that state the justification for euthanasia should be based solely on medical, not economic considerations, regardless of the age, sex or potential value of a horse. Four criteria are given to help make this determination:
You, your veterinarian and your insurance company each have a role in maintaining the integrity of the horse industry.
Regardless of insurance coverage, the horse's welfare must always be at the forefront of any decisions being considered on its behalf.