By Clara Sechi DVM MRCVS
For many of us equestrians, our horse is one of our most valuable treasures. Firstly in initial cost, then in ongoing expense and last but certainly not least, in emotional terms.
Which is why we vets often find treating an insured horse is a much-less fraught experience for everyone involved. When a horse is covered by a good policy, we can get down to treatment and recovery. But when there is no insurance as back-up, and an owner has no savings, it is so difficult.
There are many insurance policies available and it is worthwhile taking time to find out what is on offer. Buying the cheapest does not always mean you have got the best value, or the right insurance for your needs.
Illness, injury, theft or an accident can happen at any time and may result in unexpected bills.
It is always a good idea to get a horse vetted so that you are aware of its condition – warts and all!
The horse may be lame, have an eye or heart condition, or a sarcoid. The vet can then advise on the implications of the conditions found and the suitability of the horse for you.
For example, a small sarcoid may seem like a trivial reason to turn down the perfect horse, but sarcoids can be very tricky and are extremely unpredictable in how they will develop or plateau, so a conversation with your vet could save heartache and expense down the line.
Even if you did decide to buy a horse with one or two issues, a vetting can at least prepare you for what might happen.
Remember though, insurance is for unexpected problems, so if your horse already has pre-existing conditions, the insurance company may reject claims relating to this, or build an exclusion into your policy.
Cover will vary, so shop around and ask questions. When you decide who you want to insure with, generally immediate cover will be available for accidental injuries, with illness cover being provided after a short time (often 14 days), which may also be dependent on you providing any necessary veterinary reports or other information, for example the passport or evidence of value.
Read the small print. If you do decide to insure – know exactly what you are getting for your money. A surprising number of people are unaware of what their horse is actually covered for, and may be in for a nasty surprise when they find out. Equally, you can’t claim for something you don’t know you’re entitled to – so it works both ways. Some, though not all, insurance companies will pay for alternative therapy or supplements.
One more thing to consider. If you do decide that insurance is not for you, it is well worth putting a monthly amount to one side in case of emergency. A nest egg can truly save the day when it comes to your treasured horse.
Be wise, and don’t think accidents and injury won’t happen to you – few of us are that lucky and we all know that things rarely go to plan with horses!