Horse insurance is essential, but with so many options it may seem overwhelming to make the right choice. This detailed yet easy to follow guide explains everything you need to become well informed about horse insurance.
It explains about policy features, cost factors, how to avoid pitfalls, questions you need to ask an insurer and much more. In short, this guide will give you the knowledge to put in place a secure and personalised policy that will pay out when you need it most.
What Is Horse Insurance, and Do I Need It?
Horse insurance cover protects against any unexpected illness, injury or theft of a horse. In return for paying a regular monthly premium, the owner will receive a payout from the insurance company should a claim need to be made.
Equine insurance is flexible. Additional features can be bolted-on to a policy that covers everything from public liability to tack cover, and this will be covered next in this guide.
In the UK it is not set in law that you need equine insurance, only rules relating to the highway code. Yet for such a large animal with the cost of treatment or any risk of injury to a third party, it seems implausible that an owner or rider would not have any cover in place.
What is Covered by Horse Insurance: 15 Policy Cover Options
Insurers offer a basic cover level of horse insurance. Basic coverage includes death and theft or straying. It is usually a mandatory inclusion in a policy as insurers prefer an element of mortality cover. On top of the basic coverage, additional options are available. Some features will be very relevant to your situation and should have consideration. By selecting appropriate features, you can build up a policy closely matching your circumstances and horse-related activities.
Below we list and explain all the features that equine insurance can cover.
1. Death or slaughter
It covers the death of your horse from a disease, illness or accident up to the market value or the sum insured of the animal, whichever is less. The cost of carcass disposal often includes in the price of the policy, generally with a limit. Standard exclusions around death and slaughter revolve around Euthanasia. If Euthanasia is undertaken without the insurer’s permission unless deemed it necessary by a vet, it excludes. Additionally, Euthanasia for financial or economic reasons.
2. Theft or straying
The insurer will pay the sum insured in the policy, or the market value of the horse should it stray or get stolen and not recovered within 28 days. The insurer will also pay towards the cost of advertising and potential reward. Exclusions include not reporting a theft immediately to the police and the loss of a horse due to false pretences.
3. Vet’s Fees
Vet fee insurance cover provides treatment by a qualified veterinarian or similarly qualified practitioner should treatment be non-standard. Any injury or illness qualifying under vets cover must have started during the period of insurance. Non-standard treatment includes ultrasound, physiotherapy and acupuncture.
Most horse insurance companies include a maximum payout per incident, known as an incident limit. Depending on the insurer, this can range from £1,000 to £5,000. Excesses can tailor ranging from £150 to £750 per medical incident. Co-insurance is where, as well as the excess, a percentage of the cost of the treatment also pays. It may layout as £150 + 15%.
Exclusions under vets fees range from the treatment of pregnancy or castration to cosmetic or preventative therapies.
4. Permanent loss of use
If due to illness or injury, your horse is no longer able to perform the duties for which it is kept and insured, you can receive compensation under the permanent loss of use clause in a policy. It will allow you to purchase another for the initial intended purpose.
Insurers often provide compensation options ranging from 75% to 100% of the horse’s current market value. A higher compensation percentage means an increased premium.
If you take out this cover, the insurer must have clarity over the main activity for a horse’s use. What is in the policy document is what will form the basis of any loss of use claim.
5. Personal accident cover
Personal accident provides cover for you should there be an incident when in control of your horse resulting in your death, loss of limbs or any disablement stopping a return to employment.
Standard exclusions for a personal accident include injury as a result of being under drug or alcohol influence or a missing pre-existing medical condition at the policy outset.
If you do not belong to a riding school or the British Horse Society (BHS) which cover you for a personal accident it may make sense to include this benefit as part of your insurance policy.
6. Personal dental cover
It is a dental treatment for you should you have a riding accident. The extent of dental cover differs between insurers. Some may include emergency dental treatment up to £1,500 or a discount for younger riders under the age of 16.
7. Public liability cover
Public liability, also known as third party insurance, is often an additional option within an equine insurance policy. It provides financial protection should a member of the general public suffer injury or property damage caused by your horse. Public liability typically includes coverage of up to £2 million.
If you require even more coverage, up to £5 million, for example, public liability can also be a stand-alone insurance product from many insurance providers.
8. Stable cover
The cover is available should the stable at the premises where the horse kept get damaged or destroyed by fire. You must own the stable personally to apply for this cover, and there is typically a limit to the number of horses at the stable.
9. Saddlery and tack
The provision of cover for bridles, saddles and other riding tack attached to the insured horse for riding, driving or when it is at grass. Cover includes theft, loss or damage in an accident and can cover up to £10,000 is available with some insurers.
Exclusions apply to this type of protection from horsebox theft or from a building that is not enclosed and secure.
10. Hire of a replacement horse
If a claim approves as part of straying or theft, this cover will pay for you to hire a replacement horse. The hire duration is the theft or loss date until the payment of the claim or the time of its recovery. Insurers will typically exclude the hiring of horses from a party or person with whom the owner has a personal or business relationship.
11. Legal protection
A feature that some insurers have as an optional benefit; legal protection pays out legal costs which provide help and advice with the cost of legal representation. Cover levels vary by insurer but can be up to £50,000.
12. European cover
Specialist insurers will offer a cover option when a horse is in the EU and includes when in transit. A useful insurance feature, EU coverage is particularly relevant for those with sports training and competing throughout Europe. Coverage is typically for a set number of days per year.
13. Transportation and Livery
If a horse needs to undergo treatment with a vet, transportation and livery cover assists with the cost of transporting it to and from the referral vet including from a livery or your own privately owned stables.
14. Rescue costs
Rescue costs include any costs that you legally need to pay for either resulting from the police or a professional recovery service for the attempted rescue or recovery of your horse. Typical rescue cost cover ranges from £500 to £1000.
15. Holiday cancellation cover
A useful feature offered by some insurers covering the cost of expenses you cannot cover if you need to cut a holiday short if your animal needs emergency surgery in the opinion of the vet. Typical fees range from £1,000 to £1,500.
How Much is Horse Insurance: Influencing Factors
Insurance cover has two financial elements attached to it, the excess and the premium. The excess is the portion that you need to pay when a claim is made. The premium is the regular ongoing payment over the duration of your fixed term policy.
A key driver of the cost of insurance. Horse-related activities vary widely and have different risk profiles. Hacking is lower risk than eventing. The premium price will have a direct correlation to the horse-related activity.
The age of the horse
As the horse gets older, health issues will increasingly become a factor. Insurers normally limit insurance coverage around the age of twenty years old. Beyond this more limited cover is available through veterinarian policies
Horse insurance providers offer a range of features beyond standard cover for death, theft and straying. Vet fees, public liability, loss of use and personal accident all affect the cost of premiums in terms of both coverage and excess levels.
How much does horse insurance cost?
Insurance is available from as little as £5 a month for basic cover including death, theft or straying. Realistically, after including essential considerations such as vet fees, personal accident and public liability cover the cost is more likely to range from £50 to £100 a month depending on the insurer, activities and the limits in place. It translates between £600 and £1200 a year in insurance costs for moderate risk activities.
We have done comprehensive comparative research on insurance costs between providers. You can see the results on our best horse insurance guide or by going to our insurer reviews in the provider section of our website.
10 Essential Considerations Before Purchasing A Horse Insurance Policy
Horse insurance is not a ‘one size fits all’ product. It should consider as bespoke. There are important considerations to make to ensure that your policy tailors to cover all the horse-related activities you include sufficiently.
We provide a comprehensive list of essential points and pitfalls to be aware before taking out an equine policy.
1) Insure for the correct activity
Insurers look at the risk involved for each horse-related activity to help correctly price a policy. Novice eventing is higher risk than preliminary dressage and is likely to attract a higher premium. The higher
the risk, generally the higher the insurance premium. The premium on your policy must match precisely the activity you are involved in, or a claim could be invalid when you most need it.
2) Avoid non-disclosure
Non-disclosure to an insurer is very serious and could invalidate a policy. At the outset, you need to answer questions honestly and be transparent in all communication about your horse, including any pre-medical conditions. Even if injuries are minor, you must declare them; otherwise, it is considered non-disclosure and may prevent a claim paying out in the future.
Furthermore, the more your insurer knows about your horse’s history; the more certain exclusions will be, leaving as much covered as possible.
3) Do not select a policy just on price
Do not choose your equine policy just on price. Everyone has differing levels of involvement and risk regarding their horse-related activities. As with all horse insurance policies, equine cover will include conditions and exclusions as well as maximum limits and excesses.
You must consider all factors and what is relevant to your situation, not just the price when choosing your policy. A horse owner only hacking on private land in the countryside has a different risk profile than that of horse owners who hack on a public beach or needs to cross a busy road.
4) Always research and compare
Extensive research and comparison are crucial before taking out a policy. Our in-depth comparison of the best insurance providers will help you. Get horse insurance quotes from at least three insurers providers. Many will provide online quotes. Once you have your quotes and have done your research into the policies and providers, then you can narrow down your options and go to the next step of speaking to your shortlisted providers.
Include any recommendations as part of your research. Horsey friends or a veterinarian may have a good experience of an insurer through interaction or first-hand experience of a claim process. Recommendations can compliment but should not replace your research.
5) Check a horse is fully insurable before you purchase it
Ask the insurer what documentation is required to take out a policy. X-rays or vetting may be needed and once sent in may see exclusions inserted on the plan. The exclusion may be acceptable, or it could stop you purchasing the horse.
6) Insure your horse at the time of purchase
It is important to insure your animal as soon as you purchase it. Most insurers have a 14-day exclusion for illness and disease-related claims when a horse insurance plan starts. It is good to get this out of the way as soon as possible. Insuring immediately, you still benefit from public liability, personal accident and accidental external injuries.
7) Insure your horse at the price you paid
It is tempting to provide a lower purchase price when a policy begins to reduce the premium. Unfortunately, by doing this, if anything happens, you will not get back what your horse is worth.
8) Do not double up on insurance
Make sure that you are not going to double up on insurance coverage. Two areas that this can happen are with tack insurance and public liability. If you are a member of an organisation such as British Dressage, you may already have cover for public liability. If you keep your tack at home, it may cover under your home insurance. Doubling up does not invalidate a policy, but it can cause delays as insurers arrange who is paying for what.
9) Read the small print in the policy
You must be aware of what covers within a policy. There will be treatments or logistical costs that the underwriter will not cover. Be informed and avoid getting caught out
10) Only use a specialist horse insurance provider
It is sensible to select a horse insurance specialist. General insurance companies will not have the necessary experience when dealing with horse policies which need to align with your circumstances carefully. Insurers that have a long association with the industry are essential
Always ask if have any doubts.There is a range of different horse policies and additional covers available, and you should make sure you have the one that is right for you and your horse’s needs. If you need guidance, you can speak to one of our specialist advisers – they are all horsey people too, so will understand your needs.
Your Horse and its Activities: What Insurers Will Need to Know
It is essential to make sure your policy includes cover for the right activities from the start. Activity affects the premium price, and for an insurer to correctly quote for coverage, they need to understand the activities you are involved. If you hack and declare this as the extent of your activities, your horse may not be covered if injured at a one-off event or competition, even if it is low risk.
Horse health & medical history
The purpose of insurance is to protect against the unexpected. A pre-existing medical condition is not surprising, and an insurer must have full disclosure of all medical history for an accurate policy quote to layout any exclusions on the policy for which your horse will not have cover
The insured value of a horse will drive whether vetting is required before a plan can take place. Market values of up to £6,000 often do not require vetting unless pre-purchase vetting has already taken place. Amounts above typically require either two or five-stage vetting which are thorough veterinarian examinations including eyes, heart, lungs, skin and teeth.
Horse Insurance Exclusions
Exclusion clauses exist when there is an increased chance of a claim occurring. It makes sense that any pre-existing medical conditions may result in exclusion. Other standard exclusions that you should be aware of, particularly at the start of a policy include the age of the animal and as mentioned already in this guide, a 14-day exclusion at the policy outset.
Questions to Ask A Prospective Insurance Provider
Always ask any prospective insurance provider, policy-specific questions
You need to understand what is in any plan matches your expectations before signing it off. Not doing so can lead to unexpected costs of owning a horse. To help ensure your policy is watertight, it may help to ask these essential questions:
- What is the standard excess on the policy and are there likely to be any additional sums to pay?
- Is the excess calculated as a fixed amount or a percentage of the claim?
- Is the vet fee cover limit a total limit for the year, or does it apply to every claim made?
- Is there a maximum limit of what vet fees cover that includes diagnostics?
- How long is the average payout time for a claim?
- Until what age is my horse covered under the policy?
- Does the insurer provide a separate veteran insurance policy?
- Is there any paperwork or vet certificates that I will need to provide to set up my policy?
- Is the cost of livery covered if my horse goes into an equine hospital?
- Does the policy provide any physiotherapy or alternative treatments for my horse and if so, up to what amount can I claim?
What About the Insurance Provider?
A proficient insurance provider will be aware that every horse and circumstance is different.
What will work for one owner may not work for another. An insurer should nurture you around building policy from the ground up and individual to your situation.
We have already touched upon how essential it is to use the services of a specialist horse insurer. How do you know if the provider will sufficiently meet your demands for a robust policy?
Here are vital questions to consider when choosing your policy provider, whether using a broker or going directly to an insurance company:
- Do the employees you speak to have a strong knowledge of the horse industry? As a horsey person, you should be able to have an inkling of whether the staff talk at a reasonable depth about equine matters.
- Are the staff helpful? Do you get the feeling that the team are going that extra mile to help you put in place a robust policy? If they are, the chances are the company will also help if you do need to put in a claim
- Claim payouts. Does the insurance provider have a solid reputation for paying out claims? You can research this with a google search.
- Do you understand the documentation? The paperwork, mainly the terms and conditions of the policy, needs to be clear and easy to understand. Is should be in plain English and not ambiguous. You need to be sure that what you are signing up to is what you get.
- Is the insurer UK based? Selecting an insurer, specialising in UK equine insurance is preferable. Searches in Google may result in an American insurance provider coming up in the listings. A UK insurance provider will understand the UK equine market and is more likely to provide the right policy.
- How long has the insurer been operating? Another consideration when choosing a provider as more established horse insurers are more likely to have more experience in tailoring policies and a lengthier track record, including reviews for you to research
Other Personal Horse-Related Insurance Products
Specialist horse insurers provide a more extensive range of horse-related insurance beyond standard insurance. It is typically grouped either under personal equine or business equine insurance.
Business equine insurance covers Riding school, equestrian event, riding instructor and equestrian buildings insurance.
Further in-depth information on other types of equine insurance is available under the insurance products section of our website.
How does horse insurance work?
The owner pays a monthly premium to the insurance company. Should the horse die, the insurer reimburses the owner. The reimbursement level will depend on the policy terms and maybe for the full or partial value of the horse.
Is it worth it to insure your horse?
You need to consider if you afford the financial cost of owning a horse if something unexpected happens. Can you pay legal bills if your animal injures someone or afford vet bills if your animal needs treatment? If the answer is no, consider insuring your horse.
Can I insure any type of horse?
Yes, you can insure any type of horse you want. The breed does not affect the premium as it does with direct factors. These include the purchase price, the market value, the intended use of the horse and the location.
What is excess in horse insurance?
In equine insurance, the excess on a policy is the first part of a claim paid by the policyholder. A claim for a surgical procedure, for example, would see a set amount paid towards the cost of treatment with the insurer paying the balance. Higher excesses typically result in lower premiums.
What is third party equine insurance?
A third party is someone who gets injured or receives damage to their property resulting from an incident with an insured horse or transporting vehicle. The first-party or policyholder is protected financially from any such event. The second party is the insurer. Third-party insurance is also known as public liability insurance.
What is a veteran horse insurance?
Veteran insurance is coverage for horses typically above 20 years old. Most insurers have a separate policy for veteran horses. Protection is provided for accidental external injuries and not illness or disease covered under standard equine insurance.