A Simple Guide to Horse Insurance

Why do you need insurance for your horse, and what features and exclusions are usually found in horse insurance? Read our guide to find out.

What is horse insurance?

Understanding the horse world and the UK equestrian insurance market is essential when taking out equine insurance. This is no light task: with so many different providers and options it can seem that no one choice is right. To make it easier for you, we've put together this guide to horse insurance.

Before taking our horse insurance, it is worth considering which covers are going to be the most important to you. The minimum cover available will be for: the death of a horse, theft and straying.

Do I need horse insurance?

Although it is not a legal requirement to hold horse insurance, owning a horse is a large financial commitment. It is key to insure your horse before it suffers an illness or injury, which may be expensive to treat and will be excluded from any future horse insurance policy.

What does horse insurance cover?

Different levels of horse cover exist, providing varying benefits, so make sure you choose the right one for you. Some of the most common features available are:

Cover for the death of your horse - Insurance for the death of your horse protects you against the financial costs of the accident, illness or disease suffered by your horse. Removal and disposal of the carcass may also be covered.

Cover for theft or straying - If your horse is stolen or strays, insurance for theft or straying will cover the cost of advertising your horse as missing, up to a certain cost. If your horse is not recovered within 28 days of it being stolen or straying, you may be covered for the market value or the sum insured.

Public liability insurance - As part of your horse insurance policy, public liability cover will protect you against the costs incurred by members of the public suffering personal injury or property damage because of your horse. Most insurers will offer a limit of at least £1 million if you are sued because your horse has caused injury or damage. Contact your insurer to find out more details.

Personal accident cover - This will add approximately £15 – £30 to your annual premium and will insure you and anyone else riding your horse with your permission, for death and accidental injury. Many insurers will offer cover of around £10,000 to £20,000 in the event of death or permanent total disability. However, Personal Accident under a Horse policy is designed as catastrophe cover and is limited as such. Many of us would want to include a weekly benefit, which is generally not available under these policies.

If this cover is inadequate you should be thinking about a separate Personal Accident policy that will include Temporary Total Disablement. This can provide the policyholder a weekly benefit if you are unable to carry out your normal occupation. The Horse policy cover is limited to riding or handling the insured horse only, whereas a separate policy can cover the insured whilst riding any horse and can also include other activities as well.

Permanent loss of use cover - Permanent loss of use cover is an optional add on and covers you if your horse can no longer be used for the activities you insured it for, for the sum of purchasing another horse for the originally intended purpose(s). However, if your horse is still capable of breeding, the insurer will usually only cover part of the sum.

Vet fees - This covers vet bills (with a maximum cap) and will require you to pay an excess. Within the sums insured, vet fees could also include costs in respect of alternative treatments - if recommended by a vet - along with livery charges whilst at - and transportation costs to and from a surgery, college or hospital. 

How much does horse insurance cost?

The cost of your horse insurance policy can be split into two parts: the insurance premium and the excess. The premium is the overall cost you will pay for your insurance policy. The excess only comes in when you need to make a claim and is a cost you pay towards the claim. 

The price of a horse insurance policy is based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Your horse's age - The chances of your horse becoming ill will increase as it ages. While foals are more likely to get into difficulties while learning how to walk.

  • The activities your horse takes part in - Different activities carry different risks. To give you an idea of what this means, activities such as hacking, schooling and riding clubs are usually considered low risk. Whereas activities such as hunting would likely be considered high risk. 

  • Additional cover desired - While a basic horse insurance policy will cover for death of a horse, theft and straying, you may want to take out cover for other eventualities, such as veterinary fees and public liability. Such extras will add to your premium, but vet fee cover is generally popular as for a relatively small cost, it could save you substantial fees, should your horse need medical attention. 

Horse insurance exclusions

Exclusions vary by policy and insurer, but below are some common exclusions:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions - Cover will not be offered for illnesses or injuries your horse suffered before you took out the policy. This means if the same problem occurs again, your horse will not be covered.

  • Age limits - We can insure a horse up to 19 years of age on full cover, but veteran cover is available from 16 years old.  

  • Medical prerequisites - Cover will sometimes be refused if your horse has not been vaccinated or wormed. 

  • Hospitalisation - Some policies will not cover hospitalisation of your horse.

  • 14-day exclusion - Most policies will not cover any loss arising from illness or death sustained by the horse during the first 14 days from inception of cover. 

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