Need cover for your horse float? Find out what to look for.
If you want to insure your horse float all you have to do is look at normal trailer insurance policies. Some companies will offer different levels of cover so you can get covered for the full bells and whistles like damage to your float and towing, or just for damage to other people's property if that's what you're worried about.
What’s included in horse float insurance?
While towing your horse float, the CTP insurance of the car that’s doing the towing will cover it. Your horse float won’t have any other cover beyond this unless the car insurance policy specifically mentions other cover for your horse float. For cover specifically for horse floats, you generally have two main options:
- Trailer insurance. This specifically covers the float and can give a range of options and a high level of cover. If you use a horse float in a professional capacity, it can be a good idea to insure your trailer.
- Included in equine insurance. Many horse insurance policies will include horse floats, but the cover they offer can vary widely. Some might not give you the option of insuring it for full market value or will not include liability cover. You should check your equine insurance policy to see what kind of cover it may, or may not, already have for horse floats.
For comprehensive and cost-effective horse float insurance, trailer cover might be the way to go. Barring exclusions or special circumstances, these policies typically include the following:
Full damage cover
All damage to the trailer (subject to policy conditions) up to a total loss is covered. Policies will specify the type of damage that is covered. For example, one policy might cover damage caused by storms or flooding, while another won’t.
The way it pays out depends on the policy.
- Repairs. Insurers can pay for any damage to the trailer, including the cost of replacement parts, work and any other expenses.
- Total loss replacement. If the cost of repair is more than a new trailer, many policies will give you a brand new, equivalent, replacement trailer. Often this will only be available for the first couple of years, after which it will switch to payout instead.
- Total loss payout. You can get paid the total value of the trailer in the event of a total loss. This might be its market value at the time of the accident or an agreed upon insured sum.
This covers you for expenses where you have liability. This could include injuries or damage resulting from a runaway trailer, sloppy driving, or if someone slips and falls while accessing the trailer. It can offer cover whether you were driving or accessing the float, or if someone else was doing it with your permission. Depending on the policy, this can include the following:
- Property damage liability. The cost of property damage caused by the trailer or by use of the trailer.
- Medical liability. The cost of medical treatments, as well as possible funeral expenses, that you may be liable for.
- Legal liability. The legal costs that may be involved when you need to defend yourself against a claim made by someone else.
- Employer liability. This covers your employer’s or principal’s liability while you are using the horse float for business purposes.
This covers the cost of authorised emergency repairs to your horse float if it can’t be towed following an accident.
Removal and storage costs
This covers the cost of removing and storing the float if you are unable to move it following an accident and emergency repairs can’t get it on the road right away.
- Policies can cover the cost of debris removal.
- Policies can also include emergency accommodation cover if you’re a long way from home and need to stay in nearby accommodation on account of being unable to move your float.
Returning your float
Insurance can also cover the costs associated with returning the repaired, or replacement, horse float to you. Insurers may agree to pay the reasonable costs of transporting the trailer to you or can arrange delivery directly at no cost to you.
- Unexpired registration and CTP insurance. The insurer will refund any unexpired portion of your paid horse float registration and CTP insurance.
- Tools, parts, equipment and other possessions. Your policy can also cover belongings kept in the horse float that are lost, destroyed or stolen. Naturally, this doesn’t include the horse(s).
Exclusions, limits and conditions
If one seemingly equivalent policy is a lot cheaper than another, it might be because there are specific exclusions, limits or other conditions which affect the cover. These define policies as much as the inclusions do.
Limits and conditions to be aware of
The main limit is your sum insured or the current market value of your horse float. You will not be able to claim more than this amount for the trailer in the event of a total loss. With trailer policies, you can often choose either market value or sum insured, while equine insurance might only give you market value.
- Market value. If you choose this option, your insurance will pay out the market value of your float at the time of the loss, subject to depreciation at standard rates.
- Sum insured. With this option, you agree on the value of the trailer ahead of time, and may claim this amount in the event of a total loss.
The preferable option depends on a range of factors, including what kind of float you have, whether it has any special features or aftermarket additions and how well you maintain it. Often, professionals will insure at an agreed value.
- Any company branding, special features or similar features may not count towards the market value of the trailer.
- A well-maintained horse float might not depreciate as quickly as the market value indicates.
- With market value, the insurance payout might not be enough to get the equivalent replacement trailer you need.
Specific types of cover will have sublimits you need to pay attention to. For example, you might not be able to claim more than $500 for the contents of a trailer regardless of how much they are worth. With liability cover, the limits are usually in excess of $20 million or more.
Specific conditions will often apply for payouts. For example, you may not be able to make a claim for emergency accommodation unless you’re more than 100km from home at the time. There also may be specific conditions regarding which parts and equipment are covered.
How much does horse trailer insurance cost?
The cost of a policy depends on your location, the type of cover and the value of your horse float. Overall, it’s broken down into the excess and the premiums.
The trailer excess
The excess is a fee you pay in the event of a claim and each separate claim will have a separate excess. Often, multiple excesses will apply to a single claim. These generally work very similar to car insurance and can include the following:
- Voluntary excess. This base excess will apply to all claims. Generally, you can choose your own excess, and you can opt for a higher excess to get lower premiums or a lower excess for higher premiums.
- Age excess. This excess may apply if the driver at the time was under the age of 25.
- Inexperienced driver excess. This can apply to drivers who are over the age of 25, but have held a license for the vehicle they were driving for less than 2 consecutive years.
- Off-road excess. If you were towing your trailer on dirt, sand or an unsealed road at the time of an incident, this excess may apply.
Your horse float premiums
The insurer’s risk determines your trailer insurance premiums. This risk is a combination of how likely you are to make a claim and how much it will cost if you do. As such, it can be affected by the following:
- The overall value of your trailer and whether you’re covering it at market value or at an agreed sum. Market-value insurance policies are generally cheaper because the amount that the insurer has to pay out for a total loss decreases over time. The other types of cover you have included will also have an effect.
- Whether you are under 25 or otherwise qualify as an inexperienced driver since you are statistically more likely to have an accident.
- How comprehensive your cover is and what you are able to claim. Higher-level cover carries higher premiums.
How much cover do I need?
Finding the right policy is about balancing cost and cover. Policies need to be affordable, but should also deliver appropriate cover for your needs. Generally, you should have enough cover to make sure that you’ll be able to replace the float in the event of a total loss.
You may also want to consider the following:
- Does your income depend on it? If you need your horse float to earn a living, it is a good idea to make sure you can keep on earning even in the event of a total loss. Insuring at an agreed value and making sure you have comprehensive cover will generally cost more, but might be well worth it.
- Where and when you’ll be using it. How and where you tow the horse float will affect the types of risks you encounter. You might want to prioritise cover for the more likely hazards.
- What kind of excess you can afford. This can make a significant difference to your premiums, and it may be worth opting for a higher excess if you think you’re unlikely to make a claim.
Taking steps to maintain your float (wear and tear damage isn’t covered) and extend its lifespan will help limit your claims. If your horse float or trailer isn’t in good condition and you aren’t taking appropriate care of it, insurers may reject your claims.
Keeping your float safe and in good condition
Getting into the habit of routine maintenance can go a long way to keeping you, and your horses, safe.
Conduct appropriate preventative maintenance and check all of the following regularly, particularly if you haven’t used the float for an extended period:
- Interior. Clean it out thoroughly after every use. Old straw, urine and manure will damage the floor over time and can harbour bacteria that may cause a range of respiratory and other health issues in horses and anyone else who enters the trailer.
- Tyres. Check the tread and pressure of all tyres, including the spare. If any signs of wear and tear stand out, take a closer look and make sure the float is safe to drive.
- Wheels. Check that all fasteners are tight, and look for dents, cracks or deformity of the rims. These can affect function and make driving unsafe.
- Brakes. Test the brakes before taking the trailer out if it’s been sitting for a significant period of time.
- Wheel bearings. Lubricate or replace the wheel bearings when needed. Unusual noises can be an indication that there’s a problem.
- Lights. Make sure they’re in working order and carry spare light bulbs where possible.
- Suspension. Pay special attention to the state of the suspension, and keep it lubricated as needed.
- Ball and coupling. It should be lightly greased and flexible enough to avoid undue wear and tear. It can be a good idea to wrap it up with a waterproof bag when not in use.
- Chassis. Chips and scratches generally aren’t anything to worry about, but cracks which extend all the way through the body, no matter how thin, can have a severe impact on structural stability. If you find these problems and don’t fix them, an insurer may reject your claim.
- Float body. Look for signs of rust, mould or mildew and any other indicators of deterioration. Check the walls, the floor, the ceiling and the doors. Pay special attention to the front of the float where moisture from a horse’s breath can accelerate rusting. Anti-rust coatings can help a lot but can’t do it all.
When your float is not in use, it’s a good idea to park it under cover and on a stable concrete surface whenever possible. Putting a tarp over it can also help prevent fading and other damage.
You might want to specifically look over the terms of your insurance policy and look for specific exclusions that need to be addressed, such as whether you need to secure it in a particular way or if there are any security devices you can use to get a discount on your premiums.