Horse insurance cover options, exclusions, costs and more
Horses are much more expensive to keep than dogs and cats and they’re also capable of incurring much higher vet bills than smaller animals. Because it’s a good idea to protect your more valuable assets, getting cover for accidental injuries, vet bills and equine liability insurance may be essential for protecting your horse and yourself.
There are other risks to consider too, including damage to your riding equipment, trailers and other gear, theft or straying, loss of use and more. Horse insurance can financially protect you against a range of risks that horse owners regularly face. Having cover in place means security and confidence for all equine enthusiasts and professionals.
Contents of this guide
Do I really need horse insurance?
If you’re a horse lover, you’ll want to give your animal the best veterinary care possible. Similarly, if your horses are crucial to your occupation or to your ability to earn an income, you’ll want to make sure you can look after them in times of need.
Pet insurance is designed to help you cover eligible vet bills when your pet suffers an illness or accidental injury. Particularly for large animals like horses, vet bills for things like broken bones or severe illnesses can quickly add up to leave you with a whole lot of debt. Horse insurance can help cover many of the costs associated with giving your horse the treatment it needs, bringing you peace of mind when it comes to your much-loved pet.
- Horses are quite accident-prone. Studies have shown that the chances of making a horse insurance claim are 28 times greater than the chances of making a house insurance claim.
- Horses are an expensive investment. Insurance is designed to protect you from the risks you may not be able to afford to cover yourself. Whether you’re a recreational rider or an equine professional, horse insurance can deliver a valuable range of cover.
- There are a wide range of hazards. You need to watch out for a lot of potential risks with horses. Accidents and illnesses can strike at any time, as can thieves. Meanwhile, sports horses are very likely to be injured and the value of a thoroughbred or bloodstock horse can be exceptionally high.
- Public liability is a serious concern. Horses are capable of causing a lot of property damage and they can cause a person serious injury or even death. As a horse owner, your public liability is worth considering.
What does horse insurance cover?
The exact type of cover and level of reimbursement available will differ between policies and it’s a good idea to look for a policy that matches your needs. There are both general cover options that many people can take advantage of and more specialised cover options that are specifically for riding, breeding or other uses.
Common types of cover
If your insured horse dies or is put down on humane grounds as a result of an injury or illness sustained or contracted within the period of insurance, your policy will provide a benefit payment. You’ll need to notify your insurance company of the horse’s death within the period of insurance. Many policies will also offer an additional payment to help you cover the cost of a post mortem examination and an autopsy report.
The benefit you receive will generally not exceed the lower of either the market value of the horse listed on your policy schedule or the sum insured. There are also certain circumstances when a claim won’t be paid, such as if your horse is euthanised without a veterinarian deciding that it is essential and the most humane course of action. In addition, you won’t receive a benefit if your horse is destroyed by the order of any government, local authority or relevant governing body.
Veterinary fee cover
This feature is often not included in horse insurance policies as a standard and it will usually need to be added. Generally, it covers the cost of veterinarian fees resulting from the insured horse sustaining an injury as the result an accident or illness during the period of insurance.
Typically, you will be required to pay the first portion of vet fees, such as the first $500. There will also be an annual limit that you should be aware of. A range of exclusions may apply. You will not be able to claim costs relating to routine care, such as vaccinations, dentistry or congenital issues. Veterinary costs relating to foaling risks are generally not covered by this policy inclusion, but they can be covered under different policy inclusions.
Cover for loss of use
You will be paid a benefit if your horse suffers an accidental injury, illness or disease that renders it totally and permanently unable to fulfill its main purpose as specified in your policy schedule. In the case of such an event, you may be reimbursed a partial amount, such as 75% of the total value of the sum insured or market value.
This policy option can also include the euthanising of a horse for economic reasons instead of purely humanitarian ones, provided that it’s the opinion of both your veterinarian and the insurer that the horse is totally and permanently disabled and can no longer be used for the purpose specified in your policy schedule.
Cover for theft or straying
If your insured horse is stolen or strays within the insured period and is not recovered within 90 days, your policy will pay a benefit. Many policies will also cover the cost of any advertising used to try and track down a strayed or lost horse, plus the payment of a reward that leads to recovery. Remember that in the event of a theft or attempted theft, you must contact your local police station immediately and follow any instructions that they give.
Public liability cover
In certain circumstances, you and your horse might be deemed legally liable to pay for any expenses associated with the accidental death, bodily injury, illness or disease of any person, or the loss of or damage to property owned by a third party.
In these situations, horse insurance provides essential financial cover for your legal liability. The liability must be caused by, or arise in relation to, a horse named in your policy schedule. The expenses incurred often need to be within your insurer’s consent, for example, you should contact your insurer before hiring a lawyer to defend yourself against liability expenses in order to have those legal expenses covered.
Depending on the policy, the liability may need to occur within Australia. Also, your insurance might not cover the legal liability of your employees, or any injury or damage incurred while the horse is being ridden, driven or led.
Saddlery and tack cover
If you experience the loss of or damage to saddlery or tack belonging to you or family members living with you, you’ll receive a benefit amount for each horse. Per-item limits will typically apply to most policies and you’ll need to support any claim by providing proof of purchase or a valuation. To cover items stolen overnight, they must have been kept in a locked private house or building and you will need to inform the police of the theft as soon as reasonably possible.
Horse trailer cover
If any horse trailer or horse-drawn vehicle included in your policy suffers loss or damage as a result of a fire, theft or accident, your policy will pay a benefit. The benefit payment will often represent the lesser of the market value, the sum insured or the cost of repairs. In the event of a theft, you must notify the local police as soon as possible.
Cover while riding
Personal accident and dental cover
Under this section of your policy, a benefit will be paid when you or someone else with your permission is riding or in control of the horse and sustains an accidental bodily injury that leads to death or disablement. Benefits are typically available for accidental death, the loss of sight in one or both eyes, the loss of the use of one or more limbs, permanent total disablement and dental treatment.
Cover for loss of use (riding)
By specifying horseback riding as the main purpose for your horse, whether for personal or commercial reasons, you can get reimbursed if your horse suffers an accidental injury or illness that renders it permanently unable to be ridden.
Show horse and event cover
Cover for loss of irrecoverable entry fees
If you make a claim under the Mortality section of your policy following the death of your horse, you may also find that you are left with entry passes to shows or races that you have already paid for but that cannot be recovered. Your horse insurance policy will provide cover for the cost of those fees that you cannot recover, up to a certain limit.
Cover for loss of use (cosmetic)
If an injury, illness or cosmetic condition results in your horse being permanently disfigured and consequently no longer suitable for its main use as a show horse, racehorse or other purpose, as shown in your policy schedule, you’ll receive a benefit payment.
Thoroughbred, bloodstock, breeding and pregnancy cover
Stallion infertility cover
Depending on your policy and chosen options you can get insured for:
- A stallion proving to be congenitally infertile during its first season as a stud.
- A stallion becoming permanently infertile as a result of sickness, accident or disease.
You can get horse insurance to cover mares during pregnancy and foaling. Premiums are determined by the mare’s value, foaling record and age.
What does horse insurance generally not cover?
Just as you’d expect from any type of insurance policy, horse insurance comes with a range of exclusions. Your insurance claim will not be paid if:
- Your horse is euthanised without the insurer’s consent or without the opinion of a qualified veterinary surgeon.
- Your horse is euthanised under the order of any government or local authority.
- Your claim is for any surgical operation that is not approved by the insurer or carried out by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
- Your claim results from your horse being used for any purpose other than the one specified in your policy schedule.
- Your claim results from your horse being administered with drugs or medication that are not required for an injury, illness or disease.
- Your claim results from malicious injury caused by you, your family or your employees.
- Your claim is for disfigurement that has made your horse unfit for showing due to appearance, unless your policy includes “loss of use (cosmetic)” cover.
- Your claim is for abnormalities of the reproductive organs in a horse kept for breeding, unless your policy includes the appropriate “stallion infertility” cover.
- Your claim is related to a pre-existing condition, unless you informed the insurer of the condition and it is covered according to your policy schedule.
- Your claim is for the loss of or damage to any clothing, personal effects, clippers or harnesses used with any horse-drawn vehicle.
- Your claim is for loss of or damage to property resulting from mildew, wear and tear, depreciation, etc.
- Your claim is for a vehicle or trailer that is stolen from unlocked premises overnight, unless it is wheel clamped.
- Your claim is for the death or disablement of a person aged over 70.
- Your claim is for death or disablement while the insured person is engaging in racing of any kind, unless you have a highly specialised policy.
Important conditions applied to horse insurance policies
- The health of your horse. When you take out cover, your horse must be in sound health and not be suffering from any illness, disease, injury or physical disability. Existing abnormalities are not covered by most horse insurance policies.
- Compliance with veterinary advice. You must immediately seek advice from a veterinarian as soon as your horse falls ill or has an accident. You must also notify your insurer immediately. You must then follow the vet’s advice and recommendations in regards to treatment and rehabilitation. If your horse dies, you’ll need to arrange for a veterinarian to determine the cause of death via post mortem examination.
- Security of equipment. Insuring saddles, bridles, harnesses and other important pieces of riding equipment offers peace of mind to horse owners. However, you must ensure that these items are kept locked in a private house or building overnight. If they are not you will not be covered for the loss or theft of those items.
- Limitations of use. Take note that your horse must only be used for the purpose outlined in your insurance policy schedule. You will be unable to claim for anything that results from your horse being used for purposes other than those specified.
How much does horse insurance cost?
A number of factors can influence the cost of your horse insurance premiums, including:
- The age of your horse. Older animals are generally more likely to suffer from health problems and may take longer to recover from those problems. Expect this to be reflected in your premiums.
- Your horse’s gender. Some health conditions are more likely to affect male horses than female horses and vice versa.
- Your horse’s breed. Certain breeds cost more to buy and are also more prone to suffering from certain health conditions. You can expect to pay higher premiums as a result.
- The type of policy you choose. The higher the level of cover, the more you can expect to pay for premiums.
- The number of horses you insure. You may receive a discount for insuring multiple horses under the same policy, but it will naturally cost you more overall than insuring a single horse
- The cost of the items you insure. The more expensive your saddles, harnesses, horse trailers and horse-drawn vehicles are, the more you can expect to pay for cover.
How do I make a horse insurance claim?
You’ll need to take action as soon as possible after an insurable event takes place.
If your horse dies you’ll need to:
- Immediately notify your insurer.
- Have a post mortem examination completed and an autopsy report prepared by a licensed veterinarian, at your expense.
- Provide your insurer with a copy of the post mortem examination and autopsy report, as well as signed and sworn proof of loss.
In the event of straying, theft or malicious damage, make a report to your local police station as soon as possible.
Once you’ve notified your insurer, they will inform you of what you need to do to complete the claims process. You’ll typically have to fill out a claims form and provide supporting documentation for your claim.
You will have to pay an excess when you make a claim, though the exact amount will be calculated based on an assessment of risk. When calculating your benefit payment, your insurer will not pay a sum that exceeds the value of your horse, trailer or equipment as shown in your policy schedule.
A cooling-off period (typically 14 days in length) will apply to your horse insurance policy. This means you have 14 days, once you have been issued with your policy, to change your mind, cancel your cover and receive a full refund of any premiums you have paid.
When is a good time to take out horse insurance cover?
If you’re considering taking out horse insurance cover, it’s a good idea to get a veterinarian to examine your horse for any health problems before purchasing. However, even if your horse passes a vet’s examination, insurance companies may still specify a number of exclusions based on your animal’s health.
For your peace of mind, match your horse insurance to your needs and take out cover as soon as you feasibly can.