EQUESTRIAN INSURANCE

  • Q: Why do I have to insure my horse?
  • A: Even though you may pay out over many years and never make a claim, this is a better position to be in then being faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not you can afford to save the life of a much loved horse when the veterinary options are there but beyond your financial reach.
  • Q: Does my insurance cover me for stabling away from home?
  • A: Most horse policies will cover you for stabling away at a show anywhere in the UK with no problems, but you should always check with your own insurer to be certain. If you travel further afield and go abroad there are often limits to where you can go, how long you can stay and for what reasons. Also some companies will limit cover whilst you’re abroad so it’s always worth giving your insurer a ring if you plan to travel abroad. It’s also worth remembering that Public Liability cover often has very strict UK limits.
  • Q: How do insurance companies value a horse?
  • A: The majority of horse insurance policies are sold on a market value basis which means that in the event of a horse dying they will pay out the sum insured or the market value whichever is the lesser amount.  A good insurance broker will try to ensure that you value your horse realistically at the start of your policy in an effort to avoid this situation arising. If you insure your horse at the time of purchase, or very soon after it, an insurer will accept the price you paid as the horse’s realistic market value.  We often have people ask us if they can insure the horse for more than they paid as they “got a real bargain”, “bought him from a friend” or some other reason. However Insurers are not likely to accept this argument as if the horse were to die within the first few weeks of the policy the policyholder would be in profit and the idea of insurance is that it returns you to the same situation as you were in prior to the incident you are claiming for occurred.  If you have had the horse for several years and have not adjusted the value at each renewal you may find that the Insurer feels that the horse is not worth quite the same amount as it was when you first bought it and may wish to adjust the payout accordingly.  The Insurer will take several points in to consideration when making such an adjustment, the most common ones being injuries which have affected performance or the lack of a consistent performance record. If Insurers were going to dispute the value they would normally consult with a dealer who was a specialist in the type of horse they were valuing.  If you do not agree with the arguments given for reducing your horse’s value you would be at liberty to get your own valuation from an independent dealer and challenge this with the insurer.  Finally if you do reach agreement with your insurer over a reduced value for your horse in most instances you will be entitled to a refund of the part of the premium you had to pay for insuring the horse for the higher amount.
  • Q: Can I insure my veteran horse?
  • A: The answer in short is yes. A lot of companies will now give full cover to horses right up to the age of 20 providing they have been insured before the age of 17 years old. The normal policy for older horses covers them for death caused by accidental external visible means, for example, a kick, or a cut. Plus you can normally add limited veterinary fees, which again, would cover for accidental external visible injuries only. Due to the increased risk as horses grow older, neither of these would cover for illness or internal problems like strains, colic etc. You should also ensure you are covered for public liability. If you are a member of a society such as the BHS you may already have this as part of your benefits but if not this should definitely be part of a horse policy.
  • Q: Do all insurance companies cover you for the same procedures or do I need to look more closely at specific treatments? For example, MRI scanning?
  • A: It is always worth checking with your specific insurer if there are any restrictions on the amount of vets fee cover used for diagnostic purposes or any procedures that are excluded, as some companies do restrict their policies in this way.
  • Q: I have owned my horse for several years but previously didn’t have him insured, do I need to have my horse checked by a vet before I take out insurance?
  • A: As you have owned the horse but not insured him for the 24 months or more, most insurers are going to require you to provide a Veterinary Certificate. If you were selling the horse you would expect any prospective purchaser to have the horse examined by a vet and in essence the risk being taken by the insurance Underwriter is the same.  It is also a safeguard for yourself, as it proves to an Underwriter that your horse was healthy at the inception of the policy and should it then develop an illness where the onset is difficult to pinpoint it should help prevent any disputes.
  • Q: Can I get alternative therapies covered by insurance?
  • A: Most Insurers will give some cover for alternative therapies provided they are at the recommendation of a Veterinary Surgeon.
  • Q: What does all risks of mortality mean?
  • A: This is the starting point for almost all horse insurance policies and most companies will insist you take this cover as the core of your policy before adding other relevant sections. It covers death from accident, sickness or disease and normally theft as well. Once the horse reaches a certain age, which will vary from company to company, this will usually be restricted to death from accidental, external, visible injury only. This cover will compensate you for the destruction of a horse only if there are undisputable medical reasons for it and not if you decide to have the horse destroyed because you believe it to be in the animal’s best interests as it is unsuited to light hacking or retirement.
  • Q: What does veterinary fee cover protect me for?
  • A: This is the cover the vast majority of people require; often insuring their horses for a relatively small value just to have this protection. Cover can vary from company to company and although the most obvious points to check are the indemnity limit and the excess it is also worth checking what is covered as regards to alternative therapies and hospitalisation. As with the ‘All risks of Mortality’ cover, older horses will normally have their cover restricted. Some companies restrict the cover given to lower priced horses so if you are insuring a horse for less than its realistic market value, ensure that you do not go to a value so low that cover is restricted. Many companies will now give you the option of taking a higher excess and reducing the premium as you can do with car insurance, this is often a good option if insuring several horses as the savings can be quite substantial.
  • Q: What is Third Party Liability?
  • A: Unlike with our cars there is no legal requirement to insure your horse against third party liability however it is the type of cover that’s advisable for every horse owner. No one is immune from having a claim made against them and although you may think your youngsters in the field can do no harm you would be surprised by the number of claims we get for damage to property caused by loose horses. Membership of some societies such as the British Horse Society, British Eventing, British Dressage and British Showjumping offer third party liability cover as a benefit of membership but do check that you have adequate cover in place before deciding that it is appropriate to exclude it from your horse insurance policy. Although claims are not common when they are made they can run into many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  • Q: What exactly does it mean when I have exclusions placed on my policy and are these removable?
  • A: Underwriters often impose exclusions on equine policies for conditions which have a possibility of recurrence. Sometimes these exclusions are placed at the start of a policy based on information supplied such as conditions mentioned on a Veterinary Certificate and other times they are placed at the renewal of a policy when a claim has been made. It is important to understand that equine policies are normally annual contracts which mean terms can be altered at each renewal. Sometimes exclusions are placed at a renewal when you have not yet completed a claim. This does not affect the claim that is in progress, it simply means that you cannot then claim again on the following year’s policy for the same incident.  Sometimes exclusions are reviewable after the horse has fully recovered and if the Underwriters veterinary advisors are satisfied that the condition is unlikely to recur. It is always therefore worth discussing any exclusions fully with your broker who can then put your case forward to the Underwriters. However do bear in mind that you will not always get the outcome you would wish as Underwriters experience in terms of recurring problems may differ greatly from that of your own vet. In short though, it is always worth discussing any exclusions that you feel are unfair with your insurer as they can often get them either lifted or the scope of them reduced.
  • Q: Can I only insure for vets fees?
  • A: Many people ask us if it is possible to insure just for the vet fees and not include any form of Mortality, Theft or Loss of Use. However this is not usually possible as insurers need to insure the other sections to ensure they have enough premium to cover the high cost of vet fees.
  • Q: Does it really matter what my limit is on vets fees?
  • A: Veterinary Fees for a serious problem can run in to thousands of pounds either for diagnosis or treatment, or on many occasions both. Most insurance companies have specific things which are not covered by Veterinary Fee Cover as these will vary from policy to policy, it is therefore a good idea to check what is not covered. Some companies, for example, restrict the amount spent on diagnostic procedures until a definitive diagnosis is made, others do not pay the full cost of MRI scans and most exclude the cost of transporting a horse to Veterinary Referral Centre and livery costs (though not nursing care) when a horse is an in-patient at an equine hospital. This is why it is imperative to choose your insurer wisely as a seemingly cheap policy can turn out to be a costly investment in the instance of a claim.
  • Q: If I bought a horse as a youngster and his value has now increased how do I assess how much he’s worth and how easy is it to change this with my insurance?
  • A: Probably the easiest way to assess his value is by looking at adverts to see what horses of similar breeding with a similar competition history are selling for. Alternatively you could talk to a reputable dealer who specialises in this type of horse and ask them what they consider is an appropriate value. If you’re making a significant change to your horses value it’s likely an insurance company will ask you for an up to date Veterinary Certificate as obviously a horse with an underlying medical condition, which could well not be showing in the course of normal work and may be unknown to you as the owner, would significantly reduce the horses value on the open market. As you would almost certainly have to obtain a Veterinary Certificate for the valuation increase it would be relatively easy to change companies. Whichever company you chose would be likely to ask for a justification for the increase in value and if they did not feel that competition results alone justified the change they may ask for an independent valuation. It is also important to bear in mind that if something were to happen to your horse and the insurer felt they were not worth the amount insured for they will adjust the payout accordingly. The insurer will take several points into consideration when making such an adjustment, the most common ones being injuries which have affected performance or the lack of a consistent performance record. If Insurers were going to dispute the value they would normally consult with a dealer who was a specialist in the type of horse they were valuing.
  • Q: I’m just about to buy a new horse, do I need to have insurance from the day I take ownership of him?
  • A: When you first take possession of a new horse you can feel very vulnerable and it is always a good idea to make sure you are fully protected whilst you are getting to know your new equine friend. Many insurance companies will offer restricted cover to begin with and this will vary from company to company. Some insurers will not offer cover for illnesses for the first 14 days of a policy which will mean you’re protected in the event of an injury occurring, but not if the horse is taken ill. Other companies may exclude any condition that could have been masked by painkillers (usually unless you have had a blood test which has proved the horse has not been given any medication).  As horses can become unsettled during a move and may be unpredictable it is imperative that you have insured yourself for public liability during this period as well.
  • Q: I’ve never owned a horse before, what do I need to consider when taking out insurance?
  • A: You will need to look carefully at the different types of insurance available to decide which suits your needs the most. The starting point for almost all horse or pony policies is ‘All Risks of Mortality’ which covers you against death from accident, sickness or disease and normally theft as well. ‘Veterinary Fee Cover’ is what most people require and will pay the cost of vet’s bills in the event of an illness or injury. Cover can vary across the different insurers so always check your excesses and what is included as regards to alternative therapies and hospitalisation. You can also look at adding ‘Loss of Use’ to your policy which will compensate you in the event that your horse becomes permanently incapable of fulfilling the purpose for which it is insured. It is important to shop around and get the best policy for your requirements, however don’t be fooled in to just taking the cheapest option. Look at all the elements of the policy as what may seem cheap at the time could be costly if you are not covered in the event of a claim.
  • Q: If my horse is injured when should I notify my insurance?
  • A: When an accident or injury occurs the initial priority is obviously your horse’s welfare, however notifying your insurance company can help ensure any claims go through smoothly. We would normally advise our clients that if they have called the vet they are much better to inform us at that stage because even though an injury may look minor if it deteriorates at a later stage not having advised at the outset could prejudice their claim.
  • Q: Can I buy separate insurance for my saddlery and tack?
  • A: Saddlery & tack cover can be added to your horse insurance for an additional premium. This will protect you in the event that your equipment is accidentally damaged, lost, stolen or destroyed. Some policies can also include equipment such as rugs and boots, but always check your policy details. There can be various levels to a saddlery & tack policy, dependent on the value you wish to insure, but as a rule of thumb most have an upper limit of £2,000 for tack cover to be added to your horse policy. If you need more than £2,000 you will more than likely need to do one of the following. Add tack cover to your household policy under the “all risk” section of your policy. Under the all risk section your saddlery and tack should be covered when you are away from home, for example at a show, and/or during transportation. However, household policies may be subject to a maximum single article limit and may not cover you if your tack is not kept at home over night. If you do keep your tack away from your main residence over-night a specific equine contents policy is likely to be more suitable. If you do decide to take out a saddlery & tack policy, items must be kept in a locked building and some insurance companies may even specify particular safety measures, such as a 5 lever mortice deadlock/padlocks. Some policies offer the chance to replace “new for old”, which means your tack is insured for the cost it would be to purchase it as new. However this is usually at a higher cost and if equipment is several years old it may be more affordable to take out a policy based on the current market value. Do bear in mind that insurance companies generally won’t pay for damage that occurs when tack is being cleaned, dyed, repaired or restored, and general wear and tear is not covered.

BREEDING INSURANCE

  • Q: What Insurance should I take out for my broodmare?
  • A: Most standard insurance policies will offer breeding as a use option in the lowest category. We would suggest that you took all risks of mortality cover and veterinary fees but loss of use for breeding is not usually an option taken. Other options such as tack cover and third party liability would be purely a matter of personal choice and may be covered elsewhere.
  • Q: Will my vet fees cover the mare for pregnancy related problems?
  • A: This is always a point to check with the particular company involved but most (including all of those offered by Shearwater) will cover for complicated foaling and/or abnormalities during pregnancy but will not cover any routine procedures such as scans nor for the attendance of a vet to check all is well at a normal foaling. Also no treatment required by the foal either during or immediately after birth would be covered by the mare’s policy.
  • Q: How soon can my foal be insured?
  • A: This varies from company to company but normally a foal can be covered for death from 24 hours old and veterinary fees can be added at a later stage usually around the thirty day point. Other than third party liability, if this is not covered elsewhere this is probably the only cover you would want until the horse was being ridden.
  • Q: Is it possible to insure the foal before it is born?
  • A: Prospective foal insurance is available but as it’s high risk it’s quite an expensive policy. It must be taken out quite early in the pregnancy and it does require a lot of medical checks on the mare including negative twin scans etc. It’s really only cost effective if you have paid a very high stud fee and is most popular amongst breeders of expensive racehorses.
  • Q: I run a stud and have visiting mares in to use my stallion, what insurance cover do I require?
  • A: If you are running any commercial equestrian business it’s always wise to have public liability insurance which will cover you in the event of the horses escaping and causing damage or somebody being hurt on your yard if you are proved liable. If you keep horses on your premises which are not your own it’s also strongly recommend that you have care, custody and control insurance which will cover you in the event that you’re proved to be negligent in the care of those horses whilst they are in your charge. It should be said however that these policies usually do not extend to cover any injury caused to a mare whilst she is being covered by the stallion. It’s therefore advisable that all mare owners are asked to sign a disclaimer agreeing that they accept this risk prior to allowing your stallion to cover.

EQUESTRIAN PROPERTY

  • Q: My friend uses my ménage to teach her clients, should I include this in my insurance or is she responsible?
  • A: If your friend is paying you for the use of your ménage you may require a commercial policy so it is worth checking this with your insurance company. If your friend has a valid instructor’s policy it will cover them for anything for which they could be liable. However if there was a problem due to the surface of the school or a faulty gate or something along those lines there could be a claim made against you. Therefore you should ensure that you have cover in place to cover you for any eventuality.
  • Q: What are the insurance implications for equipment such as quad bikes and paddock cleaners, who can use them and what insurances are necessary?
  • A: These can be insured though depending on the value they may require to be stored within a building and secured to a permanent structure, or within an alarmed area. In the event of a claim typically an amount is deducted for wear and tear. Make sure you have adequate public liability and/or employers’ liability if you have any employee using such items.
  • Q: Who is responsible for insuring fencing, and if a horse escapes, who is liable?
  • A: If a horse escapes, liability would normally be on the person who is responsible for fencing maintenance – this could be the premises owner / occupier or in some cases people who rent/lease premises and take over responsibility for the fencing.
  • Q: Are there deterrents or actions you can put in place which can help bring down your premiums for expensive equipment such as quad bikes and machinery?
  • A: This is very tricky, the best thing you can do is to make sure the security on and around the items are top notch. Premiums for expensive equipment tend to be more expensive as a rule because they are a lot more desirable to thieves and the like. So making sure they are securely stored is the best way to bring down your premium.
  • Q: If a livery’s horse injures itself on a fence how can a livery yard owner protect themselves against any comeback on them?
  • A: The yard owner / proprietor can take out care, custody & control (aka custodial) liability insurance, usually as part of an insurance package including public liability. This would protect them in the event that a livery horse injured itself whilst in their care or on their property if the horse owner’s tried to hold them liable. Different levels of cover are available to suit various business needs from the small livery yard to large competition yards.
  • Q: Can I get my horsewalker insured?
  • A: You can under an equestrian property owners insurance policy, which would cover the item for most insurable perils. Should you need it covered for mechanical breakdown, this is also something worth considering as it may be costly to repair. Your cover should protect you against aspects such as impact by any vehicle or animal and malicious vandalism.
  • Q: If I have horses in for schooling or rehabilitation do I need specific insurance?
  • A: If you are taking horses on to your yard for rehabilitation of any sort your yard liability cover should have a care, custody and control aspect which covers you in the event of you being liable for any injury to a horse in your care. It is always a good idea to let your insurer know that you use a horsewalker in the course of the rehabilitation but I would expect a standard policy to cover this. Equally when horses come in for training you would require yard liability and care, custody and control on your insurance which would cover you for anything you did with the horse on or off the premises.
  • Q: I allow my friend to hold clinics in my school and in return they help with my horses – do I need to notify my insurers of this, or does their instructor’s policy cover this?
  • A: If you allow someone to use your sand school in exchange for help with your horses this would be deemed the same as hiring the school and money changing hands, so in short, yes you should notify your insurers. If your friend has a valid instructor’s policy it will cover them for anything for which they could be liable. However if there was a problem due to the surface of the school or a faulty gate or something along those lines there could be a claim made against you. Therefore you should ensure that you have cover in place for the hiring out of your school, even if no money has changed hands.
  • Q: If I rent or own a yard do I need liability?
  • A: Whether you own or rent the land your horses are kept on, and regardless of whether it is used for your own private use, or if you have other people’s horses there – either as a livery business or just friend’s horses – one of the most important elements of insurance you need to consider is liability. If a horse escaped from your premises and caused third party property damage due to a gate being left open, fences not being maintained or even if the horse jumped out, or should a member of the public approach your horse over a gate and get bitten, you need to ensure you are protected against any legal comeback. No amount of disclaimers can prevent you being held liable if a third party can show that you were negligent and you would also bear the costs of defending yourself which could quite easily escalate to more than the cost of insurance from a single incident, as well as the inconvenience. You can also include property owners liability within your insurance which protects you in the event that a member of the general public was injured on your land, or around your buildings. In addition, even if you only have your own horses on your premises but allow other people to use your arenas, jumps or fields, whether for free or if you charge, should they have an accident they could hold you liable in the event they or their horse were injured or they incurred damage to their property whilst on your premises. Your own personal liability would not usually cover you in this event as it is deemed a “commercial” risk.
  • Q: What happens if my equestrian property is under-insured?
  • A: When insuring your equestrian property, whether you have two stables and a field, or twenty boxes, ménage and an all weather gallops – the first thing you need to ensure is that your property is valued correctly. It is not uncommon for customers to under-insure their property – which means that in the event of a claim they will bear a rateable portion of the financial outlay. For example, if your insurance covers your property for £200,000 but the rebuild cost would be £400,000, you would be 50% under insured for any claim. Even if your claim was for £20,000 you would still only receive 50%, in this case a £10,000 payout. To protect against this customers should consider all aspects when calculating a rebuild cost of any property, including materials, professional fees and including removal of debris in cases of a total loss. If you are still unsure seek professional advice from either a surveyor or local builder.
  • Q: What are the most common claims made on equestrian property insurance and do you have any advice on how to best protect against them occurring?
  • A: The kind of claims that are commonly made on equestrian property policies are things like fire for non-standard buildings, i.e. wooden buildings. These can be difficult to avoid but ensuring you have adequate fire precautions in place can help reduce the risk. Another common claim is tack theft. Clearly these are highly desirable goods and typically worth a lot of money. This is why Shearwater policies require a minimum of bars on all windows and closed shackled padlocks to secure the tack room if the total value exceeds £2000. If the total value exceeds £4000, an audible alarm must be installed and sometimes a central station alarm for higher values. Theft of high value quad bikes is also an unfortunate regular occurrence. Again this is a matter of security, lock any machinery away in a standard construction building and securely lock it to a permanent structure and remove keys from the lock(s) or ignition.
  • Q: I already pay out for buildings and contents insurance for my house; does this not mean my stables are covered as well?
  • A: Equestrian properties are a niche market and require specific cover to ensure all aspects are protected. A standard household policy is not designed for the non standard nature of an equestrian property and therefore tends to only offer limited protection. Equestrian policy wording is tailored and designed to take in to account that the horses are the main residents of the property. You should also bear in mind that many household insurers will not cover you for all of your equestrian equipment. In the event of items such as show jumps, feed, hay, bedding and tack being damaged or stolen, the financial consequences could be disastrous if adequate cover is not held – not to mention the inconvenience, so by using a specific equestrian insurer you can have peace of mind that all your valuable possessions are protected.
  • Q: I don’t run a livery yard but friends stable their horses with me, do I need specific insurance?
  • A: As soon as you begin taking any kind of financial contribution for the use of your premises, in an insurer’s eyes you are changing the use from domestic to commercial, whether you have 2 liveries or 22! Even if you are receiving ‘in kind’ payment from friends to house their horses, a domestic insurer would not cover you, so the first thing you need to do is investigate a specific policy that is designed to take in to account the commercial aspect of your premises. You have a duty of disclosure to advise your current insurer what you are using the premises for. Should you fail to notify them any potential claim may be denied and/or your policy may be cancelled which you also need to notify any future insurer of when attempting to re-insure your premises. The main difference and most important aspect is liability. If one of your friends’ horses escaped and caused any third party property damage because a gate was left open who would be liable? Livery yard liability can cover you for such circumstances. This also covers you if members of the public go up to a fence and stroke a horse that subsequently bites them. No amount of disclaimers can prevent you being held liable if the livery or member of public can prove that you were negligent in some way. Additionally, property owners’ liability is included within livery yard liability which protects you against instances where members of the general public were injured on your land or in or around your buildings. This aspect is also available in isolation for private yards.

EQUESTRIAN LIABILITY

  • Q: What is public liability?
  • A: This type of insurance is designed to cover you for any claim made against you by a member of the public due to injury and/or third party property damage and will also include property owners liability covering you for people getting injury in, on or around your property; it will also cover you for any legal fees incurred in defending yourself against such a claim. It is not a legal requirement but a highly desirable type of insurance to have. If your horses are kept at home and they are insured individually against any third party claims or you have membership of a society which offers liability cover as a benefit of membership it may not be necessary to have a separate policy. However if you have liveries, a riding school or horses that you ride for other owners, you will require a separate policy.
  • Q: Do I need public liability cover?
  • A: Although claims are not common under this insurance when they are made they can run into many hundreds of thousands of pounds. So the question is can you afford not to take out this policy should the worst happen?
  • Q: What is employers’ liability and do I really need this?
  • A: This insurance is designed to cover you for any personal injury claims made against you by an employee. It will also cover you for any legal fees incurred in defending yourself against such a claim. It is a legal requirement for any employer whether their employees are paid or not. You are required to display your certificate of employers liability insurance at all times. If you keep your horses at home and there is no commercial aspect at all to your yard it may be possible to include any groom you employ as a domestic employee which would be covered by a standard household insurance. Shearwater offers specialist household policies for people who keep their horses at home; please call to enquire. Not all household policies would cover grooms so it is essential that you check with the insurer involved and make sure you comply with the law. If there is any commercial aspect to your yard at all (even if it is only one paying DIY livery) it will be necessary to have a separate policy in place.
  • Q: What is care, custody & control insurance?
  • A: This is an insurance designed to cover you for any claims made against you by the owner of a horse which is injured whilst in your care and is not covered under the public liability section. Care, custody and control covers the horse, public liability covers the members of the general public. It may seem an unlikely eventuality and therefore you may feel safe omitting it from your cover particularly if all the horses in your charge are individually insured. However do remember that relationships with even the most reasonable owner can turn sour if their much loved horse is injured.
  • Q: Why do you need my Employers Reference Number (ERN) and/or PAYE reference?
  • A: The Financial Conduct Authority – the financial sector’s regulatory body – has introduced new rules which mean that insurers and brokers will now ask for additional information when arranging employers’ liability insurance with you.This downloadable guide will help to explain what information you will need to have, where you can find it, why you are being asked for it and the benefits that this will have for your employees.
  • Q: What is instructors liability insurance?
  • A: This is an insurance designed to cover you should anyone you are teaching make a claim against you. It will also cover you for any legal fees incurred in defending yourself against such a claim. If you teach at all or hold clinics it would be wise to take this cover. However be aware that there are many different policies available and you should take the trouble at the start of the policy to check exactly what you are covered for. For example, some policies offer European cover while others do not, some cover you for teaching at home, some only for teaching at clients premises and some do not, some cover you for getting on a clients horse to school or demonstrate a point and others do not.

HORSE INSURANCE

  • Q: Why use a specialist insurance broker?
  • A: When people first insure horses, they are generally advised go to a specialist broker or direct insurer for the added support, expertise and service through this difficult and complicated process. A great deal of people think that by going to a direct insurer rather than a broker, they will get to a decision maker more directly regarding claims and cover problems, but this is rarely actually the case. The person you talk to on the telephone is rarely the person who makes the decisions, and most larger brokers have an underwriting decision maker working very closely with them, so decisions take a similar amount of time whichever way you go.
  • Q: What exactly is meant by accidental external visible injury?
  • A: This is a question which causes a lot of problems to clients but generally speaking, it means an injury which cannot be attributed in any way to general wear and tear, has definitely been caused by an accident, and the damage can be seen. It does not include tendon strains for example as although these may be caused by a slip or fall there is no way it can be definitely proved that this is not the result of a weakening of these structures due to general wear and tear. However a broken leg would be covered as that would always be as the result of a single injury.
  • Q: Can I cover myself for personal accident?
  • A: The type of personal accident cover that can be added to a horse policy is usually a very low cost addition but the cover offered is also fairly restrictive, paying out on death or loss of an eye or limb. If you wish to be covered for more than this you would need to take out a separate policy.
  • Q: My horse passed its five stage vetting. Why are you putting exclusions on my policy?
  • A: You have asked your veterinary surgeon to examine the horse and advise you on its suitability for purchase. If they have put provisos on the certificate which they believe will not affect the horse’s ability to perform the tasks you require of it they are not saying that these provisos will never require veterinary treatment and you do then have the option not to proceed with the purchase. Choosing to accept these provisos is up to you but in some cases the underwriter would have decided on evidence based on the laws of probability that the risk is too great. A perfect example of this is a horse which has been X-Rayed and shown to have a bone chip. Your vet who, will have the benefit of seeing the X-Rays and therefore assessing on an individual basis whether or not it is in a place likely to cause a problem, may advise you to proceed with the purchase. Underwriters however will look at their probability chart and see that bone chips often require removal at considerable cost and will therefore not offer cover on that particular aspect of the horse. Although it may seem unfair to you it is only by working within parameters such as these that it is possible to offer horse insurance at all. A similar situation is motor insurance, where Mr X who is 20 years old and has been driving for three years without problems is less likely to find cover for an expensive sports car than Mr Y who is 30 years old but only passed her test last week. This may seem unfair but the laws of averages show 30 year old drivers are less likely to have accidents than 20 year old ones.
  • Q: My policy is renewed whilst I am in the middle of a claim and my new policy has an exclusion for the condition I am claiming for. Is this allowed?
  • A: Each policy has a term of one year and each year of account is detailed separately by the underwriters when they work out profit and loss and set the rates. For this reason each veterinary fee claim must be allocated to the year of account that has received the premium for that particular policy. Horse illness and injury does not always happen at the most convenient time and therefore you always have one year from the date of injury to continue claiming whether or not the renewal date falls within this period. However to ensure that the payments are not allocated to the incorrect year of account and that the same injury is not paid out for twice an exclusion is always placed on any policy renewing within the term of a claim which is not yet completed and signed off.
  • Q: My horse strained a tendon last year and was rested the scan shows he has now recovered but my insurers are insisting that I have an exclusion for both front legs. Why?
  • A: Again we are back to laws of averages. Some illnesses and injuries which horses suffer from have been proven to be recurring and companies will therefore make every effort to save themselves from having to pay the same claim several times. Companies, however, do vary as regards the scope of the exclusions they impose, and if you feel that your exclusion is too wide then it might be worth shopping around. A specialist broker has a true understanding of horses which means they are often able to discuss these exclusions with underwriters on your behalf and perhaps get them lifted or amended.
  • Q: I paid £2,500 for my horse but I got him at a bargain price why will you not let me insure him for £5,000?
  • A: The idea of insurance is that it covers you for any losses that you may suffer and not that it puts you in a position to make a profit. As most of the policies on the market currently have a market value clause and the market value in a case like this would be deemed to be the price paid if we accepted the premium on a higher value we would be cheating you out of money. Also we try our utmost to ensure disputes about value are always at the inception of a policy and not whilst you are suffering the trauma of losing a horse.
  • Q: My horse is 18 years old. Why can he only have restricted cover?
  • A: Insurers have found over the years that as horses get older they are much more inclined to suffer from illnesses, so much so that it’s completely uneconomical for them to offer insurance of this type on older horses. They therefore usually restrict cover to include only death from accidental external visible means and veterinary cover for the same problems. However times are changing and they are becoming a little more enlightened on this as more and more horses are continuing their competitive careers into their late teens and early twenties. There are therefore more companies now which will offer full cover on horses up to higher ages of 20 years or so, though this is sometimes restricted to horses renewing with them only and then only if they have a good claims history. Some companies now include colic cover in their overage policies as this is usually a huge worry to owners as they are scared of the cost of major surgery. If however you do want full cover or cover that includes colic costs on your average policy expect to pay quite steeply increased premiums from those required on younger horses, as the risk is significantly increased. Loss of use cover is not normally available on horses over 15 years of age although this can be specially negotiated on competition horses which can prove they are still seriously competing.
  • Q: My horse has been vetted for sale and failed. Why can I not claim loss of use?
  • A: Loss of use or permanent incapacity insurance is a very often misunderstood form of insurance. The above question is a form of one that we get asked on a regular basis. This type of insurance is designed to compensate you if your horse is unable to perform the function for which you have insured it. If your horse has got to the stage of being vetted for sale the chances are you are not aware of the physical problem it may have. At the time of the vetting a problem may come to light which has never affected the horses ability to perform but which the vets feel may do so at a later date and they therefore cannot recommend the buyer to proceed however the horse at this time has not lost his use and cannot therefore justify a claim under this type of policy. This is a very tricky situation to find yourself in but regrettably, like behavioural problems, this is not something you can insure yourself against.
  • Q: My horse is homebred and I did not bother insuring him until now as he is about to start competing. He has never had anything wrong with him, why do I have to have him vetted?
  • A: He may well have nothing wrong with him but you would not be surprised if you were offering him for sale and the prospective buyer wanted him vetted. The insurer is taking a very similar risk so it makes sense for him to take the same safeguards.
  • Q: My horse injured itself five months ago and it did not seem too bad. Complications mean that I now need to put in a claim, but my renewal fell in between the initial injury and now and my insurance brokers say I cannot make a claim. Why?
  • A: As the underwriters base premiums on the results of previous years, if a policy is concluded with no claims made against it or notification of possible claims in place if it were re-opened it would distort concluding figures and mean that any premiums set would be based on inaccurate conclusions. The simple solution is to always inform your insurance company if you require the attendance of your veterinary surgeon. This means that if the policy is due for renewal and another visit is required within the year for the same condition it will be paid.
  • Q: Do I need to have loss of use cover if I know I would have my horse put to sleep if I could not ride him anymore?
  • A: The difference between mortality cover and loss of use cover is hindered by the terms that we use. Humane destruction is a term most people use to describe the decision to have a horse destroyed if they believe that it is the best thing for the horse for whatever reason. However the insurance industry use it to mean the destruction of a horse when to keep it alive would be inhumane in physical terms only.Consider the following example. You had a horse which had damaged a leg so badly it would only ever be sound enough to retire to a field and not be ridden. But you know the horse’s temperament would not be suited to such a life and you therefore decide to have the horse put to sleep. Your insurance company would not consider this to be a valid all risks of mortality claim as the horse is physically capable of remaining alive without suffering. However it would be a valid claim for loss of use and a decision to have the horse put down would result in the largest possible payout on this type of cover.On the other hand, if your horse severed its tendon or broke its leg and it was therefore unable to walk at all and your vet advised that the only course of action available to you was to put the horse down, this would be a bona fide mortality claim.

HORSEBOX / TRAILER

  • Q: Do I really need breakdown cover with my transport insurance?
  • A: The services that you receive from your breakdown organization will depend on the company you use and the level of cover you take out. In the case of transporting horses, or any livestock, you are always advised to ensure you have as comprehensive a cover as possible – and always check with the company that they’ll assist with the horses should they require alternative transport. For this reason, it’s beneficial to use a specific company who will be knowledgeable and sympathetic to your problems should the occasion arise. It is also worth ensuring that anyone over the age of 25 is covered to drive the vehicle. This should not cost any more to do and in the event that you are unable to drive will make sure you are fully protected. Things to also bear in mind are that most companies offer standard breakdown insurance, however the ‘standard’ cover can vary. Look for a policy that includes home start and/or yard start and onward transport of your horses in a separate vehicle if necessary. Be careful of policies whereby you have to organise your own transport and mechanics before billing your breakdown company, this may offer a lower premium but in the event of an incident do you really want to have to deal with consequences should you be in an unknown area, or stuck somewhere in the middle of the night? Trailer insurance will not automatically include breakdown cover, however many companies do offer it as an add-on. Look for a policy that gives total breakdown cover in the UK, including emergency road assistance, long distance recovery and home breakdown for trailer owners. In the event of a breakdown, which couldn’t be repaired – this policy would organize alternative transport for the horses. This is something you should always check when taking out a breakdown cover.
  • Q: Do I legally have to insure my trailer?
  • A: You don’t have to have a separate policy for a trailer as during use, when it is attached to a car that’s insured sufficiently, your trailer is covered by third party liability. This means if you cause any damage to property or other vehicles you will be insured. However this will not cover you for theft or damage to the trailer itself so it’s always advisable to take out a separate insurance to protect you in the event that it’s stolen or involved in an accident.
  • Q: Is my friend covered by his or her own insurance to drive my horsebox or trailer?
  • A: Your friend would only be covered to drive the horsebox should they be named on your policy or you have an ‘any driver policy’. This can have restrictions so check your policy wording. For example, it may only cover drivers over 25 years old. Even if they have their own car or horsebox insurance, it would not cover them to drive your horsebox. In terms of trailer insurance, the trailer itself is covered no matter who is towing it with the owner’s permission providing they are insured on the vehicle they are towing with. This would be covered when attached to a private car under the ‘towing risk’ section of the client’s policy wordings or it could be specified on the private car policy.
  • Q: If I want to give friends’ horses a lift in my lorry, can I do this without voiding my insurance?
  • A: In the event that you wish to transport other people’s horses, providing you are not making a profit from them, this will still be classed as social, domestic and pleasure use so you will be protected. If you do wish to charge a fee above the maintenance costs you will need to contact VOSA to discuss whether you need a transporting licence and you will then need to review your policy with your insurers to ensure the correct level of cover is in place. It may mean that you will need a commercial transport policy.

For equestrian claims: Call 01992 707318

For all other claims: Call 01992 707155

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