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Can Horses Be Insured? What About Racehorses?

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When you say the word insurance around most people, they tend to cringe. It’s something we all pay for in one way or another, whether it’s home, life, or auto. But what about a horse? Or, to be more specific, what about a racehorse? Can they be insured, and if so, what’s the cost?

Horses can be insured (whether barrel, trail, or other) with various insurance options, from mortality insurance, medical coverage, liability, and loss of use. Depending on the coverage you select, it could cost anywhere from $150 to $750 or more per annum.

In this article, we’ll review the basic types of horse insurance coverage available. We’ll also talk about what each type of coverage is and the basics of what it costs. Let’s dive right in.

What Kind Of Insurance Policies Are Available To Horse Owners?

Most people don’t think about insuring their animal, but insurance is critical when you own a valuable horse, and if you have to make an insurance claim, it can be a headache. Your best defense to an unfortunate situation is to arm yourself with knowledge.

picture of horse in pasture, insured,

Understanding the ins and outs of your horse insurance coverage options can drastically improve the claims process. And protecting your investment is essential given the cost of horses.

Whether you’ve got a trail horse, a stud, a barrel or racehorse, or even a show horse, you can get a variety of different types of insurance coverage.

Each type of insurance coverage has its merits, and some forms may be more valuable to you than others depending on what the intended horse’s use is.

Let’s take a look at the basic types of available horse insurance you can choose from that are available.

  • Mortality
  • Medical
  • Loss of Use
  • Liability

Mortality

Mortality insurance for your horse will cover things such as accidental death. The premium will depend almost entirely on the value of the horse. Factors that affect the premium you will pay for mortality insurance will be:

  1. Age of the horse
  2. Declared value
  3. Provable value
  4. Pre-existing conditions
  5. Horses use

Many if not most insurance agencies will require a veterinary exam as well as a copy of your receipt or invoice from purchasing the horse. If you bred a pair of horses and have a foal, the horse’s value determination may depend on the breed and fair market value.

Medical

Medical coverage for your horse is typically offered in two tiers: minor medical and major medical. The minor medical coverage is usually for smaller vet visits, diagnosis, necessary tests, and so forth. It usually has a maximum of $5,000 coverage and often has a deductible.

picture of harness racehorse,

Major medical horse insurance covers things like surgeries and more complicated or expensive procedures. A typical coverage limit is $10,000, and this also comes with a deductible amount. 

The deductible amounts vary from insurance brokerage to brokerage but often start at a few hundred dollars and can be as high as $1,000 or more. Much like auto insurance, the amount of deductible often reflects in the monthly cost. A high deductible will be cheaper than a low deductible.

Some brokers offer a cheaper version of medical coverage that only covers surgical procedures. However, it can vary from broker to broker, so it is best to do your homework and read the fine print.

Loss of Use

Loss of use insurance for horse owners is typically for horses that are racehorses, high-end breeders, dressage horses, Western pleasure, cutting horses, and high-end performance quarter horses, to name a few that are often insured.

In order to qualify for the loss of use insurance, a medical exam is usually a requirement, and mortality insurance is typically a prerequisite. This type of insurance may be difficult to claim due to the challenge of proving a horse is no longer viable for the intended role.

When a loss of use insurance seems like a good idea, it is advisable to read the fine print. Some insurance companies may require the horse to be euthanized or surrendered to the insurance company to collect the insurance claim.

Liability

For owners of training facilities with horses available for use by the general public, liability insurance is necessary. Similarly, if a horse is a racehorse, liability insurance is often required.

However, some states limit operators of equine activities liability from the inherent risks associate with horse riding. Louisiana law limits liability for an equine activity sponsor for the injury or death of persons participating in equine activities that result from horses’ inherent risks. La. R.S. 9:2795.1

If you operate an equine facility check with a lawyer to learn about the laws in your state, and what kind of insurance coverage you need. In States without limited liability for equine injury and death, insurance is vital.

Think of what would happen during a race if one horse fell and caused another horse or rider to face injury. In these situations, liability insurance would kick in to compensate others for the injuries or damages sustained.

In any situation where horses are used by or around anyone who is not the horse’s owner, liability insurance is an excellent common-sense idea.

How Much Does Insurance Cost (For A Horse)?

The cost of insurance for a horse will vary depending on a few things. The type and age of the horse, pre-existing conditions, and, of course, the types of coverage will all affect the price of horse insurance.

Here are some general numbers relatively typical in the United States for insurance rates and premiums for horses.

Type Of CoverageAverage Annual PremiumNotes
Mortality (limited or full coverage)2.6-4% of the horse’s value (min. Of $150/annum is typical)Coverage is affected by the declared value of the horse and pre-existing conditions
Minor Medical $150 – $250Coverage limit usually $5,000 per annumTypically covers minor vet bills like diagnosis and minor treatments
Major Medical/Surgical$175 – $500Coverage limit usually $10,000 per annumTypically doesn’t cover vet hospital stay costs
Loss Of Use (accidental or full loss coverage)varies on provable income generation and value of the horseIt can be challenging to proveTypically horses between 3 and 12 years of age
Liability$50-$150Covers if the horse accidentally hurts anyone or even another horse

Is Insurance For A Horse Worth It?

I buy mortality insurance on horses that are valued at over ten thousand dollars. I’ve yet to make a claim, but as a horse owner, you know how fragile they can be; one bad step can be fatal.

When a horse owner looks at all the expenses associated with horse ownership, adding a few hundred or even a thousand dollars a year may seem like a lot of money. However, the consequences might be much more expensive if one ignores insurance.

Picture of a woman with her horse.

Consider what would happen in a situation where one purchases a horse on a payment plan. What if a freak accident causes significant injury or even death to the horse.

One might find themselves in a situation where they are making payments for a deceased animal. In these situations, horse insurance is a no-brainer.

There may be times, however, when a horse is not worth insuring. For example, if a horse is a pleasure trail horse used by only the owner, it may not seem like insurance is a viable economic decision. 

The cost of veterinary procedures for horses can escalate quickly. Given the animal’s size, special facilities and training required to care for the horse in a veterinary setting can be expensive.

We owned a racehorse that developed colic and had to have corrective surgery and follow-up care with the veterinarian. The expenses for the procedure ran in the thousands. It is in these situations where medical coverage is a smart idea.

But how do we decide if the insurance is worth it? A good measure is to evaluate the cost of the horse weigh that cost against the risks in the horse’s intended role.

Some horse sports may be more dangerous than others. If a horse finds a use for said dangerous sport, insurance might seem like a smart idea but may cost considerably more due to the risk.

If a horse finds a use for any purpose that involves proximity to people other than the owner, liability insurance is just good business. It allows limiting the potential financial liability that could be present should anyone but the horse’s owner be injured by the horse.

In most cases, a minimum of mortality, minor medical, and liability (if applicable) are wise decisions and worth a few hundred per annum expense especially if your horse is making money.

The Last Lap

Whether owning a horse for pleasure riding or the racetrack, insurance is not a bad idea. Many horse owners and would-be owners believe that equine insurance is a high ticket item that might not be affordable.

However, it is quite affordable when you do the math, as minimum coverage is typically around a dollar a day or even less. If you have a horse and the horse is worth over $10,000, insurance is a must.

Similarly, if a horse owner doesn’t have the disposable income to cover emergency medical expenses, insurance is a wise choice to cover unexpected costs. The old saying that comes to mind is: It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Sources

  1. Featured image by Patrick Walrab von Buttlar from Pixabay.
  2. https://equusmagazine.com/horse-world/insure22227
  3. https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/health-archive/understand-equine-insurance
  4. https://www.caninejournal.com/compare-horse-insurance/
  5. https://www.horseillustrated.com/horse-keeping-types-of-equine-insurance
  6. https://horseandrider.com/how-to/equine-insurance-explained
  7. https://www.markelinsurance.com/horse-mortality