I would be interested to know, from a horse owner standpoint, how many people choose to insure their horses for loss of use and/or major medical coverage versus straight mortality coverage?
I have insured my own personal horses for just mortality in the past, since as a veterinarian I can get my work done at a little better deal than the average horse owner. But, what horse insurance comes down to, in my opinion, is how much money are you willing to walk away from and not have a problem with it.
If your horse is legitimately worth more than the figure you just stated, then insurance is for you. While you’re posting your thoughts, I would be more interested to know what criteria people use to determine incorporating major medical and loss of use coverage, too. On breeding stallions, that choice is clear at a certain level of income production. True, many stallions are valuable to their owners, but how many of them actually pay their own way? The ones that do are easily distinguished from the ones that do not. The “loss of use” question answers itself.
I ask this question because as horse owners and veterinarians alike become more goal-oriented in everything from training and showing to diagnostics and treatment, the line that was previously clear on which horses to insure becomes more of a moving target. Not so much from a dollar value standpoint, since that should be a quantifiable sum regardless, but from a return-on-investment perspective.
If your horse is good enough to warrant loss of use, you’d better expect the scrutiny that comes with the price tag. You will not be the only person who has a say in whether or not your horse can still be used for that purpose.
If you choose major medical and employ the benefits of the policy, be aware of how that will affect the future of your horse’s care as viewed by the insurance company. Since they are the ones basically picking up the bill, again, you are not the only one in the decision-making process.
Last but not least, know what conditions (other than death) validate a mortality policy. Believe it or not, it’s not just as simple as calling the agent and saying, “My horse has died.” Many of you know there are fates worse than death, and horses are not excluded from fact. The black-and-white answer of finding your horse dead from say, a lightning strike, or some other act of God, does happen, but much more often the process is slower and more difficult to process as a horse owner. So many times I see people faced with a life-or-death decision that has an immediacy they never planned on. Know your policy, its limits and conditions. Know your own personal policy on euthanasia before the times comes, and more so than that, know your financial limits before you reach them.
Horse insurance is a great thing. More and more people are insuring their horses, and I think it makes for a better horse industry. Protecting your investment is smart. Protecting your own personal financial ability to continue in the horse industry is smarter, and that’s basically what any form of insurance is – protecting your financial status.
Dr. Justin High is a veterinarian and partner in Reata Equine Hospital in Weatherford, Texas. He graduated vet school from Texas A&M University and completed an internship at The Littleton Equine Medical Center in Denver, Colo. High’s years of practice focuses on the Western performances horse.