Equine Insurance

Equine Insurance

Tuesdays with Tony

This is one of those recurring themes for me. It seems every time I talk insurance, I hit a relevant point for a human, so here we are again. Let’s start with the obvious: horses are expensive. They’re expensive to buy and maintain, and to fix when they break. Having a plan for that makes it way easier to handle when it’s 2:00 am and my Docs are asking what you want to do. 

Mortality Insurance

This is like your life insurance. Basically you set a value for your horse, and if they pass away, you get money. I know none of my readers went there, but others may see this as a get-rich-quick scheme. Go buy a horse for $500, insure it for a high dollar value, watch some crime television to determine the best way to off the horse, and pocket all that cash. 

If you’re a crime TV watcher, I suggest you Google Helen Brach. I’m sure you will find an excellent series surrounding her death that involves just such a plan. The insurance companies are not so dense as to repeatedly fall for such schemes. 

The value of the horse is calculated several ways. The first is purchase price. If you bought a horse for $5,000 then you can easily obtain mortality insurance for that amount. The next way to calculate value is through performance record. The company will look at type of competition, number of competitors, prize money, and a host of other factors and determine that, yep, your horse is now worth a whole lot more due to your hard work, or give you an idea of what they would need to see to justify the dollar amount you’d like. 

Foals and breeding stock are a bit different. I’d recommend checking with a horse insurance specialist about that rather than a veterinary clinic cat. I mean, I’m smart, but I have limits on how much research I’m willing to do between naps. Anyway, mortality insurance is designed to help you replace your horse if something happens and they pass away. It is also, generally, the biggest factor in the amount of your yearly premium. Five thousand dollars in value is going to be a lot cheaper than $500,000.

Medical and Surgical Coverage

Once you’ve got mortality coverage, you can add other things like medical and surgical coverage. For this cat, this is the meat and potatoes of the matter. Medical and surgical coverage does just what it says: it covers them getting sick, injured, or needing surgery. I’m going to talk about things like ColiCare from SmartPak in a second, so hold that thought I know you’re probably having. 

Medical and surgical coverage covers way more than colic, and trust me, horses have way more things they can do than just colic. An insurance plan will help with a bad eye problem (we see at least 5 of these every year), a laceration into a joint (I can’t count how many of these we see), a surgical colic (less of a problem than you think), colics that need a lot of care but don’t need surgery (more of a problem than you think), lameness that require advanced diagnostics like MRI or CT, and a host of other things that horses do to themselves that cost a lot of money. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Having insurance to help you cover that long list of things is really helpful. The most important way insurance helps, at least from my fine feline perspective, is at the moment the decision has to be made. My Docs have evaluated your horse and come up with a plan for surgery or medical care, and now you have to figure out all the ways to pay for that plan. Having insurance makes the decision so, so much easier. Especially at 2:00 am on Saturday morning when you’re on vacation somewhere.

Colic Coverage Only

There are some options that give you coverage for colic surgery. SmartPak and Platinum Performance have really great options! My Docs have experience with both plans and have found them to be fantastic to use. The companies are great to work with, and the coverage is available for a wide variety of horses. If you have an older horse who isn’t doing much these are some great options to look at! 

However, everything great comes with at least some downside (Except me. I have zero downsides). These programs do a great job covering the majority of even a pretty significant colic surgery. What they don’t cover is a medical colic. If your horse doesn’t need surgery, they don’t kick in, which means no dollars for that $2,500 invoice (IV fluids are expensive!). Again, these programs are great, and they definitely have a place, just be sure you have a plan for a medical problem as well.

Special Add-ons

There are a million customization options for horse insurance plans. Finding a good agent who will talk you through what all these options are and how they might, or might not, apply to your life is key. For example, most horses probably don’t need flight insurance. This isn’t the “oh my flight was delayed and I missed my connection” insurance. This is “something bad happened on a flight” insurance. Not many horses fly on a plane at all, but if yours is one of them, you may consider this. 

More common options are things like Loss of Use, newborn foal coverage, and stallion fertility coverage. Insurance companies have also combined some of the liability-type coverages and will have add-ons for injuries caused by your horse to others. It’s almost like they know horses go out of their way to find these opportunities. Speaking of liability…..the other thing many horse insurance companies do is cover your farm for those oh-so-fun horse-specific liabilities like kicking someone who knows nothing about horses, or breaking a fence and frolicking around the neighborhood. You know, horse things.

Horse insurance is a definite conversation to have with yourself at the very least. All my Docs have at least some experience with horse insurance, and can help you consider what questions to ask, and point you in the direction of a few local brokers. Nothing beats knowing your own risk tolerance, and doing some research on available products. Having watched the process many, many times from my perch on the desk, nothing makes it easier to make hard decisions than knowing you have a way to pay for it all.

Until next week,


P.S. If you want to hear it straight from the equine insurance agent’s mouth, you can watch our Seminar video on this very topic, delivered by an equine insurance agent. And make sure you subscribe to my YouTube Channel while you’re there!

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Colic vs COLIC, and the Cost

Colic vs COLIC, and the Cost

Tuesdays with Tony

Colic vs COLIC, and the Cost

If I’ve learned anything from my years here at the Clinic, it’s that there’s colic, and then there’s COLIC. The colic kind of colic means some Banamine, some water and electrolytes, and, gasp, a whole lot less food over the next couple days. The COLIC kind of colic means one of two things: a whole bunch of fluids through an IV catheter, or surgery, or, even worse, both. The other difference: how much they cost. Being the wise and wonderful cat I am, I’m going to share with you all I learned about horse insurance the other night so that you can be prepared for the serious amounts of money COLIC can cost.

There are three different price brackets when talking about colic treatment. For the simple colic that just needs some drugs and some fluids, you can expect it to run somewhere in the $400 – $600 range. These things usually happen after hours, so there’s an emergency fee in there (unless you are on a Springhill Equine Wellness Plan!). If it’s a medical colic that doesn’t require surgery, but needs to come stay at the clinic for a few days, you’re looking at $800 – $2,000, depending on all kinds of things. This will include oversight by Yours Truly, so there’s that. For surgical colic, there is a very wide range of cost, because there’s a very wide range of surgeries, depending on what’s wrong. You can expect it to be somewhere between $7,500 – $15,000. I know, I know. I’ve napped on cars that were cheaper than that, too. So, let’s talk about insurance.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

I can’t afford horse insurance


I’ll admit, I thought horse insurance was a whole lot of money. However, I learned from Rhonda Mack from Jerry Parks Insurance in Ocala, that for around $350 per year, a horse could have $11,000 of colic surgery coverage! That is a very reasonable number. But. Yep, I’m going to have a but here. This covers colic, but not much else. Keep reading for more insurance stuff, but know that there are very, very reasonable options to make sure you can help your horse.


How does insurance for horses work?


First, everyone decides on a value for your horse. No, you don’t just get to pick a number, any number. The value is based on purchase price (or stud fee if it’s a baby), training, show record, yada, yada, yada. Okay, we have a number. Now we start with a basic mortality policy. Everybody starts here. The premium on this policy is a percentage of that value number we came up with.


Now that you have mortality, you can add things like major medical or a medical assistance plan. Major medical will pay for just about anything your horse can do to themselves from colic to pneumonia to major lacerations to eye issues (and holy cow, can those get expensive fast!). Major medical will even help with diagnostics and treatments for lameness. More on the lameness stuff later. Or, for a more economical package, you can go with the assistance plan. It helps with colics, lacerations, etc., but not lameness. What does all this mean? You’ve got options when it comes to insurance!


One kicker to horse insurance is the pre-existing condition. If your horse has a problem with something, that thing gets excluded on future insurance policies. For example, your horse develops a left front lameness. My amazing Docs do their thing, and determine your horse has a lesion in the Suspensory ligament on that leg. Insurance will cover things this time around, but not after that.


Lameness and Insurance


If horses only got lame just after their insurance was renewed, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion. Horses don’t work that way, though. They like to go with “I’m going to go lame right before this insurance policy expires” plan. Great, you think. That horse I used as an example above with the Suspensory injury will be out for 6 months minimum. You won’t get to use all your insurance benefits because it happened 2 months before renewal. Never fear. In that scenario, the Suspensory will be covered for 3-4 months (depending on the insurer) of the new policy. But (I hate that word), it will be excluded after that and for all eternity going forward. Moral of the story here: have a talk with my Docs about lameness and insurance. It will help you make decisions.


What about ColiCare?


ColiCare, and a couple other similar programs, can be great ways to cover colic surgery! There’s a big but with them: they only cover surgery; not a medical colic. My Docs have the most experience with ColiCare, and they love it. SmartPak is easy to work with, and the payouts have been really quick and easy. My Docs are pretty “Meh” on the value of the supplement, but worth talking to them about it!


I know I can be a little bit snarky, but in all fairness to you humans, colic is tough. Heck, horse emergencies are tough. Insurance may be a way to help you handle those crazy emergencies a little better. Now I have to harass them about insuring me. There’s no way to put a value on all this amazingness, though, so that’s going to be tough.


Now be a good human. Scroll down a little further and subscribe to my blog. And if my blog isn’t enough to satiate your thirst for horse knowledge, check out the podcast the humans do called Straight From the Horse Doctor’s Mouth. You can get it on all the usual places, and I’ll admit, it’s pretty good, especially considering I’m not even on it. Imagine how awesome it would be if I was?

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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