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.
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.
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.
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!