Why do you need horse insurance?
Horses are magnificent creatures, but they are not cheap to keep. So if you're lucky enough to own one, it's important to have the right insurance in place to protect your animal and your pocket in the event that something goes wrong.
Vet bills, for a start, can be extremely costly. If your horse were injured or became ill and needed to be seen by a vet, would you be able to afford to pay the bill? Horse insurance, or equestrian insurance, will come in very handy here.
But it's not just illness you need to consider. With horse theft becoming more of a problem, it's worth having cover in place to protect you if your horse were stolen. And don't forget to think about cover for your horse's equipment – saddlery and tack are extremely expensive, so it's vital that you have sufficient insurance to cover this too.
What does equestrian insurance cover you for?
If you take out a horse insurance policy, as standard it should cover you in the event that your horse is stolen or it strays. If this does happen, your policy should pay towards the cost of advertising to try to recover the horse, as well as the market value or sum insured if it can't be found. There may be a limit on the sum insured, so if your animal is particularly valuable you need to tell your insurer.
A standard policy will also cover you in the sad event that your horse dies.
On top of this, you can choose to add a number of other cover options to your equestrian insurance policy. Obviously, the more you add, the more expensive your policy will be.
You can add cover for your vet bills, for example, although be aware there is usually a limit on how much you can claim per incident or even how much you can claim in vet bills each year. So you will need to compare policies carefully. The excess could also vary – so you might be able to choose from cover for vet fees up to £5,000 with a £400 excess, or cover up to £3,000 with a £150 excess (the excess is the amount you pay towards any claim, so if you have a £300 excess and make a claim for £500, the insurer will only pay £200).
When you apply for equine insurance, you must be honest about any pre-existing medical conditions and health issues your horse has. Generally, these will be excluded from your policy but, if you are not upfront about them, your insurer might decide to turn down a claim you later have to make, even if it’s not strictly related to that particular issue.
You can also choose to have personal accident insurance added onto your policy. This will pay out if you or someone else riding the horse suffers an injury following a riding accident. How much you'll receive will depend on the injury. You might, for example, be insured for £10,000 if you lost a limb and £1,000 for dental treatment.
Another option is public liability insurance, which is also sometimes known as third party insurance. You should be aware that under the Animals Act (1971), you are liable if your horse injures someone or damages their property, whether or not you are negligent. So if your equine friend is a little prone to mood swings, this type of cover is well worth having. You can usually choose how much cover you would like, but it's recommended that you have at least £1million.
A further cover option is 'loss of use'. You may not want to think about it, but should your horse suffer an injury or illness that prevents it from carrying on as normal, you may still want to keep it if it's otherwise fit and well. Adding permanent loss of use to your horse insurance policy would mean it would help to fund the extra costs involved.
Finally, be aware that if your horse is fairly old, you may have to buy a veteran horse insurance plan. This is likely to be more restrictive and also possibly more expensive, but most insurers only cover horses up to the age of 15, 16 or 17 on a standard policy, so paying the extra will ensure you are sufficiently covered.
Insure your equipment
As well as insuring your animal, think about how you'd manage to replace your equipment if it was damaged or stolen. Horse equipment is expensive so it's well worth taking out saddlery and tack insurance to cover your equipment up to a certain value. This is typically around £5,000. Note that there are usually restrictions on this type of cover – for example, you must keep your tack secure and lock it in a building with a five-lever mortice deadlock.
If you regularly drive your horse around in a trailer, it's a good idea to have insurance in place to cover you in the event the trailer is lost, damaged or stolen. You can usually add this to your horse insurance policy. If you have a motorised horsebox instead, you can usually buy a standalone policy to cover this.
Many equine insurance policies also offer cover for stables.
Compare horse insurance providers
As with any type of insurance, it's important to compare horse insurance policies carefully to ensure you're getting the best possible price. You can compare a range of insurance providers with MoneySuperMarket's free service.
However, while we all want to get the cheapest price possible, do remember that the cheapest policy isn't always the best one. You will still need to read the small print carefully to check it covers you for all you need it to. If it doesn't, it's worth paying a little more for the additional cover.
But there are other ways to help keep the cost of your equestrian insurance to a minimum. Many insurers will happily cover more than one horse on the same policy and often give a discount of around 5% to 10% for this. Some insurers also offer discounts of around 20% to 30% for taking out your policy online.
You will also save money if you insure your horse when it's young as it is less likely to get ill, though bear in mind that some policies will only offer cover after the horse is a month old.
In addition, the more you pay for your excess, the cheaper your horse insurance quote will be. But do remember that you will have to pay this excess to your insurer if you make a claim – so don't set it so high you can't afford to pay it.