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Lessons Learned - Part II

Here are the final five things this horse insurance professional would prefer not to hear from clients, and the chance for you to learn from their mistakes.

6) I didn’t have a vet exam done before I bought the new horse. I got him for practically nothing, so it wasn’t necessary.

Well, it probably was. There is no truth to the old adage “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Please, have your vet look the horse over from head to tail. I cannot count the number of times I have seen clients end up with horses that are lame or ill, or even eventually have to be retired or put down due to something that would have been picked up in a basic pre-purchase exam. 

Or in a slightly different scenario, the issue doesn’t come up until a year or two later when they decide to sell the horse, and the next potential buyer finds it in their pre-purchase exam. Either way, save yourself time, money, and heartache, by doing a thorough exam.  This type of chance is really just not worth taking. 

7) I already spent $500 on the pre-purchase exam. I wasn’t going to spend any more money for X-rays.

See #6. In addition, I’ve heard many variations of this, the most concerning is when during the initial pre-purchase exam, the vet notes areas of concern, and specifically states that further investigation with X-rays should be done to determine whether or not future soundness is a significant concern.  One potential client, having been told that the horse’s front feet had some suspected issues of white line disease and/or past laminitis, and that X-rays should be done to see the extent of damage, said that she didn’t feel spending the money was worth it, especially since her trainer told her the horse would be fine.

No disrespect to trainers, but they are not veterinarians. And unless they are Superman with X-ray vision, or a very reliable psychic, they can’t guarantee what is going on in those areas and whether or not you’re likely to face a problem in the future.  A few hundred dollars now versus the possible loss of many thousands in the future, in my opinion is a worthwhile investment.

8) The pre-purchase exam didn’t go well, so we passed on the horse at first.  But after a few months he went “on clearance” so we bought him.

Don’t get me wrong—it is a rare horse, especially one with some years and work on him, that comes through a thorough pre-purchase exam without a few dings here and there, and every purchase is a bit of a throw of the dice. While you can expect that some previous injuries or ongoing issues can be managed without serious threat to the horse’s future usefulness, there are others, like bone chips in vulnerable areas, kissing spines,  a past history of a severe soft tissue injury or chronic illnesses, that should be cause for real concern, no matter how much “on clearance” the horse is.

9) We probably should have moved that [insert-your-farm-implement-here] out of the pasture.

In just the daily 45-minute drive to my office, I go by several farms with horses turned out in pastures with various pieces of equipment and other horse-unfriendly things like canoes, rusty trailers, and farm implements with lots of pointy edges. I realize that I am paranoid, having read claim reports of horses severely injured or killed while turned out in pristine, perfectly maintained pastures, so you can imagine how I cringe at the thought of run-ins with these sorts of items.  While it is impossible to protect our horses from everything, it's still not a good idea to put trouble right in their path.

10) I thought my homeowner’s policy covered liability for my horse.

AND

I thought the boarding facility covered my horse if he hurt someone, or if he got hurt.

Unfortunately, many homeowners' and especially renters' insurance policies do not cover you for third party bodily injury or property damage caused by your horse – check with the agent that handles those policies to be sure.  If you keep your horse(s) on your property and have a homeowners or farmowners policy, or an umbrella policy, there is a chance that those policies may offer some level of coverage, again check with your agent. And if the agent tells you coverage is in place, specifically ask them if that coverage extends to scenarios where the horse is not on your premises, such as at a horse show, out for training, or just for a day on the trail, because some policies may only apply to incidents that occur on your property. 

Also, if you have horses other than those owned by you on your property, such as a boarders’ or friends’ horses, I would expect that this would not covered by the personal liability section of a regular homeowner’s or farmowner’s policy. In these situations you would want to see about General Commercial Liability and Care, Custody and Control policies specifically for equestrian exposures.

Regarding a boarding facility protecting you if your horse were to injure a third party or damage their property, or reimbursing you if your horse was was injured or killed while in their care, I would not expect for this to be the case. In most cases the boarding facility’s policy (if they have one) is there to protect them, not their clients, if an incident occurs where they are sued due to damage caused by a client’s horse, or if they were pursued by a client if that client’s horse was harmed while in their care.

To best protect yourself, and your horse, consider a Private Horseowner’s Liability policy to protect you if you are sued for negligence by a third party for bodily injury or property damage caused by your horse.  And for your horse, consider a Mortality policy and Major Medical/Surgical endorsement so that if the worst happens, and you’re dealing with a serious injury or illness, or God forbid the horse’s death, you would have coverage to help reimburse you for your loss and expenses.

Worst Case Scenario

Even if you take every precaution, you may still find yourself dealing with a worst case scenario. This is where insurance, both mortality and major medical/surgical as well as personal liability, can be invaluable. Putting into perspective all the time, money, and effort that we put into our horses, and the fact that we often insure our other major investments—truck, trailer, house, barn—adding your horse to that list is definitely something to consider.

For more information, please visit the Broadstone FAQs page.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

Lessons Learned - Part I

After more than 20 years with horses, many of them operating in the insurance industry, I’ve begun to notice trends in what I consider “preventable accidents.” Let’s be honest, so much of owning and working with horses comes down to common sense, or at least common horse sense, but sometimes we ignore the obvious, leaving our horses to pay the price. With that in mind, here are the top ten things this horse insurance professional would prefer to hear from my clients, and the chance for you to learn from their mistakes.

1) Now that I think about it, he didn’t seem quite right. We probably shouldn’t have run him this weekend.

I’ve heard variations of this countless times when clients call early in the week to report a claim, often some sort of lameness. No one knows your horse as well as you do, and if he’s had an off week or two, either taking a funny step here and there, or seeming cranky or unusually tired, consider rearranging your competition plans. Our horses can’t verbalize what they’re feeling, so it’s left to us to read the signs, and if those signs are pointing to the start of something going wrong, do you and your horse a favor by giving him a little time off.  If that doesn’t bring things right, call the vet.  But whatever you do, try not to stress him with hard work when schooling, or competition. As disappointing as it is to skip a weekend, possibly losing out on entry fees and prize money, it will be much more disappointing, and costly, to have your horse laid up for months or face the end of his career entirely. 

I realize that horse people are a rough and tumble group who don’t think twice about the bumps and bruises that come with the territory, but when possible consider the long term ramifications to your horse, and your wallet, that could happen when you ignore your gut instincts.

2) The vet said that it was just a mild colic. He tubed him, gave him some medication, and he seemed fine. We waited for a few hours and then left him for the night.

I’ve heard stories like this from clients who then found their horses in serious distress or even dead the next morning. Veterinarians do not have a crystal ball. All signs can point to everything being fine, but it is not unheard of for a horse to take a turn for the worse when after a few hours the fluids and pain medications wear off.

However you have to do it, whether it’s sleeping in your truck, the tack room, or outside your horse’s stall, for at least the first eight hours after a colic, stay close by, physically checking on him every hour or so. Sure, it will be a long night with little sleep, but the alternative could be much worse. With colic, the most important key to a successful outcome is early intervention. If your horse becomes painful again in the middle of the night and you’re there to catch it, you’ve got the best shot at getting the vet back out again for further treatment, or taking the horse to the nearest hospital to be evaluated, which gives him the best chance at survival and a long, happy life.

3) We moved our horse to a different farm. They put him out in a field with quite a few other strange horses. Every few days he’d come in with cuts and scratches, but we figured they would eventually all settle down.

Except sometimes things don’t settle, instead they escalate, leaving one or more horses severely injured or worse.

It’s true that turning horses out, for as many hours each day as possible, is one of the best ways to keep them healthy. And turning them out with other horses is also very important, since horses are herd animals and thrive in a social atmosphere. Unfortunately the other side of this coin is that as in all societies, personalities clash.

While the occasional scuffle is inevitable and we need to accept the inherent risks involved with turning horses out together, if you see consistent signs of fighting– bite and kick marks, cuts and scratches—consider making other arrangements for your horse. If you are seeing these sorts of minor injuries too often, or if you are witnessing your horse involved in pecking order disputes with other members of the herd, talk to the boarding facility manager about making changes to your horse’s turn-out situation.

One of the more common causes of mortality claims that our agency has seen over the years is horses killed while out on pasture or in a paddock or dry lot. In addition, we see a very high number of Major Medical/Surgical claims filed to deal with the aftermath of horse fights and other turn-out injuries. Severe lacerations, puncture wounds, lamenesses and other injuries are expensive to treat, and can often take months to heal.  Use your best judgment in these situations, and act sooner rather than later to avoid the worst case scenarios. And again, if you board your horse, don’t be afraid to speak up and make your concerns known to the farm manager.

4) Can I have an extension? I can’t pay my premium this week since I just bought/adopted  a new horse.

Believe me, I don’t want to necessarily discourage horse ownership—it’s what keeps us in business and brings millions of horses and horse owners happiness around the world. And I certainly don’t want to talk people out of adopting horses and giving them good homes. But at the same time, I sometimes wonder about how realistically people view their financial situations. Horses are not a necessity, they are a luxury. We are so lucky to have them in our lives, and to have the ability to afford them. Just keep in mind that unless you’ve got a trust fund, financial fairy godmother, or a very successful career, the dollars in your bank account will likely only stretch so far. If you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, juggling credit cards, and otherwise twisting yourself into a financial knot, take a step back and take a hard look at what you can really afford, and then set up a plan to make that happen.

That said, while it’s necessary to prioritize your horse-related expenses, especially when money is tight, do your best to keep insurance on that list.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, when funds are most limited could be when the worst will happen, and that is when your insurance policy will be most needed.

5) He’s been quite a handful. Has a habit of bolting/biting/kicking….

If your horse has serious behavioral issues, not only is he at risk (a bolting horse can easily be injured), but so are you and so is everyone in his path.  Even if this horse is bringing in thousands of dollars in prize money, if he is a monster to deal with otherwise, you need to fix the problem. And be honest with yourself. If you don’t have the skills or knowledge to do this, find someone who does. A few months of paying a trainer is a small investment to make for long term safety and security. Just remember that no trainer is a cure-all. After they are finished, make sure to continue the work. Consistency is key.

Worst Case Scenario

Even if you take every precaution, you may still find yourself dealing with a worst case scenario. This is where insurance can be invaluable. Putting into perspective all the time, money, and effort that we put into our horses, and the fact that we often insure our other major investments—truck, trailer, house, barn—adding your horse to that list is definitely something to consider.

For more information, go to the Broadstone FAQ’s page, and for a quote, go to our Quote page.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

 

Horse Insurance Myths

Insurance is possibly the least favorite topic of conversation for horse people. First, it involves pondering the worst case scenarios that keep us up at night. Then there are visions of pages of confusing forms, horror stories from someone in the barn or a friend-of-a-friend who had a bad claim experience, not to mention having to part with hard-earned money that could be used elsewhere in our budget.  Having spent over a decade in the equine insurance industry, I’ve come to see a pattern in the types of myths and misconceptions that the average horse owner has when considering their insurance options. Following are some of the most common:

1)  It’s Too Expensive

Cost is the most common misconception, with the general assumption that insuring the average horse is just too expensive.  One of the first comments I get after giving someone a quote over the phone is, “Well that’s not nearly as much as I thought it would be.”

The annual premium for a full mortality (life insurance) policy on a horse is based on a percentage of the horse’s insured value.  That percentage is determined by the horse’s breed, age, and use.  Broadstone works with several companies, which gives us the flexibility to work with clients so they can determine the best option. 

Some example: Rates for dressage horses average at 2.9 – 3% of the horse’s insured value. For hunter/jumpers from 3.25% - 3.5%; Eventing from 3.7% or higher, depending on level of competition. And for most Western disciplines from Western Pleasure show, to roping, cutting, and barrels, average between 3.2% - 3.4%. This puts the annual premium for a horse between the ages of 2-15, insured at $7,500, at between $218-$278.  At a $10,000 value, the premium would be between $290-370, and so on. 

Also, various payment plan options are available, depending on the premiums, and payment can be made by debit or credit cards as well.

Keep in mind that the horse does not need to be insured for its full value.  You may have a horse that could easily sell for $50,000 or more, but if the worst happens and you lose him, your plan would be to purchase a far less experienced (and expensive) nice young prospect.  Not a problem, as you have the option to insure your horse for his fair market value (equivalent to a current selling price) or any lesser amount.

An extra benefit:  The Full Mortality policy includes up to $5,000 of Emergency Colic Surgery coverage at no extra charge providing the horse does not have a colic history. The actual limit of that coverage depends on the horse’s insured value and the insurance company offering coverage.

While Full Mortality is your starting point, most people also consider some level of Major Medical/Surgical coverage as well (more on the actual coverage in item #3 below).  As far as cost for Major Medical/Surgical coverage, annual limits of $5,000 to $15,000 are available with annual premiums ranging from $200 - $675.

So to do the math as an example with one company, a $10,000 hunter/jumper age 2-15, insured for Full Mortality and $10,000 Major Medical/Surgical coverage would cost about $725 per year.  Coverage is still available for horses over the age of 15, though rates increase slightly, the exact amount depending on the company.  To get an actual quote at no charge, go to our Quote page.

2)  It’s Too Complicated

The second most common comment I hear after discussing the required paperwork I’ll need from a prospective client is, “That’s a lot easier than I thought.”  For the average sound and healthy horse, an application from the owner is all that we need.  And the applications can be completed and signed electronically, which makes the whole process as simple and speedy as possible.  Veterinary  certificates are generally only required if the horse is to be insured for a value over $50,000 or even $100,000, is older (16 or over), or has a history of recent, serious health problems.  

So in most cases less than five minutes of paperwork is all it takes to get coverage in place. 

And to make the process even simple, payment is not required up front, since it is the paperwork sent by fax, email, or mail, along with underwriting approval, that triggers coverage.  Providing everything is in order  coverage can be bound, and the horse can be held covered for a few weeks to allow the client time to make at least the down payment by dropping a check in the mail, or calling with a credit card.  That’s really all it takes.

3)  Major Medical/Surgical Coverage Hardly Covers Anything

One of the more common myths is that Major Medical/Surgical Coverage is a bit of a sham, that it only covers the most catastrophic problems, like colic surgery, and even then has all sorts of complicated exclusions. 

In reality, while this coverage won’t take care of your usual maintenance – inoculations, worming, teeth floating, shoeing, preventative treatments and supplements – it can be invaluable if your horse suffers a serious injury, illness, accident or disease during the policy period.  Common uses for this coverage include issues that occur during the policy period such as: diagnosis and treatment of lamenesses, surgically or medically treated colics (a colic that only requires medical treatment for a day at the vet hospital can still easily run $2,000), illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Potomac Horse Fever, and EPM, or injuries such as a lacerations or kick wounds that occur while turned out, being trailed, or cast in a stall.

Co-pays sometimes apply to the coverage for items like diagnostic tests, and often there are dollar limits for various sorts of treatments such as regenerative therapies and shock wave therapy, but these vary with each insurance company.  So granted, the Major Medical/Surgical isn’t going to cover every last veterinary expense, but in most cases it will limit the financial hit that you take, and allow you to concentrate on giving your horse the best care possible so that the two of you are back to doing what you love as soon as possible.   

For more information on coverages, visit the Broadstone Protect Your Horse and FAQs pages.

4) After I get a policy, if I have to use it the company will raise my rates or refuse to renew my coverage.

We hear this all the time, and in the vast majority of the cases, a claim, even a very expensive one like a colic surgery that maxes out the coverage limit, or a bad year with major claims, will not result in a non-renewal of coverage.  Insurance companies understand bad luck and the nature of the horse business, and generally don’t make knee-jerk decisions regarding policies.   Providing the horse has not suffered an injury or required treatment outside their underwriting guidelines – for example, few companies will renew coverage on a horse that has been nerved – renewal is very often offered, and rate increases are generally not applied based on claims history.

Do keep in mind though that horse insurance policies are 12-month term, property/casualty policies, and unlike human health insurance policies, pre-existing conditions are excluded.   This means that if the horse does have a health problem during a policy year, it is possible that an exclusion for that problem may apply to the renewal policy.  That said, most policies include some type of extension coverage that will help protect you in the event the horse dies during the following policy year from a problem that occurred and was reported during the previous policy.  These extensions vary by coverage and company.

5) My horse has never colicked/taken a lame step/been sick a day in his life, so  I don’t need insurance.

Hopefully that streak will continue, but in my experience, the vast majority of claims happen to horses that previously had stellar health histories.  They’ve never coilcked--until 3 a.m. of the night they end up in the surgical ward at the university hospital.  Or never been lame until the day a pasturemate decides to play a bit rough or they find that lone groundhog hole in their pasture. 

Worst Case Scenario

Even if you take every precaution, you may still find yourself dealing with a worst case scenario.

Our horses are among Mother Nature’s most frustratingly delicate creatures.  Considering all the time, money, and effort that we put into them, and the fact that we insure all our other major investments – truck, trailer, house, barn--adding your horse to that list is definitely something to think about.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

 

Handling the Heat

While we all look forward to summer and all the time we’ll spend in the saddle, as the temperature and humidity increase, so do the chances of your horse developing heat exhaustion. 

Prevention

* Fitness

A fit horse develops a more efficient cardiovascular system and is therefore better able to deal with the additional challenges of hot and humid weather.  Make sure your horse’s level of fitness is appropriate for what you’re asking of him, and when in doubt, take it slow or quit early.

* Hydration

A 1,000 pound horse will drink 8-10 gallons of water a day under normal circumstances.  When the temperature increases, even just at rest, they will drink even more.  Add into that equation any significant exercise, and a horse can easily drink 20-25 gallons of water in a day. 

Make sure that clean, fresh water is available at all times.  If you’re working in hot conditions, offer your horse water as frequently as possible, as dehydration can easily become a factor in a horse that is heavily sweating.  While at home you can encourage your horse to drink by providing a salt block or free salt in his stall, and if you’re concerned about electrolyte loss due to excessive sweating, use an electrolyte supplement as well, keeping in mind that some horses refuse to drink water with electrolyte powder mixed in, so make sure to have a bucket of pure water available at all times as well.

And remember that a dehydrated horse is more susceptible to an impaction colic. All the more reason to monitor water intake.

* Shade & Ventilation

If at all possible, work your horse and/or turn them out on pasture during the coolest parts of the day. If they must be out during the hotter periods, make sure they have access to shade, and of course water.  When your horse is inside, ventilation is key.  Hopefully your barn design provides for as much air movement as possible. In addition, consider a box fan that will provide the horse with a constant, man-made breeze--just make sure the fan is clean, mounted securely, and that power cords are intact with no fraying, and out of reach of curious horse lips. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: weakness, stumbling, muscle tremors, increased body temperature (rectal temperature over 102 F), elevated respiration (normal rate is 4-16 breaths per minute), weakness, depressed attitude, and dehydration (the horse’s flanks may look caved in, or when the skin on the neck near the shoulder is pinched, it doesn’t go back to normal immediately).  

In addition, you will often see heavy sweating, or in serious cases, the horse will stop sweating completely (called anhidrosis). If these symptoms develop and appropriate steps aren’t taken quickly, heat exhaustion can lead to collapse and death.  

Treatment

First, contact your veterinarian-- a horse with these types of symptoms needs immediate care—and be ready to give the horse’s vital signs.  If you're unsure of how to take your horse's vital signs, here is a great article.  Until the vet arrives, provide the horse with frequent, small amounts of cool water and move him into a shady, preferably well-ventilated area.  If fans are available, use them.   

As quickly as possible, begin rapidly sponging and scraping cold water on and off the horse to transport heat away from the body.  It is essential that you scrape the water off immediately after you sponge it on. If the horse is left with a saturated coat, you’re basically creating a convection oven effect, since the excess water will not evaporate quickly enough, trapping the heat instead of pulling it away.  Although old beliefs hold that ice water is harmful, heat-stress studies have shown that it is actually one of the most beneficial and efficient ways of cooling a hot horse, so don’t worry about the water being too cold.  

Monitor the horse’s temperature and respiration every 15 minutes and have this information ready for your vet, who should be able to administer intravenous fluids and medications as necessary.   

You and your vet should also monitor the horse for after-effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion, which can include post-exertional myopathy (commonly called tying up), impaction colic, and synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (thumps).  

Better Safe than Sorry

Despite all your best efforts, you could find yourself dealing with an ill or injured horse and the resulting veterinary costs.  If your horse has Major Medical/Surgical insurance coverage, the resulting veterinary bills will be much less of a blow. For more information on coverages, go the Broadstone Protect Your Horse and FAQs pages, and for an online quote, visit the Quote Page.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

Better Safe - Part IV

Part IV

Be Proactive

Make sure you know how to take your horse’s vital signs, and what the numbers are when he’s healthy and at rest.  Every horse varies slightly, some more than others. While the average horse’s temperature ranges from 99-101 Fahrenheit, your horse may naturally run a bit hot, say at a temperature of 102.  This is important information for you and your vet in determining if he’s got an actual fever.  The same goes for respiration and heart rates. Here is a great article from The Horse about how to measure vital signs.

These numbers are the first information your vet is going to ask for when you call with an emergency , so make sure you can take these readings easily and consistently and help your vet determine the first steps to take if he falls ill.

Be familiar with your horse’s lumps and bumps so that you can know the difference between an old, inactive injury or growth and something new that may be brewing.  Certain abnormalities may actually be run of the mill for your horse. For example, he may have suffered a minor injury years ago that resulted in slight thickening of a fetlock.  On the other hand, if your horse feels a little off after a day of hard work, you want to be able to run your hand down the same leg and notice any new unusual heat or swelling. The sooner these symptoms are noticed, the sooner you can take steps to avoid a full-on injury.

Check in with your horse.  Even if you’re in a rush with only enough time to throw some hay and grain before running out the barn door, take just ten seconds to notice how he looks.  In just that short period of time you can notice a funny step, dull eye, or unusual nervousness.  These subtle symptoms can be your first indication that something is wrong – and the sooner you notice, the sooner you can act.

Weight matters for horses, just like humans. A horse at a healthy weight has a body operating at optimum capacity. Horses that are overweight are at a higher risk of joint issues, colic, and laminitis, among other issues.  Horses that are underweight run the risk of being malnourished, which can affect their immune and other systems, and can be especially detrimental to young, still-growing horses.

“No hoof, no horse,” is not just a cliché.  A bad shoe or trim job can cause irreparable damage to the internal structures of the foot and even the leg, so make sure to work with a reputable farrier and have your horse’s feet worked on every six weeks, or as recommended.   

Colic – a Four (well, Five) Letter Word

There is a reason most of us fear this word. It is one of the most common causes of significant and expensive illnesses in horses, which translates into quite the invoice from your vet. A very mild bout, treated with just some banamine and observation, may not cost much, but if you end up at a veterinary hospital, even for just a day or two of care that doesn’t require surgery, you will likely leave with a bill running between $1,000 to $2,000.  If surgery is necessary, you’re more likely looking at expenses between $7,500 to $10,000 or more, and that’s without any complications and at the typical hospital. In some areas of the country, the average surgery can easily run over $10,000.  And if complications occur, such as a post-op infection, you will be tacking on at least several thousands more.

So what can you do to keep your horse out of the operating room?  Actually, some of the earlier advice applies. For example, you should monitor your horse’s water intake. If he’s drinking less than normal due to weather, impaction can become a problem.  In addition, observation can be key.  If we look closely, a horse just starting to feel unwell will telegraph his distress – maybe he’s abnormally restless, and picking a fight with a neighbor in the next stall. Or instead maybe he’s standing facing the corner, head down, eyes dull.   And of course there are the usual signs – rolling, biting and kicking at his flank, sweating and pacing. With colic, early detection and intervention is key, so as mentioned before, know your horse--his personality and habits--so if necessary you’re able to get help as quickly as possible.

Monitor his overall gastro-intestinal health.  Gastric ulcers are much more common that you might realize. Even the average horse can start developing an ulcer while traveling for just a three-day horse show or trip.  And unfortunately ulcers are sometimes tied to colic. So do what you can to prevent ulcers, including lots of access to grass and hay (gastric ulcers usually develop when the gut doesn’t have sufficient roughage to absorb stomach acid), keep stress to a minimum, and utilize preventative medications such as Ulcergard.

Mind your horse’s menu.  Make any changes to your his diet--grain, hay or grass, very slowly.  A rapid feed change is a common cause of colic.  In addition, adjust the volume you feed based on the horse’s activity level.  A horse in full work, competing a weekend or two a month, needs a much different diet than one confined to stall rest due to an injury, or just taking it easy due to other circumstances, such as weather.  If your horse hasn’t been turned out on grass lately, introduce it slowly.  And if you have an easy keeper, one that is prone to bulking up quickly, limit access to grass to help prevent colic and founder concerns.

For a great summary on colic signs, symptoms, and treatment, here are Part I and Part II from the Horse Side Vet Guide. Important reading for every horse owner.

In addition, you might want to try supplements designed to prevent gastro-intestinal issues such as Succeed, or one of the SmartPak supplements. Several of the SmartPak products allow you access to the ColiCare program, which provides $7,500 in colic surgery coverage for eligible horses.

Worst Case Scenario

If despite your best efforts, you still find yourself putting in an emergency call to your vet, this is the time where horse insurance, both Full Mortality and Major Medical/Surgical, can be invaluable. Putting into perspective all the time, money, and effort that we put into our horses, and the fact that we often insure our other major investments—truck, trailer, house, barn—adding your horse to that list is definitely something to consider.

For more information on coverages, visit our Protect Your Horse and FAQs pages. And to see about a quote, go to the Quote Page, or call 888-687-8555.

 **These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

 

Better Safe - Part III

Part III - At Home

Owning a horse these days has some new pros and cons.  On the pro side, we have the development of new technology to both diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses that come along, as well as provide better outcomes when it comes to dealing with common issues such as colic and soft tissue injuries.  Of course along with that comes the corresponding increase in the cost of ownership when we take advantage of these breakthroughs, combined with a slowly recovering recession, so for many of us there are fewer dollars in our bank account to take care of the occasional bump or bruise, not to mention something far worse.

For some of us, our horses are members of the family and we would willingly take out a second mortgage to care of them. Others of us see them as a teammate--part of the excitement and fun of competition.  And then there are those who see their horses as a financial investment that not only helps bring in prizes and prize money, but will hopefully earn a significant profit on resell. Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum, there is a common thread – if our horse suffers a serious health issue that results in pricey vet bills, or worse, results in the horse’s death, we can take a painful financial hit.

First and foremost, horse insurance can help mitigate some of  these concerns and losses.   Full Mortality (life insurance) and Major Medical/Surgical (a type of equine health insurance) are the two most common ways to accomplish this.  Click here for more information on these coverages, and to see about getting a Quote, go to:

While insuring your horse may help give you some peace of mind, never needing to tap into your policy is the best case scenario. Many of the usual injuries and illnesses that befall our horses can be avoided through some common sense and horse sense, and these preventative measures usually don’t cost a penny.   Following are some tips.

Out To Pasture

It’s in our horse’s best interests to be out on grass or even in a dry lot, hanging out with their pals, versus cooped up all day in a stall. Horses are social creatures, and being turned out gives them time to bond and blow off steam.  Unfortunately, it’s during this time that we often see injuries occur, from a minor bite wound to a compound fracture. To avoid these situations:

·         Turn your horse out without a halter. While this might be inconvenient or seem just plain crazy, keep in mind that halters cause a high number of pasture accidents with horses getting caught on objects like fence posts or trees, or even getting caught on each other or themselves (ever seen a horse try to scratch its head with a hind leg?).  If you must turn your horse out with a halter on, do not use nylon – it is unbreakable. No matter how hard the horse pulls and fights, the halter will not break. A leather halter (or a nylon halter with leather pieces) are better options as leather will break if pulled tugged on hard enough.

Inspect your pasture.  Fencing is your horse’s first line of defense against the outside world, so keep an eye out for loose or broken boards that could allow your horse to break free and wander into danger, the most terrifying being an open road. Some of the worst insurance claims involve horses being hit by oncoming vehicles.  Granted, it is impossible to inspect your fence line every day, but do it as often as possible, and definitely after any significant weather event, like a bad storm, where damage is more likely.

Take a look at the vegetation growing in your pasture.  Depending on your location, certain trees and weeds can cause serious illness or death.  Not an expert? No problem. You can contact your local agriculture extension and either get the necessary information and do an inspection yourself, or ask for an expert to come out and take a look for you.

Look for other hazards.  Ideally, the only things that should be in a pasture are grass, dirt, and water troughs.  Avoid storing trailers, vehicles, or machinery of any kind in your pastures and paddocks.  Even trees can be a problem. If possible, fence them off. Horses are curious and will eventually check all of these items out, sometimes with detrimental results.   Horses are also prey animals, which means they will flee blindly when frightened, so a fight with another horse or something else that spooks them could send them running right into a sharp edge or tree branch.

Making Introductions.  Be very careful when introducing a new horse to the herd. Pecking orders need to be rearranged, and this can be a problem if the new horse poses a perceived threat to the current dominant of the bunch.  Try a meet and greet between the new horse and the herd’s most laid back members.  If all goes well, gradually increase the numbers until the horse is fully integrated. This may take some time, but can avoid injuries to multiple horses if a real throw down occurs.

Mind the Weather

With Summer on the way, take care not to overwork your horse in hot weather and keep an eye not only on the amount he’s drinking (and supplement with electrolytes if necessary,) but also watch how much he perspires.  If he seems to be sweating less than usual, or not at all, halt activity immediately, take steps to cool him, and contact a vet.

Watch the radar.  While it is impossible to avoid the occasional surprise thunderstorm, especially in the summer, if you can see a line of storms heading your way, bring your horses in if possible to avoid lightning strikes. Also, if you have horses turned out in a low lying area and a significant rainfall is predicted, move them to higher ground to avoid a flooding hazard.

In addition, have a plan ready in the case of a true catastrophic weather event, and know the most common dangers in your area. This blog from TheHorse.com gives some good tips as well as several other resources to consult.

During the winter, in certain areas of the country ice becomes a real hazard. Do not underestimate how many horses (and humans) are injured and even killed in falls on ice.  If the weather is treacherous, do whatever you can to keep the horses inside.  If you must move your horse across icy terrain, go slowly and pick the least icy path possible.

Ice affects more than just the terrain. In cold weather, some horses begin to drink less.  Some just don’t like to drink extremely cold water, or it may be that they can’t get to the water at all due to the trough or bucket icing over.  There are various options available to avoid this--from manually checking your troughs and breaking up the ice, to using a specially designed heater that will keep the water at a more palatable temperature and keep it from freezing.

Worst Case Scenario

Despite your best efforts, you may still find yourself putting in an emergency call to your vet, and this is where horse insurance, both Full Mortality and Major Medical/Surgical, can be invaluable. Putting into perspective all the time, money, and effort that we put into our horses, and the fact that we often insure our other major investments—truck, trailer, house, barn—adding your horse to that list is definitely something to consider.

 Visit our FAQs page for more detail on coverages.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

Better Safe - Part II

Part II - At the Competition

Pulling In

Horses, especially those in unfamiliar surroundings, can find creative ways to injure themselves—ask any insurance claims adjuster.  So after getting to the competition site and before settling your horse into his new stall, check it over from top to bottom, literally—walls, floor, and ceiling.  Look for any protrusions that could scrape or puncture, such as cracked boards or screws, and also check for any worrisome gaps that could trap a hoof or a head.

Most events allow the use of shavings or sawdust for bedding, but occasionally you’ll find one that for various reasons will only allow straw.  If your horse has never been bedded on straw, make sure to try this out at home.  A horse unaccustomed to standing in a stall surrounded by straw may mistake it for something hay-like, think he’s hit the mother lode, and gorge himself.  A little nibbling is fine, but a full meal of straw can cause anything from a bellyache to a full-blown colic.  Also, you don’t want to find out at an event that your horse has an allergy to straw (believe it or not, it happens).

Stall fans can be an absolute necessity in hot, humid climates, but to reduce the risk of fire, make sure that your fan is clean, dust and debris free, and has a power cord without any damage.  When setting it up, make sure it is very well secured and that the cord cannot be reached by bored horse lips (your horse, or a neighboring horse) to prevent the possibility of electrocution.

The security of the stall door is paramount.  Many a competitor has walked up to their stall in the morning to find an open door and their horse nowhere in sight.  The event’s USEA Omnibus listing will often indicate whether or not you need to bring a stall guard, but even if it’s not addressed, bring one just in case.  Also bring a variety of snaps, clips, et cetera, that can be used to secure a questionable door, especially if you know your horse is a hooved Houdini. 

What about insects?  Your top-to-bottom inspection of the stall should have found any wasp or hornet nests (remember to look up), but those are not the only creepy crawlies that could wreak havoc.  Fire ants (remember to look down) are a real problem in many southern states, and should not be underestimated.  They pack a powerfully painful sting (regrettably I can personally attest to this), and can turn a normally placid horse into a whirling dervish, which can injure him and anyone in his vicinity.  Check the stall (and any stalls and areas close by including the aisle way, wash stalls, grazing areas) for signs of ants and nests.  And be careful throughout the weekend.  You could be atop your trusty steed chatting with a friend one minute and sailing through the air the next if you accidentally planted him atop an active nest. 

Before buttoning your horse up for the first night, make sure to post all of your emergency contact information on the stall.  Leave your name, cell number, secondary number if possible (especially if cell service is iffy), your hotel or camping location and numbers of available, any relevant horse info, and if your horse is insured, include the number of the insurance company’s emergency service.  To find out more about insurance for your horse, go to the Broadstone FAQ and Quote pages.

Carbon Monoxide – Campers Beware!

Eventers are a hardy, and oftentimes not especially affluent bunch.  Many of us compete on a tight budget, especially with fuel costs being what they are.  Oftentimes that means camping, whether in a horse trailer or a tent.  By all means, rough it, but be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Unfortunately there have been several deaths to competitors who had a fuel source such as a small camping heater, gas stove, or gas or charcoal grill inside an enclosed space.  When using any of these types of devices, they must not vent into the enclosure, and opening a tent flap, door, or window is not enough ventilation.  Therefore any cooking must be done out in the open (safer to begin with), and no matter how chilly it is, do not bring a heater, stove, grill, or even a gas or flame lantern into your enclosed tent or trailer, and make sure to read the manufacturers’ directions and warnings on these devices.     

Symptoms of CO poisoning are flu-like and include  headache, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, mental confusion.  If you think you might be suffering the effects of CO, or are with someone who starts showing any of these signs, get out into the open immediately, call 911, and find help.  

Loose Horse!

This is not an uncommon phrase to hear shouted during an event, since riders do occasionally become unwillingly separated from their mounts.  Sometimes the suddenly riderless horses will have the kindness to stop and wait for someone to collect them.  Occasionally they’ll even turn around and walk back to their rider.  (I love these horses—they should be cloned—unless, of course, they purposely ejected their rider!)

It’s unfortunately more likely that a suddenly free horse, revved up on adrenaline, will say “See ya!” and gallop off in the direction of stabling.  I try not to think of it so much as him leaving me, as him heading for the comfort of his stall and newly developed for-the-weekend herdmates.

So, what to do if you’re walking across the course and see a loose horse heading in your direction?  First and foremost, if it is galloping pell mell in your direction like an extra from a battle scene in Braveheart— and you did not enjoy a former career as a rodeo clown or circus trick rider—get out of the way!  A panicked (or mischievously joyful) loose horse is dangerous for many reasons, the first of which is that they can inadvertently run you down.  While it is true that most horse will do their best to avoid hitting you, there have been many instances when a well-meaning spectator realized at the last second that capture is out of the question and then zigged when they thought the horse would zag, a split second later finding themselves flat on their back.  

A possible exception to this rule:  If the horse is heading into danger, to itself or others (such as a road), you might want to consider waving him off into a safer direction.  If you do this, do not plant yourself directly in the horse’s path; just stand in his general field of vision and do your best to get his attention and shoo him into a less dangerous direction. 

Drive Safely!

Golf carts, ATVs, Gators, Mules, scooters and the like can make life much simpler at an event, getting you to and fro quickly and efficiently, especially as you “walk” your cross-country course a third or fourth time.  Before you drive hither and yon around the event site, check the Omnibus page to find out if there are any access restrictions—for example, many events do not allow motorized vehicles on course at all.

Once you know where you can drive, please make sure to do so safely.  Golf carts and ATVs are the bane of a liability insurance claims adjuster’s existence:  golf cart meets tree, golf cart meets spectator (I know whereof I speak, having been a dented spectator), ATV meets golf cart, ATV meets random spectator’s truck, and so on.  So please, when you’re behind the wheel of whatever type of vehicle at an event, pay attention, drive at a reasonable speed (i.e. very slow, slow enough to avoid hitting a darting Corgi, small child, or loose horse), and be courteous to spectators and fellow drivers.       

When You’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Considering the violent weather that has been seen all over the country this year, it is a good idea to have a plan of action in mind in the event of an emergency, such as a tornado, severe thunderstorm, or even wildfire.  Again, these topics each deserve their own article, but here are some highlights.

If you see lightning or hear thunder, even in the distance, and you’re out in the open, you are already in danger.  The storm does not have to be right on top of you to produce lightning.  As quickly as possible make your way to a building or vehicle. See this article to see how several cross-country spectators were injured in a lightning strike.

If the weather is questionable, keep an eye on the radar. There are a variety of websites and apps that will help with this. My favorite website is www.weatherunderground.com, which has seldom lead me astray.

Remember: when in doubt, take cover – better safe than sorry!

Next up:  Horse Care Safety Tips

 

 

 

Better Safe - Part I

Part I - Preparing for & Getting to Your Next Competition

Let me kick this off with an admission:  I am a first-class worrier.  I get this trait honestly, the perfect storm of nature, nurture, and life experience.  On the nature side I have my father, a man who has finely honed the art of anxious rumination, and passed that trait (along with my dimple and poor eyesight) on to me. When it comes to nurture, my less worry-ridden, more practical mother kept me safe from the many risks of childhood not just by issuing purely random orders--“don’t put that fork in the electric socket”--but by explaining that if I were to do such a foolish thing, I could be “electrocuted and killed.” And I believed her. 

Then life experience backed up many of her dire predictions, the most memorable  when I was four years old and my clearly foolhardy older brother and cousin crawled behind my grandmother’s couch and poked a random metal object into the socket, “to see what would happen,” since they obviously didn’t believe in my mom’s omniscience.   This resulted in a lightning bolt-like arc of electricity, acrid smelling smoke, and frantic family members.  Dad literally heaved the couch away from the wall with one hand, and yanked my brother and cousin out with the other.  Thankfully they lived to tell the tale, but I sometimes wonder if they suffered long term brain damage considering the other predicaments they got into throughout the years. But that’s a different blog topic altogether.

Add to these memorable life experiences the fact that I have been in the horse insurance industry on various levels for almost two decades, and you can imagine why I might have developed what I consider a healthy paranoia, with one of my life philosophies being, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that life’s not out to get you.”

But enough about me.   The purpose of this four-part series is to put all that paranoia and life experience to good use and offer some tips that can keep you and your horse safe while on the road and at home, with this issue’s installment focusing on getting you ready to head out to your next competition.

Preparation is Key

When at a competition, having everything you need at your fingertips is important for a variety of reasons.  Frantically scrambling to find a missing spur/stud/saddle pad is distracting and anxiety inducing, neither of which positions you for a positive performance. Also, having to borrow or buy replacement s at the last minute puts you out on course or in the ring using unfamiliar equipment, which can be distracting to you and your mount.  Focus is arguably the most important factor when it comes to preventing mishaps (your first priority) and finishing in the ribbons (a very nice bonus).

So, when you’re getting ready at home, make a list, check it twice, then again if possible, and leave nothing to chance.  And not only should all of your equipment make it to the event clean and in good working order, once you get there it should all be organized and categorized in whatever system works best for you.

Inspect Your Stuff

Sure, you clean your tack after every use, but how often do you check it for serious wear and tear?  A combination of sweat, water, soap and oil will break down even the best cared-for leather.  Before you head to your next competition, inspect all of your tack, paying special attention to webbing, stitching, and areas that bear the brunt of the stress, such as stirrup leathers, girths, and reins.  If you see any thinning or fraying, replace it immediately because the last place you want to be when a rein or stirrup gives way is galloping downhill toward an imposing oxer.   Don’t think it can happen to you?  There are several top riders who would beg to differ, though thankfully they were able to MacGyver a bridle back together or even successfully negotiate almost an entire cross-country course with one stirrup.  Very impressive, but let’s leave those feats to the professionals and their experienced and relatively unflappable mounts.

Hitting the Road

Whole articles, probably entire books, have been written on trailer safety.  Since we don’t have the space for that, I’ll hit the highlights.

First, give your trailer a walk-through before every use, being especially vigilant in your inspection if it has been a while since your last trip.  Pay close attention to the floor, including pulling up the mats, since urine and manure can be a damaging mix, and make sure no flying insects have decided to build their latest home in your trailer’s nooks and crannies.    

When it comes to your towing vehicle and trailer, the most likely cause of a tire blow-out is incorrect tire air pressure.  Check every single tire to make sure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications. At the same time check for any excessive or uneven wear on the tires and make sure the lug nuts are all tight.  And make sure your spares are in good shape as well.

Your tow vehicle should be up-to-date on all maintenance, and have all fluid levels topped off.  Check to make sure your brakes are in good working order and that all lights are functional.  Keep both human and horse first-aid kits in your truck, extra halters and leads, and emergency equipment (jumper cables, reflector triangle, spare tire(s) and tire changing tools, flashlight, basic tool kit, and fire extinguisher).  Also, somewhere very easy to access, such as your glove compartment, and someplace very visible, like taped to your trailer door, post a list of emergency phone numbers and basic horse care information so that in the event you are incapacitated in an accident, emergency workers have the information they need to best take care of you and your horses. 

In addition, if you have Mortality and/or Major Medical/Surgical coverage on your horse, make sure to have your policy information and claims office number.  For more information on insurance coverage options for your horse, go to the Protect Your Horse and Quote pages of our website.

Shipping horses is a relatively risky proposition, so take every step you can to make sure your horse is as protected as possible.  Since they don’t make horse-sized bubble wrap, you’ll have to make due with high quality shipping boots (that protect from knee or hock down to the coronet band and bulbs of the heels), sheet or blanket (depending on the weather conditions), and even a head bumper.  These went out of fashion as trailers became taller, but having witnessed a horse rear while unloading and literally scalp herself (lots of stitches and good vet care later, she healed well), I consider it a good investment.  Check out www.bitofbritain for everything you’ll need, and receive a five percent discount if you’re a current USEA member!

And consider signing yourself up for a horse-specific emergency roadside assistance program such as USRider.  Typical auto services such as AAA will not deal with your trailer or your horses, which is something you do not want to find out while stranded on the side of the road.  Contact www.USRider.org for details.

More Tips

* If you stop anywhere and leave the trailer unattended, recheck the hitch and all doors. 

* If possible, travel with a companion.

* Focus on the road, not on your cell phone. 

* Have a well planned route with a GPS if possible.

*  Get as much sleep as you can the night before

* Hydrate and eat healthy (well, as healthy as possible).

Next up: Arriving at the event, and tips to keep you and your horse safe and poised for your best performance.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.

 

 

Horse Insurance 101

Let's face it, insurance falls way to the bottom of the list of topics any horse owner wants to talk about. Discussing worst case scenarios doesn't exactly make for enjoyable barn aisle or ringside small talk. Unfortunately, as in many areas of life, what you don't know can hurt you.

So without being too morbid, but in the interest of helping you protect your investments--especially in these still tough economic times--following is some information that might help you consider putting "Get Horse Insurance" on your to-do list.

The Basics The basic idea behind insurance is that you are paying a fee to an insurance company in order to transfer your risk of a possi le loss to them, and the fee you are paying is significantly less than the amount the company has agreed to pay you in the event such a loss happens. So, if you cannot afford to replace your horse in the event of a loss, or even more important for many of us, if you cannot afford the costs of veterinary care in the event your horse suffers a serious illness or injury, insurance can be a cost effective way to mitigate your risk.

For many of us, our horses are best friends and family, and we absolutely do not want to be in a situation where financial considerations dictate the quality of care that we're able to provide. Or, even if you have the funds on hand to absorb these losses, you may still choose to invest a much smaller amount each year on insurance premiums so that you are not forced to tap into your savings if the unexpected happens.

The Experts

Deciding what coverage to purchase is quite important. While the basics are similar, the actual coverages vary depending on which insurance company provides it. The number of insurance companies in the U.S. that offer horse insurance policies barely reaches into the double digits, though the number of agencies (the organizations that you will usually work with to see about getting coverage) is possibly into the triple digits. Therefore the insurance agency you work with is very important.

It can be helpful if they have access to more than one company's programs so they have options to find a policy that fits you best, from both a cost and coverage standpoint. Look for someone who is willing to answer your questions promptly and clearly, responds to emails and voice mails in a timely manner, and will provide you with a binder as proof of coverage until the actual insurance policy is mailed to you. And most important--find an agent who is also an experienced horse person. They need to know combined driving from combined training, or a hock from a hole in the ground. You want someone who understands your passion.

Full Mortality Insurance

When it comes to horse insurance, there are several options. For the purposes of this blog, I will concentrate on the two most common: Full Mortality and Major Medical/Surgical. The equine Full Mortality policy is the equivalent of life insurance for your horse. It provides coverage in the event the insured horse dies during the policy period from a covered accident, injury, illness, or disease, and includes coverage for humane destruction, and usually has limited coverage for theft.

Depending on the insurance company, Full Mortality coverage is available for horses ranging in age from 24 hours up to 20 years old. Premiums are based on the horse's age, breed, use, level, and insured value. The rates for Full Mortality coverage for the average pleasure or competition horse--uses that would include English/Western Show, Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, Cutting, Reining, Roping, Barrels--age 1-15 years, generally range from 2.9% – 3.6% of the horse's insured value. So the Mortality premium for a horse insured at a value of $10,000 would average between $290 - $360 a year. Rates for some uses, such as eventing, fox hunting, and endurance, are usually slightly higher, from 3.7% - 4.5%, so still reasonable.

Typically the Full Mortality policy also includes a free Emergency Colic Surgery endorsement (for horses without a colic history) of up to $2,500-$5,000, depending on the horse's insured value and the insurance company. Full Mortality coverage is very comprehensive, but exact coverage terms vary by company. Common exclusions (reasons that could cause a claim to be denied) include, but are not limited to: pre-existing conditions, purposely harming the horse, not utilizing the services of a licensed veterinarian, late reporting of a loss, and some pretty farfetched possibilities such as war, destruction of the horse due to government order, and nuclear radiation. In addition, not only is it important to contact the insurance company immediately in the event of a loss, you must also follow their instructions with regard to the submission of paperwork and the possibility of the need for a necropsy, the cost of which would not be reimbursed.

Major Medical/Surgical

This is the most popular coverage that horseowners add by endorsement to their Mortality policy, and is not available on a standalone basis. It helps reimburse for covered veterinary expenses (medical and/or surgical) in the event the horse suffers a covered accident, injury, illness, or disease during the policy period. For as little as an additional $200 annual premium (depending on the insurance company), the endorsement can provide for an annual aggregate limit of $5,000 for the policy period, with deductibles as low as $300 per claim. Higher annual limits of $7,500, $10,000, $12,500 and $15,000 are also available with many companies, with varying deductibles, and annual premiums ranging from $300 to $675 or higher.

Major Medical/Surgical does not provide for routine health maintenance or preventative care such vaccinations, deworming, dental or farrier care. Other common exclusions (though this is not an exhaustive list) include: pre-existing conditions, elective or cosmetic surgery, performance enhancing treatments, joint injections, integrative therapies (such as chiropractic, massage and acupuncture), the veterinarian's call charge, or transportation costs.

So if your horse colics, founders, runs through a fence, gets kicked, develops a lameness, or suffers many of the other countless injuries or illnesses that can keep you up at night, Major Medical/Surgical should help reimburse for covered expenses after the deductible is met. The actual coverage details vary depending on the insurance company, so it's a good idea to educate yourself about exclusions, co-pays or co-insurance (especially for diagnostic tests, and treatments such as shock wave and regenerative therapies), treatment time limits, and extension periods.

Think your horse wouldn't be a candidate for Major Medical/Surgical because he is used for just pleasure and/or you only paid a couple hundred or thousand dollars for him? While some companies will not offer the coverage on lower valued horses, there are a few that do not have restrictions on the amount of Major Medical/Surgical coverage they will offer, regardless of the horse's insured value on the Full Mortality policy.

For more information on Full Mortality and Major Medical/Surgical coverages, go to the Broadstone Protect Your Horse and FAQ pages.

Caveat Emptor

A few "let the buyer beware" items for consideration. Horse insurance is very different from human health insurance. For example, pre-existing conditions are not covered, even if the horse was insured when it first contracted the disease or condition. So, if for example your horse develops a lameness or requires colic surgery while he's insured, expect to see an exclusion for that health issue on the next year's policy when you renew. This is because the policies are reviewed and underwritten each year, therefore the condition would be considered pre-existing and therefore excluded on the new policy.

That being said, there are typically extension periods built into the policy for issues that continue beyond the policy's expiration. Also, as mentioned earlier, it is very important that you contact the insurance company as soon as a health issue presents itself. The policy requires it, and you could jeopardize your coverage if you fail to promptly report the issue. It is also in your best interest to do so because the claims adjuster can explain your coverage in detail so you can work with your vet and make a plan with that information in mind.

Something to Think About

There is no doubt that pondering all the worst case scenarios of horse ownership is uncomfortable at best, nightmare inducing at worst, which is another reason to consider insurance. Knowing that you're covered in case of the unthinkable buys you more than financial security. It also gives your peace of mind. To get a free, online quote, go to the Broadstone Quote Page.

**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.