Posted 22-Jun-2019 01:15:42
Category: Broadstone Equine
While talking about horse insurance to prospective clients every day, our representatives field many of the same questions, so we thought we would share some of the more common inquiries in this blog.
1. I just bought a horse that is already insured, does his policy just automatically transfer to me?
I just sold my horse and he’s insured. Will his policy just automatically transfer to his new owner?
Most likely the answer is no. Your insurance policy on a horse that you own is only in effect while you have an insurable interest in the horse. Just like if you sold your car, the insurance on the car would not transfer to the new owner, the same is true of horse insurance. So if you’re selling your horse, the new owners need to see about getting their own insurance in place as of the time of the sale. And conversely, if you are in the process of purchasing a new horse and want to make sure that coverage is in place as soon as you own the horse, make sure to have all the paperwork for your new policy in order and to an equine insurance agent for their review (and hopefully their approval) prior to the purchase so you can make coverage effective the day of the sale.
2. My horse isn’t registered – can I still insure him? If so, what type of identification can I use?
Yes, there is no problem insuring an unregistered horse.
Some companies do not require identification. For those that do, if your horse isn’t registered you can use a microchip number if one is available. If not, then photos can be used as identification. Typically front and side views are all that are necessary, and if you need a few days to get those to us, that’s fine, we can still see about getting coverage started pending receipt of the photos. And with just about everyone having a smart phone these days (and let's face it, we all love taking photos of our horses), emailing photos to us should hopefully be easy for you.
3. Do I need a copy of the Bill of Sale to get coverage started on my new horse?
No. We do not need a copy of the bill of sale for our records in order to start a policy, but you definitely want to keep that document on file because in the event of a Mortality claim, the claims adjuster will ask you for proof of the sale and the purchase price. They may also ask for proof of the financial transaction, such as a cancelled check, receipt, or proof of a wire transfer.
4. Can I just call and insure my horse over the phone?
This depends on the agency and the insurance company they are placing coverage with. At Broadstone, we usually require an application to be completed by the horse owner (or lessee if the horse is being leased). The application asks for very important information with regard to the horse and the coverages that you want, and we feel it is best that we have that information in writing from you so there are no misunderstandings.
That said, we make the paperwork as easy to complete as possible. The application can be filled out and signed as a fillable PDF and then emailed to us. Or completed by hand and scanned/emailed, faxed, or even sent as a picture from your smart phone. As long as we can read the application (and all the questions are answered) and it is signed/dated by you, and we have any other required paperwork, we should be able to help.
In some instances (though not many) we may also need a current vet certificate or copy of the pre-purchase exam. See the next question for those details. And if the horse is being leased, we will also need a copy of the Lease Agreement.
5. Do I have to pay a vet to examine the horse before I can get him insured?
In most cases for sound and healthy horses, you do not. That said, you will definitely need a current vet certificate (or copy of the pre-purchase exam for a recent purchase) for horses to be insured for over a certain value (typically $50,000- $100,000) or ages under 6 months or over 15 or 16 (depending on the company). Something from the vet may also be necessary if the horse has had a recent injury or illness that the underwriter would like addressed. In addition, with one company that we work with, if you have not known the horse for at least 30 days, a vet certificate will also be required.
6. If I have a claim, my horse won’t be insurable any more, right?
In the majority of cases, a claim does not make a horse uninsurable. Typically when the policy is due to expire, the underwriter will review the details of the claim and determine if they will offer renewal (which they usually will), and if so, if any exclusions will apply at renewal. Horse insurance policies are 12-month term policies, and are underwritten every year. So issues that occur during the policy period can be considered pre-existing, and therefore excluded, on the next year’s policy. This can be confusing, as it is unlike human health insurance policies, so you will want to talk to your agent to make sure you understand the renewal process and any exclusions.
7. OK, then if my horse has a minor leg injury, the whole leg is going to be excluded forever, right?
In most cases, this would not be the case. Providing the injury has been diagnosed and the underwriters have sufficient information to work with, they will typically exclude for the injury that has occurred, such as deep digital flexor tendon - right front, not the whole right front leg. Exclusions on horse insurance policies vary depending on the situation and the insurance company, but the underwriters do try to be as specific as is reasonably possible.
8. I had a friend who walked into her barn one morning and found her horse lying dead its stall. She said that the insurance company required a necropsy. Is a necropsy always required? If so, do I have to pay for it?
If you are unfortunate enough to be in this type of situation, you first want to give the insurance company’s claims office a call immediately. They can then advise you on how to follow the provisions of the policy to ensure the best result. If the horse was previously healthy and the death is unexpected, then a necropsy will definitely be required, and those costs are not covered by your policy, so you would pay out of pocket. If the horse had been ill/injured and under a vet’s care, there is the possibility that a necropsy may not be necessary, if the cause of death is definitive, but that will be determined by the insurance company depending on the specifics of the case.
If you find yourself in this situation—do not dispose of the horse’s body without contacting the insurance company and determining if a necropsy is required, otherwise you will void coverage under your policy. Claims adjusters are available around the clock, including nights and weekends, and will do their best to help you through this type of heartbreaking situation.
9. My horse was a little girthy and grumpy. The vet thought it might be gastric ulcers, so we just gave him a course of medication without doing any diagnostics. Would that be covered under my Medical/Surgical coverage?
Most likely, this would not be covered. If your equine medical insurance covers gastric ulcers, it is very likely that the insurance company will require a definitive diagnosis of gastric ulcers by an endoscopic exam before they cover the costs of the medication to treat the ulcers (and then there will likely be a dollar limit for the amount of coverage for treatment). If your vet suspects that your horse has gastric ulcers and wants to treat without an endoscopic exam, before starting treatment you should contact your insurance company and consult with an adjuster to determine what the company will require in order for coverage to respond.
10. I don’t know what limit of Medical/Surgical type of coverage I should get. Any advice?
This question comes up quite often, and the answer varies based on what limits are even available (some companies will not offer a Medical/Surgical coverage limit higher than the horse’s insured value on the Mortality policy), your budget, your comfort level, and past history. Some people want the peace of mind of knowing that a worst case scenario will be covered as much as possible, and therefore will purchase the highest limit of coverage allowed. Others would rather save some money and purchase a lower limit, hedging their bets that they won’t need the coverage, or if they do, it won’t be for a catastrophic scenario. And that even if that worst case scenario happens, they feel comfortable that they have the funds (or credit card balance) to handle expenses not covered by their horse insurance. And for those horseowners who have experienced an unfortunate run of bad luck with a previous horse, their past history often informs their decisions and they will want a high limit. In our experience, the $7,500 and $10,000 limits are most popular, but those may not be suitable for you, especially if you’re concerned about a worst case scenario.
11. I just bought my horse, but I think I may want to save some money on the premium and insure him for less than the purchase price. What do most people do in that situation?
Generally most people insure a new horse for its purchase price, but certainly not always. Keep in mind that the process of introducing a horse to a new location, new feed, new barn mates, turnout, etc., can be tricky. Most likely no damage will be done in those first days and weeks, but change can be difficult for some horses. Like with Medical/Surgical coverage limits, how much you insure your horse for is a very personal decision, and will be based on your budget, your comfort level, and past history. Also, take into consideration that if heaven forbid your newly purchased horse dies, and you have insured for less than his purchase price, are you able to afford to absorb that financial loss?
12. I had a bad experience in the past with a horse that had colic surgery. There were serious complications and he died. I would not put another horse through that. So if I insure my horse and he colics, and I choose to put him down instead of surgery (or if because I don’t approve surgery, he dies as a result), would my Equine Mortality policy still cover.
Probably not. When you purchase an equine insurance policy, you have made an agreement with an insurance company, and one of your responsibilities is to provide your horse with the care necessary to save its life. If the veterinarians recommend surgery (or other treatments) in order to save the horse, and you choose not to pursue those treatments, which results in the horse's death, or you choose to euthanize the horse, most likely the policy will not respond. Now if your vet recommends euthanasia, this could be a different set of circumstances, as the policy does cover for humane destruction, providing the circumstances it meet the policy's requirements. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to contact the insurance company’s claims office immediately and work with an adjuster to determine how the policy will respond.
**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.