Any object with significant monetary value can, and often should (and occasionally must) be insured.
Frequently insured items include major purchases such as cars and homes but can also include luxury items such as jewelry and rare collectibles. This insurance protects the owner in case these valuable assets become damaged, stolen, or lose their value in more or less any way.
Many horse owners balk at the idea of insuring their horses because it can feel as though the act of insuring is reducing to a dollar amount what is actually a living, feeling being. However, in most instances, a horse has practical value beyond companionship: they may aid in completing tasks on a farm, provide their owner a mode of transport, or earn their owners additional money through sales, competing, or breeding. Therefore, it is often in the owner’s best interest to purchase some type of insurance for their horses.
What kinds of equine-related insurance exist, and how can they protect owners? Here are some examples.
This form of insurance is absolutely required for anyone owning or managing a facility that houses horses, but it is also a good idea to have liability insurance on a horse that you own, even if it is boarded elsewhere.
Like all animals, horses cannot speak, so their behaviors are often unpredictable, especially in unfamiliar situations. Should your horse get loose and damage someone else’s property, or worse, injure someone, liability insurance will protect you from being sued by the victim of your horse’s outburst. This type of insurance will not only protect you, but it will ensure that anyone your horse accidentally causes harm to will be taken care of.
Horses also have a knack for causing themselves injuries. An event as minor as a stumble can cause catastrophic results for an animal as top-heavy as a horse. Their unique build can also lead to ailments not found in other domesticated animals; for example, gastrointestinal disorders such as colic are especially dangerous to horses, as they cannot vomit. Horses, especially those tasked with heavily-involved disciplines like rodeo or racing, often require specialized veterinary care.
As with humans, this care can quickly become pricey. Typical veterinary care costs $350-$600 annually, and emergency vet visits can easily run in the thousands. For $150-$500 per year, veterinary insurance can help keep these inevitable incidents from becoming incredibly financially burdensome.
This type of insurance can be vital to owners of racehorses, who are often flown or driven to different tracks for horse racing. Travel involves a lot of changes in a short amount of time, which can cause disaster for an animal as routine-driven as a horse.
Travel insurance keeps you financially safe in case something goes wrong during the loading and transport of your horse, whatever the distance or method.
The horses most successful in their given discipline are often desirable breeding partners. If you own a stallion with good lineage who has performed well in races or shows, mare owners may pay you well to breed with him. However, natural flukes happen, and occasionally, a stallion will become severely subfertile or sterile.
When this happens, fertility insurance can protect the stallion’s owners. A famous example of fertility insurance saving the day involved the Thoroughbred stallion Cigar. Although Cigar was a two-time Horse of the Year who had nearly ten million dollars in earnings, he lost more or less all value to breeders when his initial tests showed that he was completely sterile.
Because of his insurance, Allen Paulson and Ashford Stud instead collected a record $25 million payout, and after a few seasons of fertility treatment proved to be futile, he retired to the Kentucky Horse Park and was a tourist attraction until his death in 2014.