A question we get asked a lot! There isn’t a one word answer to this query, but there are a number of factors to consider which may help you decide if it is a cover you may benefit from e.g. what is the horse used for, what is the horse’s value and could you afford another one if your horse was no longer able to be used for its main discipline due to an injury?
The first thing to look at is what you are using the horse for i.e. how great is the risk? An eventer competing at Intermediate level is at much greater risk of incurring a significant injury in comparison to a horse used for hacking. There is also an increased likelihood that the eventer may not be able to return to the previous level of work following a serious injury, whereas the hacking horse may still be able to fulfil his purpose. A serious tendon injury may result in a horse having to be retired from eventing but if the horse has only been used for a lower level of work then he may be able to return to these activities. Where the horse is used for a specific discipline, the inclusion of Loss of Use cover on a policy is usually given greater consideration by the owner.
Consider the position you would find yourself in if you were eventing at affiliated level, or jumping 1.30m tracks or competing at Medium level dressage and unexpectedly you find yourself no longer able to continue with your competition goals due to a serious injury to your horse. Would you be able to finance a replacement if you wanted to continue competing at a similar level? The value of the horse is very important when considering Loss of Use cover; the Sum you insure your horse for should reflect its current market value. Loss of Use cover may assist you in the purchase of another horse of a similar value and experience to enable you to carry on at the level you were at previously, rather than only having a limited budget to buy a less experienced horse, or not being able to afford any horse at all.
The most important point to be aware of with regards to this specific insurance cover is that the injury must be permanent. It does not include temporary inability to participate in the activities insured for. Insurers will require a report from your vet to confirm they support a claim for Loss of Use along with full veterinary evidence detailing the treatment options that have been carried out so far and your vet’s opinion on whether the horse can still be used for any other activities e.g. hacking or breeding. If there are still treatment options that have not yet been pursued then Insurers may request that this avenue is explored first of all. Insurers may also appoint their own veterinary advisor to review the case and if there is any disagreement between the veterinary surgeons then the case may be referred to an independent veterinary surgeon who will act as arbitrator.
Loss of Use cover will be offered at a certain percentage – usually either 100% or 75% of the horse’s current market value or Sum Insured (whichever is less), however, if the horse can still be used for any activity then the settlement may be based on a reduced percentage to take into account the horse’s residual value. Whether the horse is euthanized or kept in retirement may also affect the settlement offered from some insurers.
There are certain general exclusions that normally apply to this section of cover, including but not limited to, any blemishes that prevent the horse from competing in any showing classes and any claims due to behavioural issues that are not the result of a clinically diagnosed condition.
Your own personal circumstances will help dictate whether this specific cover should be given strong consideration.
Laura Swinnerton has worked in the insurance industry since 2006 after achieving a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science from The University of the West of England. She studied at Hartpury College in Gloucester and has extensive equine knowledge from personal experiences as well as further professional training. She has two horses to compete –‘Molly’ who is an Intermediate/ CCI** level eventer and ‘Lex’ who showjumps at 1.35m level – and can regularly be seen competing around the UK.