Checking Out Equine Insurance

Is there any way we can check to see if insurance companies have good reputations?
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I recently read your article in the February 2001 issue about horse insurance by Les Sellnow. What I would like to know is how to check and find out if the horse insurance you have is with a company with a good reputation. I have had my insurance for eight years, and I have never had to use it. I’ve been told by several people that when it came time to make claims, their insurance companies were hard to collect from. Is there any way we can check to see if insurance companies have good reputations?

    

A  When you talk about reputation and insurance, you are really involved with two separate areas. First, there’s the reputation of the agent that has sold you the coverage as well as the reputation of the actual insurance carrier (the people that will write a check if you have a loss). To check out the agent; you are probably best off treating this like any other business relationship and asking for references or long-term customers that would be willing to talk to you. Also, questions such as how long they have been involved in the specialized area of horse insurance, length of time they have represented the insurance carrier; etc., might add to your comfort level or act as a warning light. Another legitimate question for the company would be what kind of commitment they have to horse coverages–is horse insurance just a small piece of their overall operation, or do they have some real commitment to the industry?

As far as the actual insurance carrier is concerned, a basic item would be checking on their A.M. Best rating (https://www.ambest.com). The A.M. Best rating should be readily provided to you by the agent, but if there is a reluctance or if you want to do some research on your own, most libraries have A.M. Best information in their reference department. The top category is Superior, followed by Excellent, Very Good, Fair, Marginal, Weak, and Poor. You might even contact the carrier and talk to their claim department about claim procedures. Are they reasonably easy to access? Do they support the horse industry?

Also, you might check with the State Insurance Department (https://www.ambest.com/directory/govdir.html). Some states are very helpful, while others are less than accommodating as far as information is concerned. Most State Insurance Departments keep information on numbers of complaints against insurance carriers, and some keep similar information concerning agents. One should ascertain if the insurance carrier is licensed to do business (an admitted carrier) in their particular state. You can find that information in the Territory section in the A.M. Best report or from your State Insurance Department

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Written by:

Duncan Alexander is the Equine Industry Board Member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

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