A Vet’s Perspective on Equine Insurance

A veterinarian explains the benefits of insurance and what to expect from your policy.
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Equine medical insurance has been available for decades and is designed to assist horse owners with the cost of health conditions and potential loss associated with their horses. Owners obtain medical insurance coverage for a multitude of reasons, including:
  

  1. To provide a portion of financial security on an investment;
  2. To be able to afford future medical diagnostics and procedures; and
  3. To limit some of the financial hardship associated with a major medical condition or potential loss.

For these reasons and others, equine medical insurance has proven extremely beneficial for some horse owners. From a veterinarian’s perspective, equine insurance has afforded both the owner and the veterinarian the ability to pursue certain medical and surgical procedures. While the veterinarian does not have a vested interest in owners maintaining medical insurance, there are many situations in which the owner could not have afforded life-saving therapies and might have considered euthanasia if the horse had not been insured. Consequently, many veterinarians advocate for securing insurance policies if appropriate for the horse owner.  

Those in the industry have witnessed considerable changes in equine insurance and the policies available. In the past two to three years, insurance plans have started to mirror many of the human insurance industry’s business models. For instance, major medical policies require the policy owner to assume more financial responsibility than previously. Some of the changes include higher deductibles, co-payments (which vary from a flat fee to a percentage of the total claim), and a cost-sharing split on specifically covered procedures (i.e., 70% covered by insurance, 30% by the policy holder). Additionally, the age at which a horse is no longer insurable has lowered over the years. Most policies limit coverage to horses 15-18 years of age. Some companies also don’t insure particular types of horses, such as racehorses.

When evaluating a medical condition, the veterinarian’s role is to provide an owner the ideal medical/surgical treatment options for the horse. The horse owner must decide what option is best for his or her individual situation and if it is within their financial limits. Veterinarians, given their frequent interactions with insurance companies, are familiar with the various insurance plans on the market and the current policy trends that influence horse owners’ decisions. Consequently, it is extremely helpful for owners to ask their veterinarians about their policy options and know, specifically, which out-of-pocket expenses they can expect. Most owners who have obtained major medical equine insurance assume “everything is covered” in that policy

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Written by:

Michael N. Fugaro, VMD, Dipl. ACVS owns Mountain Pointe Equine Veterinary Services, an ambulatory practice based in Hackettstown, New Jersey, and is an associate professor of equine studies and the resident veterinarian at Centenary University in Long Valley.

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