The insurance dilemma
Let me start by saying that I have pretty much always kept my horses insured with theft/mortality and medical/surgical. I figure that I have easily shelled out over $20,000 on premiums over the past 20 years (different horses, different policies). I have only filed two claims in that time, for veterinary expenses, and have recouped maybe $5000 in total (one claim was for some high end diagnostics).
Last year, I dropped the value on both of them to get my premiums down to a manageable rate, but I am still looking at close to $2000/year to insure them. So, for the first time ever, I am seriously considering dropping coverage on both of them and just taking my chances with fate.
Good idea, or not?
Never insure what you can afford to replace or repair. JMHO
Originally Posted by chirojerry
And thus endeth the lesson.
I'm the third vote for not insuring if you can afford the expenses.
I insure purely for peace of mind, and told my insurance agent I hope it's all a waste of money.
I can not afford to shell out for colic surgery in one fell swoop right now, and have two horses for whom I would go that route. Same with very expensive care for some sort of lameness. Those two are therefore insured. The other two are lower value and one is crippled where any kind of recovery from a major surgery would likely be extremely hard on her poor weakened legs and leave her suffering. They are not insured.
My goal is to have enough to be able to instantly pay for colic surgery or other major incident on a horse if it were needed (eye surgeries seem to have been a common one for folks I know recently), but for now I don't have that money saved up and the peace of mind is worth it to avoid worry.
Originally Posted by chirojerry
For some of us, the repair is the clincher. Cost of repair for my gal could run to be over her bargain basement purchase price.
OP, your situation is most likely different from mine, based on your reported premium.
I "self" insure and have for several years. I want control of my horse in the event of a major illness or injury.
Likewise, when I stopped insuring (7 years ago), I had forked out almost $5000 in premiums in the previous years and had one claim for $450. I now have a plump 5 figure savings account earmarked for the Animal Vet account. I can't/won't go to the ends of the earth to save an animal but my account allows me to not have to make any snap decisions in the middle of the night because I don't have the money.
Should my financial circumstance change and I have to tap into the vet account for people use...I might just pay out that $500 per year to insure my horse but currently, I am going to pay myself to insure that she has some basic but substantial coverage and that I have control over her medical needs, not the insurance company.
One round of pleuropneumonia so far (8 weeks) $9825.00, and it is not over yet. Horse has been in hosp 3 times and is on every 6 hour meds. Partner in horse cancelled insurance without telling me 30 days before horse got sick. Without treatment he would have died a horrible death,and this is treatable (time consuming)without any problems later (all ultrasounds say no lung damage)but bottom line it is looking like bill will be somewhere about $15000.00 when it is done if he keeps improving.
Insurance came in very handy this year for me. Between ulcers and navicular bone fractures, I'm using up every dollar of my $10,000 limit (unfortunately even shelling out a few $1000's more out of pocket). I only just insured my horse a year ago. The clincher for me in my decision to insure was watching another horse at my barn get a little wound above his knee ad it turning into a bone abscess that needed surgery. I thought to myself, what would I do if that were me/my horse? My husband would resent my horse forever if we had to shell out $10,000 at once, nor could we do it.
I think horse owners who have not had a major injury/illness and rarely have vet bills are lucky... Or maybe I'm just unlucky ;)
Individual call. You never give up "control" unless you have a loss of use policy. The insurance company may refuse to pay, but you can certainly still pay for care if you want to -- your call.
I just had a mystery lameness -- best way to diagnose was a bone scan, and some moderately pricey treatment thereafter. No question the insurance payout will exceed my premium. I have had some years when this happened, and some years (and some horses ) when it didn't.
Sure did like the mortality payout enabling me to buy another horse when mine had a pasture accident.
I think this is really a personal choice. I would rather set aside a known quantity of money every year for peace of mind. Others run the numbers and conclude they are likely to come out ahead by simply saving the money. Which sounds better to you? You can come up with many anecdotes about insurance saving money, or being a waste. Comes down to how you like to think about risk and financial commitment. No one right answer.
I insured our mare for a few years after I bought her, but then decided to cancel. The only claim I would have had was her tooth extraction and two years later, a sinus flush. By then, she was 18 and would not have been covered anyway. I was glad I had not paid all these premiums for nothing, but that I had the $8K it cost me for these two incidents (including trailering to clinic and message on top of vet visits, clinic stays...)
I understand your pain. I've dropped my mortality value to lower levels-nothing close to replacement value but it would get me a green bean. I'm more interested in keeping the medical/surgical in place. If you drop the medical/surg could you get into some kind of program that pays for colic surgery. That one always seems like the most likely. I'm keeping mine in place for the time being. A number of years ago I collected for the death of a young hunter.
I just dropped the insurance on my horse end of last year. I had it for about 6 years. I dropped his value twice. He is getting close to the cut off age anyways.
I filed 2 major claims (2006 and 2009) that maxed out the amount allowed for each claim (about $20,000). Unfortunately, he is not covered for those specific issues anymore.... that whole exclusion thing once they have an issue that you file a claim on which pretty much leaves only 1 leg insured and that's about it. He had LF, RH, LH issues from a dropped hip (2006) and then emergency colic surgery (2009). So 3 legs aren't covered and ANY gastro issues aren't covered. Well, to me, that pretty much makes up the whole horse. :lol:
I figured I got my money's worth. I paid much less in premiums for those 6 years than if I had to pay both of those huge bills.
But at this point, since nothing big is really covered anymore, I decided to drop it. I decided before then what I would treat and not treat with my guy.
I just insured my horse and it is good for my peace of mind!!! I was going to insure him when he finished his training at the end of this year but he cut himself last month and the vet bill was more than what his premium would have been for the year. I ended up going ahead and insuring him early. I am more interested in the major medical than the mortality but obviously have both since mortality is required.
I think it depends on a couple of things...
What is the monetary value/replacement value of the horse? If it's a big number and not something you could afford to do out of pocket, then insurance makes sense.
What are you willing to do medically/financially? For me, I would not pursue a colic surgery on my mare. But some people might. (I can't get medical on my mare at this point anyway due to age, so it's a moot point...just using it as an example.)
I have not (knock on wood) had any horse related vet bills that were more than 2-3k in the last 25 years of having multiple horses. I don't own any high value critters. So for me, insurance would probably be a waste of money. The high dollar procedures I can think of are not on my list of options. I just wouldn't do them.
My DOG on the other hand? He has cost me more in the last 12 mos than any combination of horses have in 30 years. I WISH I had had insurance on him from the get go.
I found the exclusions and limitations so confusing that I gave up on the idea and have decided to self insure. We have more than enough to pay for any prodcedure that I would consider. It might be a fight to bring DH around to the idea of paying 10K for colic surgery, but there is no question that if the prognosis were positive, I can and would afford it.
Regardless of who you go with, make sure you know your policy inside and out! Is your horse insured for "agreed value" or "actual cash value" (fair market value)? With agreed value, if your horse is insured for $10,000 and the horse dies, the insurance will pay out $10,000 as long as there is proof of value. With actual cash value, you may be paying premiums on $10,000 for 5 years, but if your horse dies, the insurance company will only pay out what your horse is worth at the time of death (fair market value). If the economy tanks, etc., and the fair market value is only $4,000, that is unfortunately all you will get.
Most horse owners are under the impression that if they insured their horse for $20,000 and they've paid their premiums every year that they will get $20,000 if they die. Unfortunately, no always true!
Regardless of the insurance company you choose, please, please, please make sure to keep good records on your insured horses - including pictures, video and show records....and remember to continue to update them! I've done several very tough equine appraisal cases in which the owner didn't have a single photo or video of their insured horses that passed away, no show record, nothing....which makes it extremely tough to prove their value! And, if you feel like the insurance company is giving you the run around, and you truly believe your horse is worth more, get your own independent equine appraisal done and present it to the insurance company. I do a lot of these...and it does work!
I've got a few insurance tips and tricks on my website and on our Facebook page to help horse owners...so my job isn't so hard if someone needs to make a claim at some point!
Daventry Equine Appraisal Services