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*gulp* I think I'm dropping all of my horse insurance policies.

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  • *gulp* I think I'm dropping all of my horse insurance policies.

    Just got the bill for renewing insurance on the two I currently have insured . . . I've more or less kept up with the changes over time but it struck me, when I compared policies to what I had 6-8 years ago, how much LESS coverage there is for MORE money.

    This past fall one horse banged a tendon, got a lump, everything fine but we did two ultrasounds, etc. Not a huge vet bill all in all but the insurance covered maybe 1/5th of it. And I'll never be able to claim that tendon again.

    So I'm doing the mental mathematics and thinking to myself--I can afford a few hundred or even a few thousand dollar vet bill if they are not too frequent and thank heaven the BIG bills have been incredibly few over time. A big colic bill would hurt, but wouldn't destroy our family budget. And if the worst happened, I could save up and buy another horse within a year's time, which is often how long it takes to find one anyway.

    SO I think I'm going to be "self insured" from now on. Mathematically it makes sense, but it's a pretty new thing for me as I've had most of my horses insured for almost 20 years. Anyone else going this route?
    Click here before you buy.

  • #2
    I have been self insuring for about 7 years. After I had a claim for $300 on a cyst in the 4 year old's nose and insurance refused to pay, I went to self insurance. Insurance denied the claim because the cyst was slow growing, and i could have noticed it in the previous insurance year. The horse was then excluded from coverage on the nose and sinuses.

    Now, each year, I try to put the amount of the insurance premium in my "horse insurance" bank account. If he needs colic surgery, the account should cover it. I also have a credit card that I only use for horse expenses. That could be used to charge a colic surgery, while I waited for a business day when I could get access to the bank account. My banker did ask why I had this account that has almost no activity. She understood when I said it was my horse's colic fund!


    • #3
      I've never had a claim since I've had insurance - which is not to say I haven't had substantial vet expenses - and I hate to add up how much money I would have banked if I'd been self-insuring instead of paying premiums. Previously, I managed to survive a colic and a major injury without insurance.


      • #4
        We renewed DH's insured mare, I think the value is $40k?? Maybe $50k, I can't recall.

        Anyways, it was nearly $2000. With no claims.

        He says it's because he can't afford to replace her. Well, if that were true, then why'd we buy mare no.2, didn't you say she was to replace mare no.1 when she gets retired in a few years???
        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


        • #5
          I have never insured any of mine, I've owned from 1 to 3 for the past 17 years. The money is better spent elsewhere and saved for the situation where I may need it. When you do the math, in just about every situation, it just doesn't make sense to pay those premiums. The point of medical insurance IMO is to keep food on the table should you become super high maintenance medically. With horses, we have some damage control by being able to euthanize if things get bad enough, which makes insurance more of a waste of money in many situations.


          • #6
            I haven't had insurance for my horses since I had only one.....which was 10 or 11 years ago.

            During that time I've had 2 claim-worthy injuries. One was a mare who broke a leg and had to be put down ($800 vet cost, but more impactful was the loss of the horse...$3500 in recoup costs, $35K in "projected value" since she was a nice young sales horse, though she would have only been insured for the minimum). And then my gelding colicked twice this year with total vet-only bills just under $10K.

            In the process of working with 3 different insurance agencies, the total cost to insure my herd comes in around $2500-$3000. So over 10 years I would have spent $25,000 on insurance and it would have saved me about $15,000. The dollars just don't work out.

            I've thought about only insuring the "important" ones, but boy I hate to tempt Murphy and his stupid laws like that. And if I start playing around with insuring the horses for what they're hypothetically worth it gets astronomically far outside of what I could afford to pay anyway.

            If an insurance company would come up with a "floating" claim for people with multiple horses that was more expensive than a single horse, but less expensive than 6, I'd be all over it. But they always yammer on about how then the money doesn't work out for them. Whiners.

            Anyhow, all of that to say; "Yes. I've been on that road for a while." It's not as scary as it seems, though I still fill out insurance enrollment forms for my guys every spring right before we hit the road for the shows and then hyperventilate over the fact that I don't have them insured for a good week or two after I throw the forms away.
            Flying F Sport Horses
            Horses in the NW


            • #7
              I have had many of my horses insured over the last 15 years or so, and do not regret the money spent on insurance. My very first claim was only two months after insuring my first horse that I owned as an adult - she required colic surgery and I was in a new job with very little savings, so having the insurance available was the only way I could do the surgery. Since then, I've paid out a lot of premiums, but also had enough use of it as well ... I'm sure if I went back and looked at it, I did not "lose" money paying premiums vs. what insurance paid in claims, and there is additional value to the peace of mind knowing it is available.

              But over the last few years, things changed as the insurance costs increased but benefits decreased, so I first dropped the two older horses since they had some pre existing issues that weren't covered, and I chose to self insure them, knowing something really big (like a colic surgery) might not happen...we could afford it, yes, but I'd have to decide if it was warranted. The younger, just starting career horses remained insured as they seemed the most likely to need something and would be harder to replace.

              Then my insurance dropped one of them after he had a horrible vet year that completely exhausted his policy, along with the same (or more) amount spent by us. I did not blame them a bit, but at that point I chose to go completely self insured and haven't looked back. Now that some insurers are starting to offer medical only for horses valued at >$15k, I'm not sure i will bother to insure another in the future.

              Now I'd look at it differently if my financial status was such that a colic or other big bill would be difficult to cover. Or if I was buying a pretty expensive horse or had one that was doing so well that the value shot way up. But no chance of that happening anytime soon!


              • #8
                Self insure is my vote - I have been tested this year with some horse issues, but still wouldn't change. If I can't afford to replace it, I don't buy it; if I cant afford to treat it I shouldn't buy it!
                We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                • #9
                  We are not in a position financially to cover a colic that needs surgery or a major injury that would need a lot of rehab and significant diagnostics/therapies. We're also not in a position to go out and buy another horse for DH if anything were to happen to this one. So, for the moment, we're insured. BUT we keep the premium low by WAY undervaluing him for mortality purposes. Basically, we know if the worst happened and we lost him, the insurance money we would get would not cover replacing him with another Advanced horse. But we are covered for colic, major medical and (new this year) "biologic" therapies (stem cells, PRP, IRAP etc), things that would break the bank if we had to pay them out of pocket. Hopefully once we have two incomes we'll be able to save enough to "self insure" but for now it's not in the cards.
                  Balanced Care Equine


                  • #10
                    I've never had any of mine insured. I've also never paid big bucks for any of them. In the case of a surgical colic - I'm sorry horse, but I'm not doing it. My vet is well aware I won't do anything heroic. Fortunately, I've had a healthy bunch of horses with darn few emergency vet bills. In the past 20 years, I'd bet I've spent less than $2000 on e-vet calls (knocking wood!!!) If I had a horse valued at 40-50K+, I'd consider insurance.

                    Dem saddlebreds is sound and healthy critters, and they don't hurt themselves very often...


                    • #11
                      I insure my horses but I try to never file a claim unless the bill is in the thousands. The system is geared to screwing us over in a way, but I also don't want to risk not having financial access to medicine when my horses really need it.


                      • #12
                        I was on the verge of not reinsuring Star in November, but changed my mind at the last minute because, this is, after all Star. My thought in not renewing was that so much was excluded. But I renewed. And then, in mid-Dec he had a mild colic episode and ended up at the clinic because it was quick 5-minute walk away and the vet was at least 2.5 hours out. They initially treated it as they would a farm call, but I asked to have him scoped and checked for stones as long as he was there and because MY gut was telling me something was amiss and, lo and behold, he had grade 2-3 ulcers. The bill was $1300. We treated with Ranititide (hence my Costco revelation) and when we re-checked today they were grade <1. So I guess I am ahead. On this horse I am definitely ahead over time, but not sure if I would be if you factored in the previous horse.

                        I think that, at some point, if you have enough horses that you do end up letting the law of averages and self insurance take care of things.

                        My particular policy pays 100% of diagnostics after a $300 deductible. It's Hallmark Horse FWIW.
                        The Evil Chem Prof


                        • #13
                          Dropped mine this year. Basque more than used up what I paid in with his EPM
                          and later bowed tendon requiring stem cell. He went over the age limit several years ago. Now they have insurance for older horses and kept Cash on it for several years, but it was almost a $1,000 for a $3500 horse who has almost no claims. And the couple of small ones didn't cover near as much as, say, five years ago.


                          • #14
                            At this point in my life my horse is insured. I am a student and a server (and a horse owner- lol), so I don't have the savings to fund a major medical expense.
                            Once I have a 'real' job and am able to save approximately 10K for emergencies I plan to self insure, but it's not realistic right now.
                            Custom Equine Art


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RedRogue View Post
                              At this point in my life my horse is insured. I am a student and a server (and a horse owner- lol), so I don't have the savings to fund a major medical expense.
                              Once I have a 'real' job and am able to save approximately 10K for emergencies I plan to self insure, but it's not realistic right now.
                              This is where I am. Horse is not terribly valuable, so my premium is not too terrible. I am not sure I would have taken on horse if I couldn't get major medical for her.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                                I insure my horses but I try to never file a claim unless the bill is in the thousands. The system is geared to screwing us over in a way, but I also don't want to risk not having financial access to medicine when my horses really need it.
                                This is where I am right now. I am a one-horse-at-a-time owner who has been fortunate to not have any claims. But my luck being what it is, I know that as soon as I drop coverage, I will have my first horse catastrophy. I don't insure for full value, more like replacement value, which helps a bit.


                                • Original Poster

                                  "biologic" therapies (stem cells, PRP, IRAP etc), things that would break the bank if we had to pay them out of pocket.
                                  This sort of surprises me in the "horse insurance" world. You have half a dozen largely unproven, non-standardized remedies that are used fairly inconsistently and with no consensus, and many are covered. And yet a simple hock injection, which while also not supported by large clinical trials has at least got the weight of decades of consensus behind it, is not covered!

                                  They would pay "up to $1,000" for PRP if Boscoe had required it for his tendon injury, which he did not. But the diagnostics had a $300 co-pay, plus I paid 30% of everything else . . . I wound up getting an insurance refund of $250 for the >$1000 vet bill related to this (thankfully minor) injury, and that tendon is now excluded. They also made up a fantasy diagnosis of "pedal osteitis" that the horse has never had and this kind of irritated me and was sort of a last straw. They were willing to remove it from the exclusions but I'd had enough. I understand deductibles and copays, but like Reed said, if the illness/injury is not in the "many thousands" range, it's just not worth making a claim at all.

                                  I understand that insurance is like legalized gambling and the actuaries are smart people who stack the odds just enough in their favor for the companies to be solidly profitable. So I'm going to take the odds back into my own hands and earmark a little slush fund for the emergencies, keeping that money in MY bank account instead of theirs. And hoping that the "keeping" part is fact and not fantasy.
                                  Click here before you buy.


                                  • #18
                                    Insurance is two things: risk sharing and risk shifting.

                                    It's also a bet: you're betting something bad will happen to the insured entity (person or property) the company is betting it won't.

                                    Regarding mortality coverage, this is protection against complete loss. The risk of complete loss for most folks is relatively small unless they are engaged in highly athletic disciplines (steeple chasing, eventing, etc.) or putting their horse regularly and frequently at risk of being struck by motor vehicles (police horses, etc.). "Relatively small" does not mean "zero." Barn fires and other disasters happen. If a persons tolerance for this type of loss is low then they should insure the horse for their own peace of mind.

                                    I do get the sense that a LOT of people grossly over value their horses and those people can get a rude surprise with they find out that with standard policies the company is only responsible to pay the "fair market value" for the horse, not the value stated on the declaration page. If they have a "declared value" policy then they get the amount stated but these policies are expensive and have lots of "hoops" that the insured must jump through.

                                    Morbidity coverage is much more likely to be used. It also has lots of conditions that surround its use. Again, for the average horse owner, it will provide some real protections but might also be at least equally a "peace of mind" thing. Since a lot of equine illness and injury is a direct result of husbandry practices the decision to insure or not might be based on the board situation for the horse. If the horse is at home in a proper equine environment and the owner is knowledgeable and conscientious then risk for injury or disease is likely quite low. Boarding at a public stable introduces elements of uncertainty in care. A horse regularly being shown, trail ridden, campaigned, etc. will have higher risk of disease or injury than one never taken outside the fence line. To accurately assess risk the horse and rider must be put into their "real world" context.

                                    For most folks I'm pretty well convinced that if they took the $2000 or so per year that they are paying for insurance and put it into a bank account within five years they would be completely "self insured." Another approach would be to take out a credit card with a reasonable limit (say, $7500) and just keep it as the "equine injury credit card." IMO this not as safe as the bank account method but can work. It's also possible to run a positive balance on a credit card. So you can get the card, put a lower limit on it (say, $5000) and put $50/mo. on the card. In three years you've got a cash cushion for small stuff and a credit line for big stuff. And no dealing with adjusters.

                                    Risk assessment is generally pretty objective, but risk tolerance is very subjective. Each person makes their own call.

                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                    • #19
                                      I have gone back and forth so many times with whether to insure my girls or not (one dressage mare working up the levels and one broodmare). I so often feel that I am giving my money away when I insure them for mortality, major medical, etc. and then I never need it. So here's what I did this year:

                                      My current dressage horse is insured, but I decided to go the route of Mortality only - mainly because if I did loose her, I could afford to replace her at what I paid as a late-yearling, but I couldn't afford to replace here where she is in her training today. However, my mortality insurance covers theft and $5000 towards colic surgery (and a couple other tid bits) for about $800 a year (it depends on the value of the horse). I could have included major medical for another $1500+ a year. But, as many of you point out, if you save that much each year (or at least something), you can often have a good amount set aside for a medical emergency. I really like that my mortality covers $5000 towards colic surgery, that would at least help with that cost.

                                      My broodmare is not insured (although I love and value her the exact same as I do my riding horse)! But it is a purely practicle decision simply based on value, that made me decide not to insure her. At this point, I could afford to replace her tomorrow if something happened. And no insurance plan will make me *feel* any better if I lost her.

                                      For me, I think having mortality on my riding mare and self insuring the rest is a good balance. It gives me some piece of mind, without breaking the bank, so-to-say...

                                      Also helping me decide was when I asked my DH... IF something were to happen to one of the horses and there was a vet bill for X, would we pay it??? His answer was yes... he also agreed that he would rather save the money in our own bank account then give it to someone else.

                                      But sometimes it's Murphy's law... nothing happends when you have the insurance, and our four legged loves find trouble when we don't have it... *sigh*
                                      Piedmont Sporthorses


                                      • #20
                                        Wow, some of the premiums people pay are so much, I can see why you'd question the value...like the previous poster said major medical was $1,500/yr. My major medical was ~$250 or $300/yr in addition to the mortality. Mortality was just 3.7% of value of horse, and I just did the minimum so I rarely paid more than $500/yr per horse in premiums. But again, since some companies are now dropping medical for horses insured for less than $15k mortality, those premiums would have increased considerably to retain medical coverage.