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Question about full mortality equine insurance

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  • Question about full mortality equine insurance

    This question has been on my mind for a while since I recently purchased full mortality and major medical for my newish horse.

    My first horse colicked terribly at a horse show and was taken to a clinic about 45 minutes away to have surgery. As a re-rider and first time horse owner I was quite in the dark, and had not gotten insurance on the horse. I only had him one year. He was a 10 year old TB, quite green, and quite a nervous guy. We were not serious competitors and I was just re-entering the horse world. He was operated on (tortion colic) but the next day his vitals were declining rapidly. We made the decision to let him go. The vets said they could put 150% into saving him and he may survive, but there was no way I could afford more then the already $8,000 bill. All of that money came out of my pocket, actually had to sell all of my company stock to pay for it. Looking back I may have made the choice to put him down even before surgery, he was so far gone already and had been colicking longer than we had known. He had been tubed earlier in the day though and deemed "fine" by my then vet. At the end of the day I left the showgrounds and an hour or so later I got a call from a trainer who told me he had kicked his entire stall down and was violently throwing himself to the ground. I guess you don't really know what to do until it actually happens, and then you have to make a rapid decision. No one wanted to tell me to put him down at the showgrounds but..

    Anyway, if I had had (motality and major medical) insurance at the time, would the horse's value be compensated, even though we made the decision to put him down?

  • #2
    That question is related to mortality, not major medical, and can best be answered by the company that is insuring your horse. Definitely call and ASK ... they shouldn't think you're planning anything awful since your question is completely legitimate and you deserve to know what you are paying for.

    Haivng said that, I suspect that the decision to cover mortality would be made based on a discussion the vet would have with the claims person, possibly before the decision to destroy is actually made, if possible.

    However, if your horse is going under anesthesia for any procedure, be sure that the insurance company knows before-hand, since sometimes horses don't recover from it, or injure themselves coming out of it.

    Mine had to be put down due to an injury she sustained coming out of anesthesia for an extensive colic surgery. The insurance company reimbursed for the covered medical expenses and full mortality, but the vet handled all the conversations and details for me.

    I am so sorry for your loss.


    • #3
      I think it really varies by company, and also depends a lot on the way the vet words your report. I'd guess in that situation if he was colicking that severely and had been for a while, then yes, colic surgery would be very risky and probably not successful, and the decision to euthanize would be the most humane one. I don't think an insurance agent would argue with you, especially if the medical reasoning was well-documented by your vet. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I'm really sorry you had to go through that.

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      • Original Poster

        AllWeatherGal and Starhouse, thank you for your insightful replies. I will definitely talk to my insurance company about the 'what ifs' - hopefully I won't have to go through it again but you never know. My vet at the time was pretty much speechless when he had to come out a second time to see my horse colicking that bad and he was not able to really give me any advice (he is no longer my vet). But I suppose the vets at the clinic could see that he was far gone after it took 4 people to steady him for surgery prep. That day and all of the decisions we had to make on the spot were such a blur. I did have a sick feeling in my stomach that he would not make it, just knowing his sensitive nature.
        I am very sorry for your loss too AWG.

        Also, Starhouse, I have to say I really enjoy keeping up with you and Lucy on your blog. I know it's been a challenging season and I wish you all the best with her; I think you've done a great job.


        • #5
          The short answer is yes, mortality pays the policy limits if you are forced to euthanize. It would not matter if that decision was before or after surgery covered by your major medical endorsement. The key will be the conversation between the vet and the claims person regarding the horse. I've found that claims people are quite reasonable and understand the issues horses have. Ideally this conversation would occur BEFORE the fact, but the call can occur after the fact as well. Sometimes you just don't have time to talk to the carrier.

          Vets who do colic surgery are pretty familiar with what has to be done with insurance claims.

          Of course there are little details like showing that you actually did pay $X for your horse, but the veterinary aspect is not going to be a problem.

          I'm sorry you had to go through this. My sister had a similar experience with a horse she owned. When her husband was laid off, she dropped her coverage. Sure enough the horse colicked, that surgery, and then had to be euthanized. It took her 3 years to pay it off. She liquidated assets, sold her tack, etc. It was tough.
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          • #6
            The insurance usually has a 24 hour number that you (or trainer, or vet) would be able to call. When my mare colicked and was bad enough to haul to a clinic, I called my insurance emergency # to let them know, and this was in the middle of the night. Then when the vet recommended surgery in the wee hours of the next morning, I called again, and I think the insurance spoke to the vet as well, to ok us to go ahead. Had they determined upon opening her up that things were too bad, the vet would have requested permission to euthanize. Most insurance policies do say you have to do what is reasonable to save the horse...I couldn't have ignored the vet advice to do surgery, had horse put down (w/o telling insurance), and expected mortality payment. But had the horse been so bad that vet recommended euthanasia when we arrived at the clinic, insurance would probably have ok'd it. Having not dealt with that specific situation, I'm not sure a phone call would suffice, or insurance would want something in writing from the vet as well (fax?).


            • #7
              yes, MAKE SURE the vets call the insurance co before euthanizing when ever possible. This is very important.

              Also, my company REQUIRED a necropsy (and lots of paperwork) before releasing the mortality payment.

              Based on the extra stress it caused during my horses' death I'd almost rather forefit the money.

              I am seriously considering changing companies (see my other thread).


              • #8
                Be sure the company is contacted before any solid decisions are made, if possible. Let the vet handle those calls. My vet and insurance carrier have a very good relationship and made everything as easy as possible.

                You do not always need a necropsy, depending on the cause of the euth. Mine had oral cancer and all that was required was a picture of him before and after euthanasia. My vet handled that as well and sent them the pictures. I received the cheque and a sympathy card within a week.


                PS...if you go on vacation, be sure to leave written instructions with your BO as to how to handle the insurance company details if the worst happens while you're gone. I've heard of the insurance not being contacted and no money being paid out on the claim because of it.
                Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Whistler View Post
                  AllWeatherGal and Starhouse, thank you for your insightful replies. I will definitely talk to my insurance company about the 'what ifs' - hopefully I won't have to go through it again but you never know. My vet at the time was pretty much speechless when he had to come out a second time to see my horse colicking that bad and he was not able to really give me any advice (he is no longer my vet). But I suppose the vets at the clinic could see that he was far gone after it took 4 people to steady him for surgery prep. That day and all of the decisions we had to make on the spot were such a blur. I did have a sick feeling in my stomach that he would not make it, just knowing his sensitive nature.
                  I am very sorry for your loss too AWG.

                  Also, Starhouse, I have to say I really enjoy keeping up with you and Lucy on your blog. I know it's been a challenging season and I wish you all the best with her; I think you've done a great job.
                  That sounds extremely stressful - in that situation, I'd want to look to my vet for advise and expertise and rely on what he/she had to say, not see a dumbfounded look and hear that they have no idea how that could happen!

                  And thanks yes she is a nutter but I do love her. I have MM/M insurance on her primarily for colic surgery, but truthfully if it came to that I would absolutely evaluate the circumstances before actually putting her through the surgery. There are so many risks and when the horse is already heavily compromised, especially if the colic has been progressing for a while, I would really have to think about it. I hope in that situation my vet would be able to guide me. I am glad you switched vets. Best of luck with your new horse. I think for the cost, insurance is good to have just to maintain your peace of mind, even if you don't end up using it to its full extent. I recently put a claim in on Lucy when she got loose and needed to have a gazillion xrays to make sure she hadn't broken herself, and I found out how much the insurance was going to pay yesterday. It totaled less than 1/3 of the original bill after they ruled out my copay, deductible, farm call, etc. I was a bit disgusted to be honest. After that experience, I am very scared of what a colic surgery would cost me even WITH MM up to $10000. I guess I should have gotten a goldfish

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