Horses, like people, are living longer and continuing to enjoy active lives well into their later years, thanks to better nutrition and veterinary research. However, insurance has often been a problem for owners of veteran horses as most policies offer only limited cover for horses over the age of 16.

There are several key issues involved when insuring older horses:

  • Veterinary cover — veteran horse policies usually only cover external injury and not illness
  • Buying an older horse — only veteran insurance is available to new horses over the age of 16 so if you buy a horse in its late teens you may not be able to insure it for illness
  • Keeping a horse as it ages — insured horses are normally moved onto veteran cover by the age of 20
  • Welfare — owners faced with the prospect of large vets fees may be unwilling to call out a vet if they suspect their older horse is unwell

Founder of the Veteran Horse Society (VHS), Julianne Aston, says: “Since the VHS started six years ago we have found that vets fees are the greatest concern to our rapidly growing membership — until now, you haven’t been able to insure for illness in older horses”, she explains. “This has meant that fewer people are willing to take on the care of an older horse as they do not have the security of insurance to protect them from unexpected veterinary costs.”

However, one of the UK’s leading equine insurance companies, Petplan Equine, has launched an extension to its existing Activity Plan policy that now entitles horses insured before their 20th birthday to illness and injury cover until they reach 25 years of age. The policy is fully endorsed by the VHS, who organise events for veteran horses around the UK.

Petplan Equine Brand Manager, Jo Whittaker, says: “After consulting the VHS we realised that cover for vet fees was a huge issue and insurance policies were not providing the necessary support. Owners of horses insured with this new policy will now be able to contact the vet in the event of suspected illness without financial worry.”

One of the UK’s most famous equine veterans is Jeanette Brakewell’s Olympic partner Over To You or Jack as he is known at home (pictured above), who retired from three-day-eventing after completing Badminton for the seventh time in May this year at the age of 19.

Having owned the horse herself for the past two years, Jeanette had not insured him as she could not find satisfactory cover because he was over 15. “Jack remains fit and well and continues to compete,” explains Jeanette. “I had looked at all the insurance policies available but none would cover him so I am delighted that Petplan Equine has come up with this new solution.”

Jack is now fully insured and Jeanette has the security of knowing that Petplan Equine are there to help cover the cost of unexpected vet bills for the horse who helped her to win team silver medals for Great Britain in two Olympic Games.

To find out more about the new Petplan Equine cover available for older horses visit: www.petplanequine.co.uk or (tel:0800 980 3905).

To find out more about the Veteran Horse Society visit: www.veteran-horse-society.co.uk or (tel: 0870 242 6653).

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