Q: MY insurance is supposed to cover recovery of vehicle, trailer and transport of horses. When we broke down and it was put to the test there was a dismal lack of horse transport. It was even suggested that the horses went in the trailer on the back of a flatbed lorry — totally unacceptable. What is the point of this insurance if it fails to deliver? All I can say with regards to breakdown cover is “buyer beware”.
YOU obviously did the right thing in taking out insurance for recovery of your vehicle and trailer, and the transport of the horses on board. Many people are unwittingly not fully covered by standard breakdown cover when towing horses — while recovery of the towing vehicle and the trailer may be provided, transportation of the horses often requires a policy add-on.
It is important to check the wording of any recovery policy in reference to the transport used for recovery. While some insurers provide transport to overnight accommodation, you may find restrictions on the distance of a “free” tow, a limit on the cost of recovery or specifications about carrying a spare wheel.
It is important that your insurance cover (or breakdown membership) is with a company with extensive equestrian knowledge — while travelling horses inside a trailer on the back of a flatbed lorry is clearly unsafe, many insurers do offer this option to save recovery time, and it is possible that the person you spoke to was not an equine expert.
“We wouldn’t recommend that a horse is transported on a trailer on the back of a flatbed lorry, as there would be too much risk of an accident,” said Jeremy Lawton of Shearwater Insurance Services.
“The insurers we use offer options to the client and, in most instances, would provide a horsebox to take the horse to its destination, or alternatively, they would find another vehicle to tow the client’s trailer.”
Shearwater offers breakdown cover in the UK, including emergency road assistance, long distance recovery and home-breakdown for trailer owners. South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) also offers vehicle insurance and breakdown cover.
“Peace of mind is important when travelling horses,” said Nicky MacKenzie, spokesperson for SEIB.
“We would always advise people travelling horses to obtain specialist breakdown insurance. As an example, our specialist cover means that if the horsebox cannot be repaired at the scene, you and your horses will get home safely; a professional horse transporter will collect your horses and a suitable motor transporter will return your horsebox.”
Managing director of the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners (OHTO), Jon Phillips, added that membership to a dedicated rescue scheme can also give peace of mind.
Shearwater Insurance Tel: 08700 767666 www.shearwater-insurance.co.uk
OHTO Tel: 01488 657651 www.horsebox-rescue.co.uk
SEIB Tel: 08454 500638 www.seib.co.uk
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (5 June, ’08)