Horse insurance policy offering lifelong cover among new innovations

  • Lifetime policies, investing in the sport’s social licence and an overhaul of the industry are initiatives being introduced or proposed for equine insurance.

    This type of cover has always had its issues, including the high percentage of claims compared to other insurance, and exclusions after certain claims, but changes are being made and planned.

    Agria has become the first insurer to offer lifetime policies for horses, which it already had for domestic pets, and which offers up to £10,000 for vets’ fees every year, and no exclusions for injuries or conditions, as long as they did not exist when the policy was taken out.

    Agria Equine CEO Vicki Wentworth told H&H: “It’s about the long-term health and welfare of the horse. Rather than insuring the owner, the policy can move with the horse. You can insure a foal from 30 days old for the whole of its life.”

    Ms Wentworth added that she is a rider and horse owner, and has been “on the wrong side of insurance policies”.

    “It’s awful really when you pay so much, but when you really need it, no one’s willing to fork out,” she said. “Especially with competition horses; they do get ulcers and go lame, and if you’ve claimed for ulcers when a horse was seven, you can’t claim if it needs treatment again when it’s eight. Then it might need surgery when it’s 12. We’re trying to keep horses healthy in the long-term, and this policy is utterly amazing.”

    Ms Wentworth said premiums vary as with all policies, so a two-star eventer’s cover will cost more than that of a pleasure horse, for example. The policy will be renewed every year, at which point the owner can adjust the horse’s value if necessary, and payment can be made annually or monthly.

    “The whole point is that if you insure your horse from 30 days old, everything you ever need is paid for. As an equestrian, this was something I felt strongly about, and I’m so chuffed we can offer it.”

    South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) has been supporting the equestrian industry’s social licence to operate – essentially public approval of involving horses in sport, which is vital for the industry’s future. The broker won the marketing and consumer engagement category at the UK Broker Awards last month, in recognition of this work.

    “In achieving this national win, SEIB has highlighted its commitment and ability to support the industries in which the company operates,” a spokesman for the broker said. “As key players in the equestrian insurance market, the team at SEIB go out of their way to highlight and address issues affecting their industry.”

    The company was approached early this year regarding sponsorship of a webinar on social licence.

    “As, over time, the internet and social media have opened up snapshots of equestrian life to a far wider audience, we want to highlight the positives of the partnership between horses and humans to counter what is sometimes only a lack of knowledge of those that are not involved with horses or the sport of horse riding,” said SEIB marketing manager Nicolina MacKenzie.

    “At SEIB, we have subsequently been working to provide support to [The Showing Council chair and webinar host] Jane Nixon and industry leaders, including World Horse Welfare CEO Roly Owers, on this most pressing of issues. We are delighted at SEIB to be rewarded with this national award as recognition.”

    Ms MacKenzie told H&H: “We are delighted to be in a position to support open dialogue about an issue that is just so crucial to the future of our industry. At SEIB we take pride in supporting and giving something back to the causes and issues that are important to our customers.”

    Laura Upton, principal of Brookhurst Risk Solutions, told H&H the broker has seen an increase of clients taking catastrophe cover to protect their horses but at a lower price.

    “Horse insurance is a tricky subject, I think horse insurance needs a major overhaul in the UK,” she said. “It’s different to what’s offered in other countries; the biggest problem is that it’s hard for insurers to make a profit, so there are only a handful of insurers willing to underwrite the leisure horse and this has meant prices increase.

    “I’d like to see a system that rewards people for not claiming, but doesn’t necessarily mean exclusions. It has to be in a way that protects insurers too, so they can keep offering the cover, but horse insurance is a difficult line, because we all know horses!”

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