When equine insurance saves the day… *H&H Plus*

  • Your monthly insurance bill may seem like an avoidable drain on resources, until disaster strikes and you find out just how valuable it really is, as these four stories demonstrate...

    “A 50% chance he wouldn’t return to eventing”

    JUSTINE PARKER knew something was wrong with her beloved three-star eventer Alfie by the way he was standing in the field one morning last May.

    Scans revealed the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse had damaged the sheath of the deep digital tendon flexor in his right fore and he was given a 50% chance of returning to eventing.

    “I was devastated as not only do I adore him but it has taken me five years to get him to that level,” says Justine, who is national director of sport at British Showjumping.

    Alfie underwent treatment, which included platelet-rich plasma therapy and a stay at a hydrotherapy spa, and Justine meticulously followed rehab instructions from vet Spike Milligan.

    However, in October it was determined that Alfie wasn’t progressing as desired so he underwent tenoscopy surgery at Newmarket Equine Hospital.

    Justine’s insurance policy with SEIB Insurance Brokers covered all of Alfie’s treatment and included £1,000 cover for alternative therapies, which Justine used for the cold water therapy at the spa and radiofrequency treatment. The excess was £300.

    “These situations are stressful and emotional enough without the worry of whether your insurance is going to cover the best treatment,” says Justine. “I was relieved to have a good insurance provider which was quick to process the surgery pre-authorisation paperwork, pay any invoices and settle the balance at the vets directly.”

    Justine pays £75 per month for her policy, which includes £5,000 for veterinary cover.

    Alfie is currently sound and resulting scans have been positive. Spike is pleased with how the horse’s leg looks and is optimistic Alfie will be able to resume his eventing career this year.

    “He was scrawny with no topline”

    WHEN, as a five-year-old, Foxfolly Jovial Darco, who had previously enjoyed jumping, started stopping at fences, Suzanne Homewood called the vet. Jovi’s insurance policy, which is with KBIS and has incident cover for a 15-month period rather than the standard 12, included £500 for complementary therapies, so he was able to receive physio under sedation.

    “After lots of investigation, the vet and physio believed there were two areas of issue possibly relating to the sacroiliac,” explains Suzanne. “The poll and neck were released under sedation over a period of three months. While this helped, he soon started stopping again, so he was given a cortisone injection into the sacroiliac joint to lubricate.”

    Having the injection allowed Suzanne to concentrate on building up muscle strength around the joint, and a period followed when Jovi enjoyed jumping and won several BE90 competitions.

    However, following a second injection 10 months later, it became apparent that while the injections gave release, the underlying issue was the pain Jovi experienced while jumping, so Suzanne decided to focus on dressage.

    “He’s working at medium level and is so much happier,” Suzanne says. “He was always scrawny in the neck and didn’t have much topline because he couldn’t use his back and neck properly, but he’s now much stronger.”

    Suzanne is full of praise for KBIS, their efficient and helpful team, and the policy that enabled her to have the best combination of treatments for her horse.

    Jovi still has physio every three months but hasn’t needed an injection for nearly two years.

    “I would have had to put Val to sleep”

    EVIE HAYDON’S 10-year-old thoroughbred mare Valentine has been through the wars in recent years. The ex-racehorse underwent colic surgery in 2017 after she experienced displacement of the large intestine, was diagnosed with kissing spine just four months later, and then in 2019 she suffered from a nasty cut on her front leg that required stitches.

    All of Valentine’s treatment and surgeries – her kissing spine diagnosis required the ligament snip operation on five vertebrae – were covered by Evie’s £48 per month level three insurance policy with Petplan Equine. Evie was required to pay the £145 excess.

    “I was so grateful to have insurance as otherwise I would have had to put Val to sleep as I wouldn’t have been able to afford the surgery,” explains Evie, who lost her previous horse Shannon to colic in 2014.

    “At every stage Petplan were helpful, friendly and understanding – I couldn’t fault them,” she adds. “They appreciated it was a stressful time and didn’t pressure me into sending in my forms. I know my vets also have a good relationship with them and they paid any bills promptly.”

    Valentine, who has struggled with lameness since 2017, has now been retired.

    “She’s very sensible and makes a useful field ornament; she’s not bothered that she isn’t ridden and is happy being out in the field. We have a close bond and she is very special to me. She will stay with me for the rest of her life,” adds Evie.

    “He’s already had two traumatic incidents”

    LAST March, while owner Jemma Mills was leading yearling Brackenspa Washington (Boe, pictured, above) around an indoor school, a mirror fell off the wall, causing Boe to spook, rear and fall.

    On initial inspection, the Kinsky Abraham-sired warmblood seemed fine, but an hour later he began acting strangely, lying on the floor in his stable and moving his head in circles.

    The vets diagnosed concussion and monitored him for several days, during which time it was revealed that he had also bruised his liver. He was given medication and returned home with no further issues.

    Eight months later Jemma received a call to say that Boe was bleeding from his mouth in the stable, the result of what was later diagnosed as a cracked lower mandible.

    Surgery ensued, during which time Boe’s jaw was levelled off and wire was inserted around the teeth and gums to hold it in place. After four days Boe returned home and Jemma was instructed to put as little pressure on his head as possible and give him liquid food and soaked hay. One set of X-rays and six weeks later, Boe has been signed off.

    “He’s not even two yet and he’s already had two traumatic incidents,” said Jemma, whose basic annual insurance policy with the Insurance Emporium cost £290.94 a year, has a £150 excess and covers up to £4,500 in vet fees.

    “The whole process of claiming was really easy, I only had to complete the initial form and then they dealt with the vet directly.”


    This exclusive feature is also available in H&H magazine, 18 March 2021 issue

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