As rumours about how the crisis will impact on equine insurance claims circulate online, H&H asks a number of insurance professionals for their expert assessment of the situation...
Equestrians are encouraged to talk to their insurers and avoid listening to hearsay during the coronavirus pandemic.
As rumours spread online, insurers have assured clients they will consider cases carefully – and that they are there for guidance and advice, including on how premiums could be reduced.
A spokesman for SEIB Insurance Brokers told H&H communication is key in these unprecedented circumstances.
“Talk to your insurer and keep them informed of any relevant changes to circumstances at every stage,” she said. “SEIB is continuing to service our clients and is in constant communication with our insurers.”
Clients have raised questions such as to whether the 12-month window in which to claim could be extended while vets and those providing alternative therapy are unable to carry out routine work.
“All our insurers have advised they will look at claims on an individual basis. If a client is concerned, they should contact SEIB and let us know how their horse’s treatment or recovery has been adversely affected and SEIB can then put it to the insurers to consider,” the spokesman said.
She added that to remain covered, policyholders must abide by government and local authority advice, and it is important people speak to their insurers rather than listening to rumour.
“These are uncertain times and fearmongers often take advantage, so don’t let them,” she said. “Talk to your provider and ask them about where you stand with your insurance.”
The spokesman added that claims for flu or tetanus treatment would not be rejected if it was not reasonable for vaccinations to be given, as is currently the case. SEIB is also inviting clients to get in touch and can reduce horses’ cover – such as to exclude competing – and so decrease premium cost.
“It is definitely worth speaking to your insurer to discover if there is a way to reduce overheads in these difficult times,” she said, adding that it is unlikely refunds will be considered if there has been any claim during the current period of insurance.
Will Wenyon, co-founder of Peliwica Insurance, agreed that dropping cover and premiums is simple, and that this can be increased again when needed.
He told H&H that his company too will look at each case individually in terms of the indemnity period, so if a horse becomes slightly lame but does not warrant a vet visit now, for an injury that may be the subject of a claim in future, the 12 months in which to claim will not necessarily apply from the date the signs were first noticed, as is standard. The same consideration will apply if an owner were nearing the end of the 12 months and still claiming for rehab.
“We always treat each policy and claim individually, and if it’s in the interest of treating customers fairly, we’ll extend it,” he said. “This is an act of God and couldn’t be predicted, but I feel insurers should take a sympathetic approach as everyone’s in this position.”
Mr Wenyon added that it would be in breach of contract for an insurer to refuse to pay a claim for an issue caused by a horse’s being ridden when the rider had been advised against it by authorities. He also said lack of vaccination would not prevent riders claiming for related treatment.
“We’re there to look after the customer and the horse; that’s our job,” he said.
Laura Upton, principal of Brookhurst Risk Solutions brokers, pointed out other issues that had been raised by her clients.
She said horses bought from videos, or whose sale was secured before the lockdown, could be insured with a full vet history in lieu of a vetting, with some cover of more expensive horses subject to X-rays when possible.
She told H&H she had also been approached by some clients about cancelling horsebox cover but advised strongly against this, and not only because the lorry might be needed to transport a horse for emergency vet treatment.
“Lorry insurance is subject to short price rates, like car cover, so you probably wouldn’t get the pro rata amount back, and it would be subject to cancellation fees,” she said. “And also, if it was stolen or vandalised, or caught fire, you wouldn’t be covered.
“People aren’t renewing breakdown cover, because they won’t need it till they’re back out, but there’s no point cancelling that mid-policy as it will not be refunded.”
Mrs Upton said some riding school clients had been asking about liability cover.
“Employers’ liability is a legal requirement and you still need it even if your staff are furloughed,” she said. “And you’ll still need the public liability in case, for example, a horse gets out on a road and causes an accident. Livery yards and centres that look after horses will also need the care, custody and control element if they’re looking after clients’ horses.”
Lucy Katan, executive director of the British Grooms Association, had a final word on the subject for grooms.
“Now, more than ever, it is critical for those working in the industry to have, and retain, their personal accident insurance policy,” she told H&H. “With fresh horses and a change of routine, accidents in the workplace are a real concern, and we strongly advise grooms to protect their income.”
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