We all love our horses very much and want to be able to keep them happy and healthy for many years to come. No matter how hard we try though, they still manage to find new and improved ways to hurt themselves.

Lameness can be a way of life for some. Others are just accident-prone or intent on finding that one plant in the field that will make them sick. Since we can’t wrap them in bubble wrap or keep them in padded stalls 24/7, we need to be able to deal with those injuries, illnesses and accidents that inevitably face every horse owner.

Equine insurance isn’t a glamorous topic. We sometimes think of it as a necessary evil or perhaps something we can’t afford. No one likes to believe their horse will colic or need surgery, so owners often roll the dice and play the odds.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot like gambling at a casino. The odds are against you and will always favor “the house”. Equine insurance can shift those odds significantly. I know, because I work for an insurance company that sells equine insurance.

Moreover, I work in the claims department, where we see just about everything that can happen to a horse. We also see what the financial impact can be for owners who elect NOT to purchase insurance.

Medical costs are on the rise, and a typical colic surgery can cost in the neighborhood of $5000 to $7000. There are many factors that will affect that total, including how long the horse was treated medically and if there were any complications after surgery.

Even when the injury to your horse is not life-threatening, veterinary treatment can set an owner back quite a bit of money. If you are the type of person who maintains a “fund” for your horse to cover these types of expenses, then equine insurance may not be for you. However if you are like most of us, you may be faced with decisions you don’t want to make…or a significant debt you will have to pay over time. Equine insurance may be the answer.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not terribly expensive. Depending upon the limit of coverage you purchase, the cost can be very affordable. For major medical/surgical insurance, costs are about $266 per year for a $5000 limit of coverage, about $329 for $8000 in coverage and for a $10,000 limit, the cost is about $371.

Each of these policies would have a $375 deductible. Insurance can be provided to cover horses that are between 91 days old and 15 yrs old (although under certain circumstances, coverage can be provided for foals over 24 hours old and for horses that are 16, 17 and 18 years old). For a premium of $300 or $400, the horse owner can have piece of mind.

Mortality is also a coverage to consider. If your horse dies from a covered accident, injury or illness, mortality coverage will pay you for that loss. It will never replace your horse in your heart, but it can help you find a new one. Insurance is designed to make you whole after a loss. Without mortality insurance, you could be left without funds to buy a new horse.

You can purchase mortality coverage based on your horse’s value. Typically the cost runs about 3.5% of the insured value, so if you have a $10,000 horse, the premium would be about $350. There is no deductible on most mortality policies. The age range for this coverage is also typically 91 days to 15 years, but like the major medical/surgical coverage, under the right circumstances coverage can be written on foals over 24 hours and on horses that are 16, 17 and 18 years of age.

A very important and often overlooked coverage is liability. This covers a horse owner for property damage or bodily

injury to others, caused by the owner’s horse. For those of you who show your horse, consider the scenario where your horse gets loose at a show grounds and either injures a spectator or runs into someone else’s car/trailer and damages it.

If you board your horse at someone else’s farm, a visitor may be bitten by your horse, or injured more seriously. The cost of adding this coverage is also minimal. For $300,000 in coverage, the cost is around $58; for $1 million in coverage, the cost is about $85….fairly insignificant if you consider what human health care costs are…or the cost of defending a lawsuit brought against you.

While I realize the state of the economy has challenged all of us in different ways, insurance is one thing that can help protect you against unexpected financial losses involving your horse.