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At Bell Equine we strongly recommend some form of insurance for your horse, by taking out an equine insurance policy to help protect you against unforeseen veterinary fees.

A recent Blue Cross Survey showed that up to 40% of horses become ill or injured in any one year and 25% of insured horses have a claim in any one year, so insurance is a good idea, unless you have a contingency plan for any such eventuality. We work with all insurance companies and are always willing to help.

Although we cannot advise on specific companies or policies (we are not allowed to do so under the FSA), we are always happy to offer general advice or help with exclusions and so on. 

Do not hesitate to give us a call on 01622 813700

You can download a guide for Hospital Insurance claims and one for Running your Claim.

▪    VET fees - This covers you for non-routine treatment of your horse or pony following accident or illness. Many problems, such as colic surgery, can become expensive as they often require intensive care and medications post operatively in addition to the surgery and initial emergency consultation. It is advisable to have at least £5,000 cover per incident, but check your policy as some people are caught out with lower vet fee cover. There are other policies that will offer greater cover for a higher premium.

▪     DEATH cover – this is more limited cover than many people realize. It will only pay out if your horse requires euthanasia on humane grounds, for example, after sustaining an irreparably fractured leg. There are very precise guidelines for this, which may involve further diagnostics or a second opinion prior to fulfilling the requirements. It will not cover conditions like a tendon injury or chronic arthritis, where a horse cannot be ridden, but could potter around a paddock. To prove such claims a post-mortem exam and report are usually required which would be at the owner’s expense.

▪    LOSS OF USE cover - This provides a level of reimbursement if your horse or pony is permanently incapable of carrying out its insured activities. For example, if your horse goes lame, recovers enough to be a broodmare or hack, but not enough to return to eventing, then a negotiated settlement will pay out some of its insured value.

▪    THIRD PARTY cover - This is an important aspect of insurance, which protects you from large personal injury claims if your horse causes an accident or injury to a third party.

Not necessarily.  Insurance policies are unlikely to cover all eventualities or conditions. If a horse has had certain problems before the policy is taken out, do not expect these problems to be allowed as a valid claim in the future. Even if you do not claim for a condition, it doesn’t mean it will be covered if it recurs some time later.

Exclusions are conditions which are not covered by your insurance policy. Companies will vary widely with exclusions and ensure you fully understand them prior to agreeing to their terms. In addition, it is advisable that you arrange insurance prior to buying a horse, because even if they ‘pass’ a vetting, exclusions may be placed depending on the certificate findings.

No. For this reason BELL EQUINE will ask for a hospital deposit for any horse admitted to the hospital. Although life-saving veterinary procedures carried out in an emergency should be covered, many cases turn out not to be covered, even when it is thought that they were initially.

For a non-emergency condition the insurer’s consent may be required prior to a procedure being performed e.g. further imaging such as MRI or Scintigraphy. The insurance company may contact BELL as well as their own veterinary adviser, hence it is important to contact your insurance company promptly and preferably prior to any treatment.

No. Conditions are generally covered for only 12 months after the illness / injury first occurred, afterwhich your insurer will most likely exclude it. However, depending on the condition and your insurer, the exclusion may be removed after a period of time.

Not necessarily. If your horse suffers from an illness or injury that you do not claim for initially but at a later date it recurs and you put in a claim, the insurance company may not cover the veterinary fees.

Most equine insurance policies last for 1 year only so if the condition runs on after your annual renewal, it is unlikely that cover for the same problem will continue. A common example is laminitis which was managed with pain relief for several years without any claim. However, if a severe episode of laminitis then occurs which requires radiographs, remedial farriery/shoeing and blood testing, the owner will be unable to claim for these veterinary fees as the condition will be excluded. Insurers will obtain a full veterinary history with every claim and may consult more than one local practice to find out information.

Not usually. It is standard for the cover to be limited to accidental, external injuries for the first 14 days of cover and thus your horse will not be covered for any illness, such as colic, within this period.

The first thing to do is to contact your insurers who will send you a claim form. Do not wait until treatment has finished, as it may be too late to claim by then. Your insurers will usually ask us to fill in a section too. It is important to get the paperwork in to BELL promptly, so we can process it quickly.

We cannot deal with the insurers on your behalf, since you are the policy holder, but we are always happy to help. Some insurers however, have sped this process up by completing your part of the claim form over the phone with you and then emailing the form straight to us.

Please download our guide to running your insurance claim here.

Slowly is often the answer! Some insurers can take a long time to settle our fees and we would like to see this sped up. Please be aware that you will be liable for any excess. Also insurers will take the 5% discount we offer for payment within 14 days of the invoice date as they will assume you, as the insured, will have paid already (perhaps by credit card) to save them money – they will pay the lowest possible amount.

Sometimes it helps when the insurance company offers to pay us directly but please be aware that they may not pay the entire invoice and you will still be liable for the difference.

If you receive further treatment relating to the claim, you will need to forward subsequent invoices to your insurance company yourself; some companies will also ask for a continuation claim form to be completed.

It is worth informing your insurers that you have had the vet out even if it seems like a “one off”. If the condition worsens or reappears months later it may then be too late to claim if you did not notify the insurers at the start.

If the condition improves and you decide not to claim, then a declaration of this perhaps accompanied by a vet report, that we are always willing to provide free of charge, may prevent an exclusion on your policy for the following year.

For further information on equine insurance and claims, please see the BEVA insurance guide for horse owners and veterinary surgeons.

We process your insurance claim forms without any extra charge. To make it simple:
  • As soon as you realise you may need to make claim, please contact your insurance company to inform them, at the same time requesting a claim form. They will be able to let you know if you have any exclusions on your cover that may affect your claim and how much your excess will be.
  • When you receive your claim form (you can often download one from your insurer's website, making sure you down load an equine / horse claim form) complete it fully and send it in to us with your excess payment.
  • The inital treating vet who attended your horse will complete the veterinary surgeon section of the form, then the BELL Equine office will add any associated invoices, clinical notes or reports and send it on to your insurance company on your behalf, copying you in on the emailed documents.
  • Make sure you follow up with any further invoices for additional treatment. Some insurance companies require continuation claim forms to be completed (for example Pet Plan, Scottish Equestrian Insurance Brokers, KBIS, Animal Friends, Stoneways, Insurance Emporium require continuation forms). Other companies just need you to send them further invoices as you receive them (for example NFU, E&L, Horse Insurance.co.uk, SEIB, Carriagehouse).
  • It is your responsibility to pursue your claim and provide any further information to your insurance company.
PLEASE NOTE: Whilst we are happy to accept payment direct from your insurance company, they will usually pay the discounted amount. They take the view that you should minimise the costs by using our discount system that is available for prompt payment.  So it is better to pay us promptly before the early payment discount is lost and get reimbursed by the insurance company. If you think that your treatment might get close to the total vet fees coverable by your insurance company it may be advisable to pay at the time of treatment to take advantage of our 5% prompt payment discount.
If you have any questions on any aspect of insurance, do not hesitate to call our accounts line on 01622 816033 and we will be happy to help.
  • Inception date - the start date of the policy
  • Extension periods - apply to expired policies when cover is extended beyond the expiry date of the policy, normally for 12months from the date of the onset of the condition.
  • Exclusions - noted conditions or risks that are therefore not covered under the policy.
  • Pre-existing conditions - conditions that manifest before the inception date and are therefore not covered by the insurance.
  • Underwriter or the insurer - a Lloyd's syndicate, insurance company or mutual insurer who accepts the risk that the insurance policy covers in return for payment of the premium. The insurer sets the rates and determines the terms and conditions of the policy. The buck stops with the Underwriter or insurer for decisions relating to provision of cover.
  • Insurance agent - an intermediary who has a contract to sell and administer policies on behalf of the Underwriter.
  • Insurance broker - an intermediary who acts on behalf of the client. May also have a contract to sell and administer policies on behalf of an Underwriter.
  • The Financial Services Authority (FSA) - regulates the general insurance industry and authorises individual companies allowing them to sell insurance products. You can check on the registration of a company by visiting the FSA's website or by contacting the FSA.
  • Financial Ombudsmen Service - the organisation which handles complaints by policy holders against insurance providers.
  • Co-Insurance - an arrangement by which the insurer and the insured share, in a specified ratio, payment for losses covered by the policy after the excess has been paid. Sometimes referred to as a co-payment.
  • Accidental visible external and violent injury only - cover where the insured can only claim for open surface injuries as a result of an accident.