New York State Horse Council ...NYSHC

Quick Guide to Major Medical from The Saren Group

Horses are valuable to us both financially and emotionally. As all horse owners know, horses are fragile and seem to injure themselves or get sick easily. Having a plan in place can make coping with an injury or sickness more manageable. Investing in an equine medical insurance policy is a way of easing the burden of hefty vet bills while also providing emotional support knowing you can provide the best care for your equine partner during times of need.

Most insurance companies require you to have a mortality policy if you want major medical coverage. For major medical policies, the value of your horse must be equal to or greater than the major medical coverage desired. For example, if you want to have $7,500 in annual major medical coverage your horse needs to be valued at $7,500 or more. Some owners who have a higher valued horse only insure the horse for the minimum mortality coverage required to qualify for major medical coverage. This can help keep costs low while still having major medical coverage. Each company has different requirements, so it is always best to work with a broker who can explain all of the options to you.

What does Major Medical Cover?

The major medical coverage varies from company to company. Based on the companies we work with, coverage includes; emergencies, diagnostics including bloodwork, nerve blocks, x-rays ultrasound, MRI and bone scan.Medications and hospitalization related to diagnostic tests are often covered. Lameness treatment methods including shockwave, IRAP (interleukin receptor antagonist protein), PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), Tildren and stem-cell. Medical and surgical colic are also covered. Gastric ulcers and treatment for neurological disorders such as EPM, West Nile or EVH-1 are covered. Treatment for viral/bacterial illness including Lyme is covered which is especially important with the continuing rise of ticks in our area.

These coverages have a limit as to how much the insurance company will pay per claim and policy duration. It is important to first always call your vet when an illness or injury occurs and then promptly notify your insuring company.

The biggest trend we are starting to see in regards to major medical coverage costs is the addition of a co-pay (typically a percent) in conjunction with a deductible for each claim. We are seeing companies require anywhere between a 20% copay up to a 40% copay for each claim. A good broker will help explain and navigate the best option for you.

Other Medical Coverage Options

There are other medical coverage options that are available to horse owners if full major medical coverage is not wanted or the value of the horse does not meet the requirements for major medical coverage. Each insuring company will differ in these coverage options and oftentimes the same type of coverage will be called something different between companies. The two most common options are medical assistance coverage and surgical coverage. Medical assistance is a perfect option for someone who wants coverage but is budget-conscious or doesn't have a desire for full major medical coverage. Medical assistance is similar to major medical with lower coverage limits. Another coverage option is what is commonly referred to as surgical. Surgical coverage applies when a horse requires surgery under anesthesia for an injury. This option is useful to help offset the high cost of equine surgery and is popular for young horses who seem to be more prone to physical injuries. Equine medical insurance can get confusing and each company sets their own limits and specific coverage. It is always best to work with a broker who will take the time to explain the choices you have and also have the expertise to match your needs with the company that is the best match.

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