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Point 8

This is a very important factor to consider. We have in the 'getting started' section of our website discussed the importance of declaring known issues and problems affecting your horse when you take out your policy.

We feel it is important that you are aware of how these declared issues are expressed in the policy. If an insurance company feels it is not happy to insure a particular problem because it pre-existed the start of your insurance cover they will normally put an exclusion for that problem on your policy. This may for example be very specific e.g. not being covered on the left fore for further tendon injury because you have declared a previous tendon injury on that leg. This exclusion would mean you are covered for tendon injuries on the other three legs and for other conditions that might affect the left fore that do not involve the tendons.

The exclusion may not be specific at all so that you declare a problem with your left fore tendon and the exclusion applied by the company goes along the lines of - not covered against tendon injuries and may even say no insurance cover on the left fore. This broad exclusion unfortunately is common. We don't need to explain that the first example is a fair exclusion the latter not as much. We have discussed such issues with companies to no avail. You as the consumer must decide having discussed these matters with your prospective insurers whether you are happy with their response.

Remember exclusions will usually be applied after a claim has been submitted for obvious reasons, this is expected and fair. How your insurance company applies that exclusion is of course important. Whilst we accept each case must be taken on its merits blanket exclusions are common and as a result often leave you with little genuine cover. You must decide what is acceptable for the premium you are paying.

Check if exclusions are time limited or if they may be lifted in the years to come if there is no recurrence and a veterinary report confirms a full recovery, - it's worth asking. - please read point 9 since this is relevant to point 8 too.

Point 9

This is one of my soap box issues.

Firstly colic is a symptom – not a condition, it is the horse's way of expressing abdominal pain.

Secondly – most if not all insurance companies will exclude further cover for a symptom i.e. colic once a horse has shown signs of this symptom before.

Thirdly whilst some companies will blanket exclude one limb or one condition like tendon injuries from further cover they rarely if ever exclude the symptom of lameness with all it's possible causes yet when it comes to colic, a symptom, they exclude it; in the main across the board.

Ok have I made my point!

Let me give an analogy – you go to your doctor with abdominal pain and you have private medical insurance – following diagnosis you have your gall bladder out under the terms of your policy and hopefully recover uneventfully. Your insurance premium may alter slightly but should you suffer from a liver problem, gastric ulcers, kidney stones or any other multitude of problems that cause abdominal pain you would still be covered by your insurance. This is because these conditions are specific diagnoses and exclusion is based upon diagnosis not upon symptoms.

Most horses will at some point in their lives suffer from abdominal pain that is of no consequence to the long term health or well being of that animal. They over-eat lush grass or get into a feed bin or react slightly to a particular wormer or change of diet, all of which lead to transitory abdominal pain – colic; most of which self resolve or settle with minor intervention from the vet. Occasionally the symptom is an indication of something more serious like a twisted gut that may require surgery but in most cases this is not the case. It may indicate problems with something else altogether like the liver or kidneys.

Why then do insurance companies get away time and again with excluding horses from cover on the evidence of a symptom often on one occasion at some point in the dim and distant past. I raise this point because with the frequent request for medical histories when claims are submitted, one off bouts of colic are often picked up resulting in a letter outlining why your policy no longer includes cover for colic.

I have discussed this with a few companies in the past and have been given the usual rehearsed answers –

  1. 'they're more prone to get it again if they've had it once' - It's a symptom so what are they exactly more prone to getting again.

  2. 'the client didn't declare that there horse has had colic in the past,' - quote some clause about non disclosure so they're no longer covered – I would argue that the companies themselves do not in any way encourage people to be honest with them because when Mrs X say oh yes my horse had a bout of colic six years ago they immediately smack on an exclusion.

  3. Asked why they exclude on a symptom – 'we never exclude based on a symptom' oh unless its colic I hear you all say.

I am not prepared to discuss the particular companies involved but feel you should as horse owners be shouting from the roof tops until insurance companies start to look at this in a little bit more of an even-handed way. Some companies are now beginning to review their policy and will remove exclusions for colic if discussed with the owner and vets but you often have to chase this matter. Get to grips with this at the start of your policy if at all possible, remember we would always suggest you are straight with your insurers but we feel they need to play fair over this matter.

Point 10

This is relevant only in that a number of companies trade under different names but have the same underwriters or are all part of the same organisation – if you are not sure who is behind the company you are talking to then ask them.


Check with your chosen company what if any conditions they automatically exclude. It is quite common to find that you are not covered for gelding and any complication thereof. Foaling can be a difficult issue with the mare being covered but not the foal and sometimes there is no cover for complication from foaling. Check with your company. Insurance companies will often exclude congenital problems and hereditary conditions though sometimes you may not be aware of a hereditary problem for years. Find out what your company's policy is on such issues.   

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