Should I insure my horse for vet fees?

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Deciding whether or not to take out horse insurance is a very personal decision and there are many factors that should be taken into consideration. Typically, the reason most horse owners insure is for vet fee cover. Understanding how insurance works and why it is a benefit is key in helping you to make this decision, as is being aware of the different types of cover available. Here, we bring you all this information to help you feel confident in deciding whether to take out vet fee insurance for your horse, and if you choose to, how to find the level of cover that’s right for you and your horse.

How does vet fee insurance work?

  • It covers unforeseen incidents, illnesses and injuries that may occur to your horse (with the exact cover being specified on your certificate). Remember, insurance will not cover any pre-existing conditions as the risk of the same issue reoccurring is higher than a non-existing condition occurring. If the Underwriters were happy to take on pre-existing conditions the cost of insurance would be significantly higher to enable them to cover the higher cost of claims made.
  • Your premium goes into a ‘pool’, and it is this ‘pool’ that money is drawn from when claims are paid. Underwriter’s job is to set the premiums at a sufficient level to keep enough money in the ‘pool’ to be able to pay all the claims.

What are the benefits of vet fee insurance?

Financial protection

By insuring your horse you have financial protection should he become ill or be injured (as the cover on your certificate specifies). This means that you can treat your horse for the conditions or illnesses they have suffered without significantly affecting your own financial position.

It enables you to feel less restricted by the cost of diagnostics and treatment

You can access expensive diagnostics tools and potentially lifesaving treatments which you may not have otherwise been able to afford, meaning you are not having to make a difficult decision between your horse and your bank balance.

Peace of mind

Having horses is not about stressing about what we might do if something goes wrong. Whilst insurance can’t stop you worrying completely, knowing you have appropriate vet fee cover to diagnose and treat your horse if things don’t quite go to plan can help you to relax and enjoy, that’s what it all about.

Where to start with insuring your horse for vet fees…

If you are considering taking out horse insurance, it can be difficult to know where to start. These are some things to think about before contacting providers for a quote:

  • Consider your own perception of risk. You might not be too worried about having cover for a wide range of problems and instead, colic surgery may be your biggest worry. In which case, it may feel more appropriate to choose a more limited vet fee option that includes a higher limit for this specifically. Alternatively, breadth of cover may be important, so you are able to make a claim for anything new that your horse suffers from and therefore choosing a level of cover that includes accident, sickness and disease is essential.
  • Weigh up how likely you believe your horse is to suffer from illness or injury. Whilst no one has a crystal ball to know what the future holds, you might think your hardy cob is less likely to become ill or injured than your stressy thoroughbred.
  • Be realistic about any pre-existing conditions your horse may have. If your horse has had issues previously, these will be excluded from your insurance policy and therefore, if there have been several of these, having the most comprehensive vet fee insurance might not make the most sense. It may be more cost-effective to have a more limited level of insurance, such as Catastrophe Cover, to keep the premium lower and mean you can keep a separate pot of money to one side for reoccurring problems that will not be covered by the policy.
  • It’s also important to think about the treatment you would want to put your horse through if needed. For example, putting your older, retired horse through surgery may not feel appropriate, but you may feel it is essential for your 8-year-old all-rounder. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your vet around how much certain diagnostics and treatments would cost to give an idea of how quickly vet fees can add up and therefore which limit of cover might be most suited to your horse.

What vet fee cover is available?

With such a range of vet fee options, it can be tricky to decide which is right for you and your horse. Here are three things to think about in order to find the option that is best suited to you both:

What does it cover?

Vet fee cover on horse insurance policies falls mainly into two types: limited cover for accidental external injuries only and comprehensive cover for accidents, sicknesses, and disease. The former is considerably cheaper, as the risk to Underwriters is lower due to claims only being paid for vet bills that are a result of a cut, graze, or physical break to the skin. Cover for accidents, sicknesses, and diseases costs more as it provides a greater breadth of cover, meaning this is a higher risk to the Underwriters.

More comprehensive options can include benefits such as cover for complementary treatments (e.g. physiotherapy when recommended by your vet) and hospitalisation costs should your horse need to stay overnight at the vets.

Whilst there are a couple of vet fee types that don’t fit the mold, it’s important to be clear on exactly what the option you have chosen includes so there are no nasty surprises when it comes to making a claim.

How much cover?

Another thing to be clear on when choosing vet fee cover, is whether the limit provided is an incident limit i.e. you have that amount to spend each incident (when your horse displays new symptoms) or an annual limit, where you can have one large claim of the total amount or a number of smaller claims that add up to that within the year. Annual limits tend to be cheaper as the total amount you can claim with the year is capped, whereas having an incident limit means this can add up to a larger amount if your horse is unlucky enough to have multiple separate incidents within the year.

What’s the excess?

You also have a choice of different excess amounts. Choosing a lower excess will mean you have to pay less in the event of a claim. The advantage of this is that you are able to claim for smaller amounts, but it does mean your premium will be higher. Higher excess options will bring down your premium, but it does mean you would have more to pay in the event of a claim. Opting for a higher excess is a popular choice to ensure you are getting the most cover for your money but consider whether this is affordable if you were unfortunate enough to need to make multiple claims within a short space of time.

Insure with KBIS and save 10% on your vet fee insurance

Horse Health Programme members can now get 10% off their vet fee insurance with KBIS British Equestrian Insurance. KBIS have up to 10 different vet fee options to chose from, depending on your horse’s age, value, and the activities they participate in. Simply give KBIS a call on 0345 230 2323, quote your Horse Health Programme number and the discount will be applied.


CVS (UK) Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of KBIS Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN:300861). Registered address: One America Square, 17 Crosswall, London EC3N 2LB. Registered in England and Wales. (Company No: 2208091)