Insurance for the Free Gimpy Horse

Insurance for the Free Gimpy Horse

When I first acquired Simon, I made a deal with my husband that I would only have a horse if I carried insurance on it.  We’re both hard core animal lovers and bleeding hearts, and we knew that if it came down to the choice of saving my horse or going into large amounts of debt… we’d probably go into large amounts of debt.  That scared him, so I assured him that insurance was the answer.

Now over a year later I am a bit late to the punch… but I can finally say that Simon is insured.

When I first started the process, it was most important for me to keep yearly premiums low while still covering my butt.  I knew I wanted mortality and major medical, but not loss of use – so I set out to email companies and get quotes. A representative from Equine Insurance Center mailed me back personally in reference to my online quote, and I began a lengthy email chain with her to figure out what the best insurance was for my boy.

Since I am an honest person who does not want to get caught for insurance fraud, I was up front about Simon’s lameness history and arthritic changes in his Right Hind hock. This immediately made the insurance company see my horse as so –


Essentially a 3 legged horse.  Anything that could ever happen in that right hind leg, even unrelated to the hock injury, won’t be covered.

With this in mind, I started comparing Major Medical with simply Surgical insurance.  Most companies MM included Shockwave, MRI’s, and Bone Scans (and some Stem Cell)… all three very good tools for treating lameness but what good would they be if I couldn’t use them in the leg that was already compromised?  Major medical was also pretty damn expensive, so I looked into surgical.

Surgical insurance covered anything that happens to my horse (except in his RH) while under general anesthesia.  That includes colic surgery, broken bones, major cuts, or even if he decides to poke himself in the eye and requires extensive eye surgery (yes, this has happened to one of my past horses).  Surgical was also cheaper than MM.

Neither MM nor surgical covered joint injections, which I know I have in my future.

From my perspective, I was worried about the “oh shit” disasters that can happen with a horse.  Broken leg that’s repairable but expensive, colic surgery… basically anything that is life threatening and expensive.  For me, it made sense to go with surgical.


After I decided on that, it was time to evaluate his worth.  I’ll be honest here and say that I asked to insure Simon for $5,000 mortality.  Even though he has some issues that would show up on a pre-purchase and his show miles aren’t extensive yet, I didn’t think I could replace him for less than that.

Since my bill of sale for him is for $1.00, the insurance company had me fill out a form to justify his value.  I had to put in all his show records and the duration and monetary amount of pro-training rides that he’s had.  I was pretty skeptical that they would accept the $5,000, but the company I chose was fine with it.


There are a ton of insurance companies out there, and Equine Insurance Center mapped them all out for me very well. I ended up with Great American due to the excellent reputation I have heard from others. I know many of you have stated that they recently changed their Major Medical policy to exclude horses worth less than $25,000, but since we went with surgical that didn’t affect me.

At the end of the day, I went with $5,000 mortality and $10,000 surgical insurance for a total of $350 a year.  I will re-evaluate next year, but for now I’m really pleased.  I feel covered in case something happens, and not having to choose between my horse’s life or insane debt if he colics.

What about you – do you keep your horses insured?

23 thoughts on “Insurance for the Free Gimpy Horse

  1. Sigh, insurance is a big thing that we’ve been researching for a long time. I’d say eventually we’ll end up insuring them, just have to find the right time, company and etc. I think it’s a smart thing to do and honestly if anything ever happened to Red, God forbid, I’d love to know he is insured.
    On another note, I paid 1.00 for Red as well. 😉 Lol!

  2. I too need to insure Riva – it just seems so overwhelming and now she has known issues with her right front club foot and left front knee. But would like to have her covered in the event of colic or other major medical issues. Good post and thanks for the recommend of Equine Insurance Center.

  3. I don’t even think I’d know where to start with Cara. How much is she worth to me? Priceless. To others, well who knows. She’s never had any major formal injuries, save for muscle tears, but that being said she’s had a lot of bumps and scrapes and everything leaves a mark on her. Not to mention all the junk in her joints from racing. Do you think insurance companies would look at ‘racing jewellery’ as a good thing? 😛

  4. Good to know–though I paid more than $1 for River, it still wasn’t anywhere near $5,000, and like Simon he’s got known (albeit minor) joint issues so I wasn’t too sure whether insurance would even be feasible. Now my problem is still that I’d have to pay the bill up front and then insurance reimburses…and at this point I just don’t have the money for that up-front cost! Soooo guess I pray he doesn’t kill himself till I can get out of school and have a “real” job. Appreciating all the insurance posts up lately, though! 🙂

    1. Yeah, the up front cost is the biggie. For better or worse, we have a lot of available credit through credit cards. So if he ever were to try and off himself, I would have to put the expense on a credit card and then wait for reimbursement. I believe I would get 70% back from what I remember reading about the details, but that may be higher.

  5. I have both Kai and River insured, but I really wish I had gotten the major medical for Riv. I had him for exactly one month before our lameness issues started, and he had vetted clean with a bazillion x-rays the month before. If I had gone with MM I could have tried to shockwave treat the tendon, but since I can’t afford it out of pocket he is on a farm in bastrop for 9 months, hoping it heals naturally 🙁

    1. That’s really bad luck with Riv :/ I hope his stay-cation leaves him sound and feeling amazing. When Simon is showing/doing more and I am hopefully less poor, I’m planning to bump him up to Major Medical. Just depends on how things are looking with him!

  6. I’ve been searching around for the last month or so.. I still don’t know exactly what I want, just I need to just ask an agent a million questions to get the help I need to make my decision.

  7. Yes. If Lily wasnt insured, this tendon injury would’ve put us in the poorhouse! Yes, I paid upfront, but I put the expenses on a credit card, and as soon as the insurance reimbursed (within TWO DAYS!! of faxing my paid invoices), I immediately paid the card balance. They paid for everything except the barn call: sedatives, pain meds, xrays, ultrasounds, lameness exams & rechecks.
    I honestly didn’t find the process of insuring Lily as daunting as some say. At all. I requested quotes from different companies that were recommended, and went with the one I could afford. Lily is insured for $7,500 major medical & surgical, and $1300 mortality. She was a free horse that has only shown once, and I’ve put all the training into her. It was nice that they still let me put some sort of value on her. I use The Hartford.

    1. And regarding exclusions: at the time of insuring her, she had already sustained the puncture wound to the left hind hoof, so the hoof was excluded, but they still covered the tendon injury on the same leg, since both incidents were unrelated.

  8. After reading some thread on CoTH a few months ago, I made the decision to do this whenever I decide to purchase my own horse. Thank you for posting some details about the process and a review as well. Appreciated.

  9. This is something I really would like to look into. I was very lucky with my first horse. He’s been free of any major medical issues his entire life but I have a feeling I won’t be so lucky with Loki.

  10. I have been back and forth on what I want to do for Estella. $350 a year sounds really good to me… I guess I had no idea what to expect! I might be emailing you with questions ;). Thanks SO much for the info and getting the ball rolling!

  11. Lol my mom and I were just talking about this…. -___-. I’m going to have to insure Wiz when I get out of college, assuming he recovers fully from EPM. Not sure how that effects insurance! I think you got a pretty good deal, though. Thanks for the info and things to think about!

  12. I never gave it much thought because I didn’t own a 50k horse – you know, some price point that surely everyone insures at. Granted, Sam is the most expensive horse I’ve owned and he cost more then all the 6 horses/ponies I’ve owned put together. I guess I just thought it would be really pricey. But $350 doesn’t seem that much… and I really can’t afford to replace him. Thanks for the post. I’m going to look into it.

  13. Interesting. I had no idea there were so many options for equine insurance! Definitely didn’t know you could insure a horse that wasn’t a great racehorse or show horse. Something to keep in mind!

  14. I looked into insuring Tristan some time back, but he already had a colic history and now he has a fairly extensive lameness injury. It didn’t make sense for me at the time, and I’ve never desperately regretted doing it.

    My next horse, however, I would insure, to start from scratch.

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