Farm Management

Skip The Risk and Savor The Rewards

President and founder of Connaway & Associates Equine Insurance, Laura Connaway breaks down insurance options for common scenarios

The author competing at shows with her homebred Quite Funny. ©Sportfot

I breed, train, and show my own horses. I know the highs and lows of doing what we all love so much. As much as a perfect ride can take my breath away, so can an unexpected catastrophe. The latter feels much worse.

So, if I could choose which breathtaking moments I want in my life, a beautiful ride or the cost of diagnosing and treating a mysterious lameness, the choice would be easy. The good news: I can choose, and so can you.

Maybe that’s a pretty uncommon take on equine insurance, but it’s why I love what I do. As a horse and farm owner, I know the risks and the rewards. As an equine insurance agent, I know how to eliminate the impact of those risks so I can better savor the rewards.

Loose horse!

We’ve all seen people fall off at shows. Maybe a rider’s horse spooked and bolted out of the ring. Then he galloped through the parking lot, kicked in some car doors, and took some rearview mirrors with him. It happens in seconds. While the owners of those cars might sympathize, the rider is still liable for the damage their horse caused. This is where personal horse owner liability comes into play.

A loose horse at a show can quickly cause property damage or even injure a spectator. Personal horse owner liability insurance can help protect you from a potential lawsuit if your horse is the culprit! ©Emily Daily

When people share stories like this, I tell them to call the carrier of their homeowners’ insurance. Homeowner policies often include coverage when animals (typically dogs) injure somebody or someone’s property. It’s important to understand that many homeowners’ policies limit equine liability coverage or exclude it all together.

If a standard home or farm liability policy doesn’t cover equine liability, an experienced horse insurance agent can tailor these types of products into a client’s policy so they can breathe a little easier and ride a little better, even in the spookiest of rings. 

We’ll have to run some more tests

Imagine your horse is lame but you just can’t pinpoint what it is. You’ve consulted the best vets and all they’re coming up with are “could be’s” and “might be’s.” They need to run more tests; expensive tests. That often leads to even more costly treatments. Many of us, including myself, know the feeling all too well.

Equine major medical insurance grants you the freedom to hit the diagnostics hard. State-of-the-art testing isn’t cheap. If your horse needs an MRI, don’t panic. Even if the cost makes you a bit anxious, you can still rest assured knowing you’re covered. You can give your vet the freedom to do everything in his or her power to keep your horse healthy and trotting soundly without sacrificing your kids’ college funds.

It’s helpful to know that this kind of peace of mind can be tailored to fit any situation. I’ve done this long enough to know there’s always a creative way to address specific needs on almost any budget.

How ‘bout this weather?

I’ve seen holes from hail, roofs wiped out by wind, and fencing flattened by trees. Repair costs can rocket into the five- or six-digit range. Sufficient farm property insurance can’t stop mother nature’s fury, but it can certainly help make it seem like she was never there.

Storms can cause expensive damage to barns and other outbuildings. Sufficient farm property insurance will help avoid massive out-of-pocket repair costs.

Generally, property policies have higher deductibles for more major problems, but it’s nowhere near the out-of-pocket expense you’d be stuck with if you weren’t insured. Again, these policies can be tailored to many property sizes and set-ups and cover a mix of residential and commercial exposures. It can provide coverage for structures like homes, barns, covered arenas, run-in sheds, and outbuildings.

Meanwhile, liability insurance can provide coverage for the risk/exposure associated with boarding, instruction, training, breeding, and horse sales.

A silver lining

Unfortunately, there are some tragedies only time can heal. I know from experience. I once purchased a new colt and thought I had a foolproof plan in place. I chose not to bring him home until I had finished that winter’s showing season. I wanted to be present and oversee his acclimation to our farm. The first day I had him, he tried to jump a wooden fence, impaled himself on a post, and died.

Sometimes even the best planning can’t prevent a tragedy. Losing a horse is the absolute worst-case scenario for anyone. While insurance couldn’t physically wrap a warm blanket around me, it somehow still reminded me that everything would be okay.

I insure all of my horses hoping I’ll never have to use it, but I like knowing it’s there if I need it. It’s something I always tell my clients, too. Equine full mortality insurance reimburses the insured value of a horse in the event of death due to any cause. That typically also includes theft as well as provisions for humane destruction.

There’s nothing more important than protecting the ones we love. This is a favorite photo of one of my youngest homebreds, Desiderata. Courtesy of Laura Connaway.

There will always be risks in owning and riding horses, but at least you have the power to mitigate the toll they might take. If you haven’t already, try talking to an agent with proven knowledge of different types of horses; someone who knows the show ring, current horse values, and the insurance business as a whole. It should be a positive and reassuring experience. You want to feel comfortable enough to ask questions about the insured value you’re considering and speak openly about your horse’s current and past health. An agent should be able to tailor a policy to your needs and budget so you can focus more on moments that take your breath away for all the right reasons.


©Sandra Gregory

Laura Connaway is President and founder of Connaway & Associates. When she’s not busy with her equine insurance business, she also competes successfully as an amateur in the top levels of show jumping with her homebreds and enjoys fly fishing with her husband. For more information on Laura and Connaway & Associates, visit www.connaway.net or follow them on Facebook and Instagram