The current EHV-1 outbreak in Europe, and subsequent cases in the U.S., has many wondering about the role of equine insurance and if it’s even possible to get insured if your horse has potentially been exposed to EHV-1.

Laura Connaway, grand prix jumper rider and president of Connaway & Associates Equine Insurance Services, Inc., addresses the questions her firm is commonly asked in these types of situations and sheds light on what horse owners can expect from insurance carriers during this time. 

As an equine insurance professional, how often are you confronted with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV)?

Various strains of EHV crop up from time to time. The U.S. had a significant increase in cases in 2006 and again in 2013, for example. Every five or so years we seem to have an uptick and it usually happens when horses are in a concentrated area. The insurance carriers have a pulse on issues such as EHV outbreaks and will alert us (the insurance agency) to specific areas of the country that may be dealing with it at any given time.

As a barn owner or venue, is there any special coverage that can be secured to protect themselves should an outbreak take place on the property?

No, there is no special coverage that a barn owner or venue can hold for a contagious disease. As a horse owner, you bring your horse to the new barn or venue and compete at your own risk so it’s up to the individual to make sure their horse(s) are safe.

How likely are insurance carriers to issue insurance coverage amid an EHV scare?

Each carrier has a little bit of a different take on it and some are more reactive than others. Currently, some carriers are being more sensitive about where the horses are located and what exposures they may have had, while other carriers are not quite as concerned.

From an insurance agency and carrier perspective, the process for dealing with an EHV (or other viral) outbreak is something that we go through on a regular basis—it’s very similar to dealing with a severe weather event. For example, as category storms and weather warnings crop up, the insurance carriers will cover exactly what they say they will cover for their current customers. Nothing about the storm changes how they manage their existing customers or “risks.” Carriers often limit risk by not taking on new customers in the storm’s path.

So, if your horse has been exposed to EHV or has been in an area where EHV is confirmed, it’s possible that certain carriers will not want to open themselves up to new risks and therefore not issue new insurance coverage for a given time, but again, it depends on the carrier.

Is it possible to get insurance coverage for a horse being imported from Europe during an EHV outbreak?

It’s a little trickier given the current EHV-1 outbreak in Europe. However, this is changing daily so my advice would be to speak with your insurance agency directly as they can assist in finding the best option for you.

What factors do insurance carriers take into consideration when they are alerted to an EHV outbreak?

As we’re binding coverage, the carrier will need to know where the horse is, what it’s been doing, and where it has been to understand the horse’s exposure to EHV, if any.

Any tips for horse owners looking to properly insure their horses amid an event such as an EHV outbreak?

Whether we’re dealing with an EHV outbreak or not, it’s important to make sure that the horse is insured on the front end. By that I mean that all risks and exposures should be presented upfront so that the carrier is fully aware of the risk they are accepting.  

Since 1992, Connaway & Associates has built a strong reputation as a reliable partner in competition and in business. Connaway and Associates is licensed in 48 states and offers competitive insurance coverage options through several A-rated admitted insurance carriers. For more information, visit

Feature photo by Frank Sorge for Arnd Bronkhorst Photography