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Equine Insurance Policy Notice Requirements

Imagine the shock of returning from a lengthy vacation only to learn that your horse died at the boarding stable soon after you left, but stable management could not reach you to consent to needed surgery.  Your horse was put down.  Imagine the further shock when your equine insurance company advises you that it has denied your claim because nobody gave it proper or timely notice of your horse’s illness and death.

Equine insurance policies usually require that you give the company (or designated representative) prompt notice of an insured horse's illness, lameness, or injury.  Insurers take these provisions very seriously, and many will deny claims on the basis that they were not given proper notice.  When this happens, litigation sometimes follows.

Equine Mortality Insurance

Equine mortality insurance policies are designed to pay you a sum of money after your horse dies from illness, injury, disease, or accident.  These policies may also provide coverage if your horse is stolen.  As a condition to their issuance, these policies require that the insured horse be in good health and free from any injury, disease, or disability at the time the application is made (or, in some cases the insurer could impose an “exclusion” through which it will not cover certain pre-existing conditions).

The Notice Condition

A common requirement of equine mortality policies is that the horse owner give the insurance company “prompt” or “immediate” notice of illness, lameness, or injury.  Notice requirements vary among insurers.  One equine mortality policy sets it forth this way:

It is a condition precedent to any liability of the Company hereunder that:

  1. the Insured shall at all times provide proper care and attention for each animal hereby insured, and
  2. in addition, in the event of any illness, disease, lameness, injury, accident, or physical disability whatsoever of or to an insured animal the insured shall immediately at his own expense employ a qualified Veterinary Surgeon and shall, if required by the Company, allow removal for treatment, and
  3. in either event the insured shall immediately give notice by telephone or telegram to the person or persons specified on the policy who will instruct a Veterinary Surgeon on the Company's behalf if deemed necessary.

Avoiding Disputes

Notice disputes can be avoided.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Read your insurance policy carefully.  Pay particular attention to its requirements, especially that you give the insurance company “prompt” or “immediate” notice of any injury or illness to the insured horse.  Never assume that you will be relieved of this burden if you fail or refuse to read your policy.
  2. Give the insurer notice.  To help you satisfy the notice requirement, your policy will provide a 24-hour, toll-free number to contact the insurer or its designated claims representative.  Most likely, this number will NOT be the number of the insurance agent that sold you the policy.
  3. Keep notice information handy and share it freely.  Once you receive the emergency contact number, keep it on hand and give it to your boarding stable, your trainer, and everyone who has custody of your horse in your absence.  Before leaving town for a vacation or business trip, confirm that these people have the information in case you cannot be reached and will provide the insurer notice in your absence.
  4. Prepare to call any time.  Prepare to make a notice call at all times.  Insurers expect these calls all day, all night, and on holidays.
  5. Give the insurer the opportunity to speak with your veterinarian.  Some insurance companies might want to speak to the attending veterinarian, especially if the horse is seriously ill and might be a candidate for humane euthanasia.  Give the insurer that opportunity.

If you have any questions about equine mortality insurance, please give me a call or shoot me an email.

Categories: Boarding, Insurance, Liability

Photo of Julie I. Fershtman
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is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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Our Equine law blog (and its author) in the news!

Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.

Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:

National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants. 

U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability. 

IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”

National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics. 

Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”

2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”

November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”

Honors & Recognitions

Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership

"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council

"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association 

"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association

"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association 

What our Equine Law Services can Provide

Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.

Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).

Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals,  businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.

Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.

Representing and advising insurers on  coverage and policy language as well as litigation;

Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.

Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 

THE NATION'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER EQUINE LAW SPEAKER

Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.

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