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Horse Insurance; What you need to know before buying

Today’s Equine market has soared far beyond the imaginations of horse breeders in the past. A very positive trend, yet unsettling when you begin to tabulate the net worth of those beauties tearing across your pastures; or straining heart and muscle to do their best in competition. It doesn’t take a genius to balance risk against investment and come up with the missing link – INSURANCE!

What kind? How much? Where can you find it? You look to experts for other equine needs; insurance is no different. While some insurance questions differ with each owner, we did find some common threads you may find useful.

How much insurance should you have?

Each individual varies on that point, but Tara Griggs Johnson, owner of Griggs Insurance Agency in Canyon, TX, says you pay for what you can afford. “Insurance, as a definition, is to make you whole again – not make you money,” said Johnson.

Jamie Kristjanson, owner of Giddy Up Horse Insurance in Dillon, MT says having insurance on her horses is a requirement to soothe her soul.

Jamie Kristjanson, owner of Giddy Up Insurance in Dillon, MT, says some clients said, some clients like all of the bells and whistles, while others are content with the bare minimum. Most clients fall somewhere in between, so Jamie asks these questions: How much was paid – how old is the horse – what is the horse used for – how much coverage do they want?

“Insurers may suggest at first to “insure for the amount you paid”, Kristjanson says. Then, “As the horse progresses in training, or you win something, you can fill out justifications of value to have the limit increased. Always carry as much as you can afford.”

While you carry as much as you can afford, how do you determine how much is just right? Well, there are formulas based on events the horse will compete in which can be used to decide how much insurance you need. One company (recommended as “best” by a knowledgeable person in the business) figures, in all states, their annual rate for each $1,000 in coverage on horses from 91 days thru 15 years used for barrel racing at 3.25%. For Roping 3.5%; Trail 3.25%; Ranch Riding 3.25%; Reining 3%. Specified Perils is 1% of the value, or $200 MP; whichever is greater. Those are Annual rates, so insurance (for value) on a $10,000 barrel horse under 16 years of age costs $325 per year.

How do I insure my horse?

At Giddy Up Insrance, Kristjanson makes the process easy. “Call. Or go to my website and fill out the quick quote information. I’ll send you applications,” she says. Electronic applications for a variety of uses like farrier, stock contractors, guides/outfitters, and photographers/ videographers can be found on Kristjanson’s website,

Girggs Insurance makes the process easy as well; you can request a free quote on thier website at

When registering your horse, you will need some information on hand. On the horse, you will need the registered name (or barn name if grade), registration number, date of birth, and color of the horse. There will likely be other questions as well: What you use the horse for, the date you bought the horse, and how much you paid for the horse are common. Of course, there will be questions on the application about the owner of the horse as well, so be prepared with your basic information.

Types of Insurance

Of course, as different horses have different jobs on the ranch, there are different insurance options. Generally, the insurance ‘type’ will be the same for all horses, but there are different endorsements you can add to your policy. At Griggs Insurance, they can help you add mortality insurance, tack insurance, or personal libility insurance on your equine athlete.

Kristjanson recomends an infertility policy on stallions, and advises that mares need to be insured 60-days before foaling dates. A vet certificate is needed on mares before foaling, to ensure they are “healthy and happy”. To insure a mare after foaling, you’ll have to wait 30-days post a sucessful foaling.

What level of insurance is necessary?

According to Kristjanson, that a different answer for everyone. “Fear is the driving force behind most insurance wants or needs,” said Kristjanson. “What I consider plenty might seem ridiculous to someone that’s suffered a different type of loss that they never want to experience again.”

Kristjanson jokes that her 401K is in her pasture surrounded by barbed wire. “As much as I tell those buggers to make good decisions, I can’t imagine losing them to something that might only cost me 98 cents a day to insure against,” she said.

Why someone should invest in equine insurance is different for each senario. When asked why someone would need horse insurance, she says she has several different answers, based on the client’s story. “Some people can take the hit – others can’t,” she said, “I just can’t imagine (having lost our good rope horse a few years ago) not having her replacement, our new pal Alice, in the pasture now.”

Insure what you love

“If that horse is your therapy and your way of enjoying the great outdoors, please insure you can get back to what you love after losing your best pal,” said Kristjanson. “Insurance claims and payouts won’t soften the blow. But, being able to fill a little of that hole in your heart with a new pal is worth every single penny in premiums.”

It is not required to have equine insurance to drive down the road, it is a luxury thing. But, for many in the western industry, it is required to insure you can always get back to doing what you love.

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Rhonda grew up on a Wyoming ranch learning almost every aspect of ranching and rodeo life starting from the time she could first sit on a horse. She began young, winning her first horsemanship award at two, and went on to be a champion barrel racer, a rodeo queen, rodeo organist, published western writer and radio show host

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