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The Olympics for Horses: Are Your Clients Covered?

The seventh annual FEI World Equestrian Games, to take place at the end of this summer in Normandy, are a good reminder that equine insurance demands intimate knowledge of unique exposures.
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The FEI World Equestrian Games have been held every four years since 1990, encompassing every discipline of the sport in an international display of equestrian excellence. The seventh event will take place at the end of this summer in Normandy, requiring overseas transport of elite horses from all over the world.

It’s a good reminder that similar to classic car insurance, the equine insurance world is a passion business.

“It’s all common sense if you know about horses,” says Michael Taylor, president of Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. “If you’re a horse person, you know what the issues are. I would hope most agents [selling equine] have some serious knowledge of horses.”

For starters, transport insurance presents a unique exposure for many insureds, whether they’re heading to this year’s games or another international equestrian event in between. “The horses that travel internationally have a different exposure than horses that are being shown or kept within a few miles within your farm,” says Kimberly Jarvis, president of C. Jarvis Insurance Agency, Inc.

Insurance agents that know horses—or at least partner with carriers that do—will have more success helping their clients prepare for unique situations like international travel. For example? “One issue with horses and flying is that they dehydrate like humans,” Taylor explains. “And you’ve got to be really careful not to change the feed too much, otherwise they get colic. If you’re not really aware of that, the horses can get into serious trouble.”

Those nuances are what make transport insurance such an “important area for agents and clients to understand,” says Julian Bowen-Rees, managing director of the horse and farm insurance program for Markel Specialty. “The basic policy here in the U.S. covers the horse within the continental mainland. If the horse leaves and the agent hasn’t extended or endorsed that policy to include international transit, it’s not covered.”

Bowen-Rees says most insurers can easily provide that coverage at a small additional premium. The issue is knowing that it’s necessary in the first place—which means it’s important for agents to find out right off the bat if a client is planning on showing his or her horses on an international basis. If that’s the case, you’ll need to rate some form of worldwide coverage so the insurer doesn’t have to track which country the horse is in at any particular moment.

“Worldwide coverage allows the horse to travel via air or terrain with no territorial limits between countries across the world and overseas,” Jarvis explains. “In many instances, a horse will be in the United States today, Europe tomorrow, the Middle East in three months—one never knows. By addressing and providing such coverage from the start, we eliminate the possibility of inadequate coverage.”

Pay similar attention to clients that have a policy in effect on a horse that currently resides in the U.S. but recently made an elite team, and adjust coverage accordingly so the horse can get on the road with adequate protection. Your clients will undoubtedly appreciate that you did your homework.

“You soon get found out, to be honest, if you’re pretending to know the horse market,” Bowen-Rees says. “That becomes evident to a client very quickly. You’ve got to have very experienced horse people on the underwriting and claims side who can talk the talk and understand the issues that come up with insuring animals.”

And once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, the niche nature of the equine market presents an excellent opportunity for client retention. “I’m a third-generation horsewoman, my daughter’s a fourth-generation horsewoman—it’s in our blood,” Jarvis says. “We can’t help but get excited about what we do. If you show a love, passion and interest in what your customers are doing, they can’t help but stay with you.”

Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.