BEVA meets with Equine Insurance Providers | British Equine Veterinary Association
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BEVA meets with Equine Insurance Providers

News BEVA News Insurance Council Updates
24 Jan 2024 BEVA

On 23rd January, members of BEVA Council attended the annual Insurance Providers Meeting, chaired by BEVA, where many of the brokers and underwriters come together to discuss matters affecting the equine insurance industry. This year’s meeting included the following highlights:

The current state of the equine insurance market: There was a reminder that the equine market is a niche, and relatively small market, divided into wholesale and retail, then further subdivided between bloodstock and sports and pleasure horses. As such, there is less tolerance in the system when it comes to sustainability. Sports horses were reported to be a growing proportion of the overall market. Inflation was noted to have affected veterinary fee claims, but not those for mortality.

Communication: While vets are not authorised to give advice relating to insurance, it was recognised that they may experience pressure from owners to do so. It is important that vets direct owners to their insurance provider regarding all matters relating to their policy cover. It is also essential that owners seek clarification and advice from their provider as early as possible in relation to a potential claim. It is the responsibility of the owner, as the policy holder, to understand their policy and seek advice from the provider where necessary.

Veterinary Reports: There was a reminder for vets to ensure their reports provide factual information and clinical opinion, and to avoid stating their opinion on how claims should be considered, for example where there might be separate/split claims Vs single claims. The details pertaining to claim handling are specific policies, and are decided upon by the insurance providers. For instance, some providers may work on the basis of clinical association, whereas others define claims based on timing of the presentation of conditions.

Vaccinations: The EVA vaccine shortage could impact LOU claims where stallions are found to be infected. WNV poses an emerging disease threat for the UK, and a vaccine is available which could protect horses from clinical disease. At present it is advisable to recommend vaccination of any horses travelling to endemic areas (e.g. for competitions, breeding, etc). The new strangles vaccine should reduce clinical cases in the UK, and therefore those horses which are vaccinated would present a lower risk for insurers. Along with influenza and tetanus vaccination, these vaccines lower the overall risk a horse presents in terms of insurance. It was accepted that some insurers would not accept claims relating to diseases which are preventable through vaccination.

Obesity as a risk factor: It was accepted that obesity increases the risk of an insurance claim (i.e. hyperinsulinaemia, laminitis, etc). As such, it would be justifiable for providers to request information pertaining to body condition score in order to calculate risk and consider either an increase in premium or the application of a temporary exclusion for related claims, which could be removed where an improvement in body condition has been demonstrated.

Genetic risk factors: With new genetic data constantly being presented, insurers may be able to look at breed and heritability genetic traits which increase the risk of disease, therefore claims. Acrosomal gene testing was discussed, with its implication for LOU claims being made for affected stallions.

Vets’ understanding of equine insurance: Following on from previous meetings, BEVA is now in the final stages of launching an educational series of webinars as part of an online course for vets and nurses, to help them better understand equine insurance. Watch this space!

Types of cover: It was reported that more owners were choosing to ‘self-insure’. Meanwhile, there has been a positive response to new products which are based on ‘co-insuring’, where owners pay a percentage of all veterinary costs and may in turn better understand the cost of veterinary care (which can be a challenge in a country where human’s experience state-provided healthcare).

BEVA All Risks Mortality Guidelines: BEVA has completed Phase 1 of the review of this document. There was a reminder for all that these guidelines are intended for use by vets, and that insurers need their own definitions rather than always referring to the “BEVA Guidelines”, as this frequently results in disgruntled clients contacting and apportioning the blame to BEVA. It was recognised that there needs to be discussion and clarification on what constitutes significant pain and suffering. The euthanasia decision tree remains a helpful tool for vets. The requirement for a postmortem was sometimes not fully understood but equally the difficulty in satisfying this was discussed, in terms of the need for skilled, appropriately equipped individuals with suitable facilities. Phase 2 will shortly commence, which involves revision of the conditions table, especially those relating to chronic disease.

New Foal Certificate: Now available, with separate owner and vet declarations.

Choice of treatments: Discussions were had about innovation, introduction and availability of new treatments. In a similar vein, the definition of routine management and treatment when considering dental conditions was also discussed, where some insurers are considering diastema and caries to be variations of normal, therefore ineligible for claims. Routine use of joint supplements and related products was also explored, where some are prescribed or recommended in the absence of a definitive diagnosis. Similarly, treatment for gastric ulcers requires symptoms and evidence of the presence of disease, particularly where ongoing claims are being submitted. Some regenerative therapies are being excluded (e.g. stem cells) on the basis that they are ‘additional products’, which require pre-authorisation.

The next meeting will be January 2025.