I don’t have loss of use, so I may decide to put him down. Will a vet sanction this, and will the insurance company pay me for vets’ fees and loss of horse?
Deidre Carson answers:
This is an all-too-common situation. You bought the horse in good faith and had him vetted. There was no evidence of lameness or pathology evident at the time of vetting and the horse had not been lame until recently. There is no reason to believe that there was any pre-existing problem, as it appears that the horse has been sound for the best part of a year.
Your insurance cover is for vets’ fees and mortality only, and does not cover loss of use. This is fairly common as loss of use insurance can be expensive. Unfortunately, your horse has been given a poor prognosis for a return to soundness. However, while low-grade lameness may mean you cannot ride him, it does not provide grounds for humane destruction.
What’s more, from the same insurance perspective it is not nescessary to have a horse put to sleep on humane grounds. As a result, your vet is not obliged to put the horse to sleep. Also, the insurance company will not, and is under no obligation to, pay out on a mortality claim.
The horse is probably quite capable of living a comfortable life turned out for most of the time with judicious use of painkilers – many horses are. And decision to have your horse put down will be based on management and cost, and will be your decision alone.
You can choose to have him put to sleep either by another vet or your local hunt, but you will not be able to claim on your insurance policy. Sadly, this is always a risk with horses covered by a simple mortality insurance policy.