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South Essex's 'Equine Healthcare' Jumps Into The 21st Century

South Essex Insurance Brokers, which has pioneered most major developments in equestrian protection over the last 30 years, is to refine its policies to provide a "equine healthcare" service.

"When they pay their premiums, owners are really investing in their horse or pony's health and well being," said equine director David Buckton. "What they are doing is to buy healthcare in the same way that people buy private medical care for themselves - we provide the funds to help a horse or pony get better when it has a problem."

Managing director Barry Fehler said: "In the past, when veterinary costs were comparatively low, people took out livestock policies to insure their saddlery, or cover the cost of a horse's life. If they lost a horse, financially they had lost three thousand or so pounds.

"Today, the majority of people buy horse or pony policies to get the option of recovering the costs incurred when the vet is necessary, and because veterinary treatments have improved beyond recognition in the last decade, many conditions once regarded as terminal can now be treated - but are expensive."

Veterinary science has taken huge steps forward, both in treatments and diagnostic equipment. But research is costly and the original investment is ultimately reclaimed through the end client. But equine healthcare costs undertaken through South Essex, as with private medical care, depend on the type of policy and can rise to as high as £5,000 for each of an unlimited number of incidents a year.

"Even this highest option of care is not expensive. An owner wanting that £5,000-per incident level for an eight-year-old animal competing at riding club level would pay about £25 per month, and it could include alternative treatments such as physiotherapy as well as theft and mortality" said Mr Buckton.

South Essex Insurance Brokers offers "fringe benefits" in its service. A 24- hour helpline can give instant authority for live-saving operations, minimal investment of £1 a month provides another 24/12 help for emergency veterinary help, particularly useful for people who travel extensively to compete many miles from their own vet.

"What we want is for people to look at equine healthcare the way as they do when they take out private medical cover for themselves and their families. It then becomes an investment for their horses and ponies, explains Mr Buckton. "And when you consider that the cost of treatment for a horse's colic could be very similar to paying privately for some of the more complicated human operations the whole thing becomes more realistic."


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