Insurance for vets’ fees pays for the fees of the horse’s first opinion vet. If a second opinion or a referral to a hospital facility is sought, then the insurance company must be informed prior to the referral/second opinion appointment, and they will decide whether or not to authorize further costs, or will set a limit on such costs.
In practice, insurance companies rarely have any problem with referral of horses for further investigation and treatment at an equine hospital (given that the total cost falls within that allowed by the policy), but they may not authorize payment for a second opinion if they do not consider such an appointment to be necessary.
Where complementary or alternative medicine practitioners are concerned, their assistance with a case must be recommended by the vet, and before such treatment is initiated, advice should be sought from the insurance company as to whether or not they will cover such costs.
Again, in practice, most insurance companies cover treatments that are recommended by the vet such as physiotherapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, as long as they are carried out by reputable practitioners who have completed the necessary training. Such practitioners should always check with a horse’s vet before assessing or treating the horse, in order to ensure that such treatments are appropriate in each particular case.
Complementary or alternative medicine practitioners
What is physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is a non-invasive therapy that involves working on a horse’s muscles and other soft tissues to improve mobility and reduce pain. It can be useful in horses that have had limb or back injuries, and it may improve their quality of life and performance. Licensed physiotherapists should only ever be used, and only on the advice of a veterinary surgeon.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves putting fine needles through the skin and into the underlying tissues in locations where they can have an effect on the nervous system. It can be used for treating a wide range of conditions but is most often used to treat back and limb pain and stiffness. Acupuncture treatment of horses should only be carried out by veterinary acupuncturists.
What is chiropractic treatment?
Chiropractic treatment involves working on the soft tissues and bones of a horse to improve mobility and reduce pain. Like physiotherapy, it is often used to treat head, back or limb pain or stiffness, and should only be carried out by licensed practitioners on the recommendation of a vet.
What is homoeopathy?
Homoeopathy involves the use of various products at high dilution to treat a wide range of conditions with few side effects. Treatment of horses should only be carried out by vets registered to practise homoeopathy.
What about herbs?
A number of herbs are available to treat a wide range of conditions in horses. They should only really be used on the advice of a veterinary surgeon.