In-depth - specialist lines: Benefits in bloodstock / Healthcare on hand

  • The bloodstock world can seem difficult to break in to, but with a passion for the sport of kings and racehorse owners sitting on all points of the wealth scale, brokers can successfully ride into the sector

  • Offering health insurance could make the difference between retaining or losing a client

If brokers want to hold on to existing clients and maximise growth opportunities, it makes sense to be able to say ‘yes’ to placing even the trickiest risks. Rachel Gordon puts bloodstock and healthcare in the spotlight

rearing horse

The bloodstock sector is a tight-knit one that has contacts in all the right places – and is on hand to help brokers with clients who may want cover for flat racing horses but also those at the top end of show-jumping, eventing and dressage. 

Anna Goodley, associate director at Lycetts, explains there are a range of products on offer and, while racehorse owners can be extremely wealthy, this is not exclusively the case. 

“You can have owners of single racehorses who really value the safety net of insurance,” she says.

The primary risk is mortality, with cover paying out if a horse is fatally injured when racing, for example. But, lack of fertility is also a risk, and high fees, perhaps up to £150,000 or more can be charged for a mare to be covered by a stallion. 

Insurance can also cover transit risks, and while horses often fly long distances safely, there are instances when they can become ill with equine travel sickness, which occasionally can result in death.

Goodley explains those working in this sector know horses inside out and act as a trusted pair of hands for referring brokers. “We typically take people on who ride or who have worked in racing and can talk knowledgeably with underwriters and clients, attending sales, racing and other events where they can be close to the market.” 

This is an international market with some big values involved, you could have a horse bought for £100,000 which goes on to win The Derby and then is worth £30m
David Ashby
white horse


She continues: “Knowledge about insurance is less important, this can always be learnt, what matters is understanding horses.”

Meanwhile Philip Nelson, managing director for international broker Lonmar Global Risks, agrees in-depth knowledge is a defining characteristic of the market. “There are specialist mass-market providers dealing with riding horses and ponies while the London Market is there for the high value horses, mainly in racing but also in sport, such as those that compete in the Olympics.”

He adds: “This is a small sector that involves working with a range of experts. We have close relationships with equine vets and the transit professionals who fly horses all over the world, increasingly to Australia, New Zealand, the US and Hong Kong, among others. We are always able to help if brokers have queries in this area.”

Big money

David Ashby, managing director and principal underwriter at Amlin Plus, comments: “This is an international market with some big values involved, you could have a horse bought for £100,000 which goes on to win The Derby and then is worth £30m. 

“Looking at the breeding side, stud fees can be high, but the use of a stallion’s services are paid for even if they are untested, while we might ask an expert vet such as the Texas-based Dickson Varner for an assessment, there is still an element of guesswork, so insurance can be a wise move.”

He concludes: “Brokers should not feel out of their depth if it turns out one of their commercial clients owns a valuable horse, those of us in the market are able to advise on and provide cover for those risks.”

Brokers with a can-do attitude and a determination to ensure their renewals are as high as possible need to make sure they can either handle specialist risks themselves or have experts on hand to pick up the reins – no matter what these are for.

surgery operating theatre

Healthcare on hand

Offering health insurance could make the difference between retaining or losing a client

Many commercial brokers take a hands-off approach to health insurance. But, if clients want to insure the health of their people as well as their other risks, this could be leaving the door wide open to the opposition. 

Chris Cunnington joined Nottingham broker Russell Scanlan a year ago, specifically to help the firm build up a health insurance portfolio, and now advises a number of firms, predominantly in the Midlands. 

The healthcare administrator says business is growing steadily and there are good retention rates. Quality comprehensive private medical insurance is expensive and there is no real way of getting around this, but it is often one of the most valued perks. 

Cunnington points out there have been efforts in recent years to make the product more engaging, through focusing on providing preventative health advice such as workplace wellness days. 

“These are really well received and some employees will take on board the guidance, making lifestyle changes that not only make them feel better, but also less likely to become ill,” he adds.

There is always the risk that if a commercial broker does not do health and they send the client to another firm, then they could put the whole account at risk
Paul Moulton

No waiting 

Zanele Sibanda of broker Towergate believes constant references to the NHS being under pressure have hit home with SMEs who want their staff treated quickly, rather than having to wait months for treatment. “The NHS is fantastic if there is an emergency, but for non-urgent treatment, there can be long waiting times. 

“Plans are also now more likely to include online GP apps, which are helpful for those needing repeat prescriptions and referrals, as it can be difficult to get an appointment with an NHS GP,” Sibanda continues.

According to Paul Moulton, director for SME business at Axa PPP Healthcare, one of the main concerns among non-specialist brokers is about falling foul of the regulator. 

So, rather than move in ‘cold’ he says it often makes sense to recruit someone with previous experience, or if acquisition is on the cards, to look at one that includes healthcare. 

“There are a number of brokers specialising in commercial that also offer healthcare – Aston Scott, is just one example. There is always the risk that if a commercial broker does not do health and they send the client to another firm, then they could put the whole account at risk.”

He adds as an alternative, Axa PPP also offers a “pass” service where a broker can pass on the details of a client seeking health insurance and if they take out cover, the insurer provides all the servicing, but the broker continues to earn commission.

International concerns

International private medical insurance is even more daunting and means brokers will need to call on a professional. Michelle Elmore, head of international healthcare business development at Collinson Group, insists if a company is sending one or more employees to work abroad, advice should be taken at the outset. 

“A short visit may mean travel insurance will provide some cover, but any employees that are staying need the right plan for where they are located. Facilities vary enormously and a specialist will have benchmarked cover according to the region.” 

She adds protection should also include readily accessible assistance services, in case repatriation is necessary.

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