Understanding Animal Mortality Insurance: Protection for Livestock Owners

Animal death is an unfortunate, yet expected, reality in the world of livestock and animal management. All animals have an average lifespan, and livestock owners take that into account when considering their operational costs. However, accidental or unexpected deaths — those not caused by old age — can be devastating to a farm or ranch operation’s bottom line. 

For instance, let’s say a severe storm kills 20 beef cattle that would have sold for $3,000 a head at auction. At that rate, the cattle owner would be out $60,000 from just one storm. Or, let’s say a highly contagious horse illness kills five prized show horses. If the value of each horse ranged  from $30,000 to $40,000, the losses could total $200,000 — not to mention the loss of future revenue from not being able to compete with those horses. 

In circumstances like these, animal mortality insurance steps in to offer financial protection and mitigate losses. It provides significant financial security for businesses that depend on animals for their livelihood. From dairy animals to pedigree cattle, animal mortality insurance offers a safety net in the event of unexpected loss.

What Is Animal Mortality Insurance?

Most standard farmers’ insurance plans do not provide coverage for unexpected animal deaths. Animal mortality insurance fills this gap, offering livestock owners financial protection in the event that an animal or — worst case — an entire herd is killed. With animal mortality insurance, farmers can safeguard their investments and livelihoods, ensuring that they are not faced with significant financial burdens in the event of an unfortunate incident.

Animal mortality insurance can extend to a wide variety of animals, including: cows, pigs, chickens, horses, sheep, goats, and llamas, as well as rare and exotic breeds of animals. Livestock owners can choose to take out policies that offer blanket protection for all animals (an entire farm, for instance), herd coverage for a specific group of animals (like a flock of sheep), or individual coverage to protect high-value animals (like a bull kept for breeding). 

Coverage can vary depending on the policy and type of animals insured. In general, however, policies typically protect against a range of perils, including:

  • Accidents, like if an animal runs into an electric fence or is killed while being transported from one facility to another
  • Illnesses, such as colic
  • Predator attacks, such as by a dog, coyote, or bobcat
  • Natural disasters, like a lightning strike or severe snow storm 
  • Injuries that require euthanization

After an animal’s death, the policyholder can receive payment for the value of the animal. How that value is calculated can depend on the animal and their importance to the insured’s business, depending on factors like current market value and projected loss of future income.

Who Needs Animal Mortality Insurance?

Farmers, ranchers, and any other business whose profitability is tied to their animals should consider animal mortality insurance. For livestock farmers, the death of a significant number of animals can pose a serious financial risk. Similarly, owners of high-value animals, such as breeding sires or pedigree cattle, may find this type of insurance necessary to protect their investment.

Factors That Impact Insurance Rates 

Livestock owners can customize policies to fit their unique situations, risks, and needs. As a result, rates can vary from policy to policy. When determining rates, insurance providers may consider a range of factors, including animal type and breed, age, health and condition, geographic location, the purpose for which it is used, and more. A wagyu beef cow, for example, is likely to attract a higher premium than a Jersey dairy cow, because a wagyu cow is more expensive to replace. Similarly, an older animal may also be more expensive to insure.

Policy reductions may be available for things like improving animal healthcare, maintaining proper breeding programs, and managing risks to reduce the likelihood of death.

Common Policy Exclusions 

While animal mortality insurance can provide broad coverage, it’s critical for insureds to fully understand policy limitations. Animal mortality coverage typically does not extend to the following situations:

  • Death due to pre-existing conditions not disclosed at the time of the policy was written
  • Intentional acts of harm by the animal’s owner 
  • Death due to natural causes or old age
  • Deaths during specific high-risk activities as noted in the policy 
  • Certain types of diseases or natural disasters 


Beyond financial protection, animal mortality insurance offers peace of mind to owners of livestock and other high-value animals. With proper insurance in place, they can rest easy knowing that their animals are protected and their investments are secure.

Navigating the complexity of livestock insurance can be daunting, which is why it’s vital to work with insurance professionals who specialize in these lines of coverage. Understanding the ins and outs of such a policy — including who it’s designed for, the factors affecting rates, and common exclusions — is crucial to ensuring you’re getting the right coverage and the best price. MiniCo’s Animal Mortality program team has extensive experience insuring the agribusiness industry including animal mortality coverage. We understand the current agribusiness trends and unique challenges livestock owners face when it comes to the health and safety of their animals. Whether you’re looking for animal mortality insurance or coverage for farm and ranch or commercial agri risks, our program teams can provide the solutions you need. Our niche expertise and claims experience streamline the coverage process, giving insureds the protection they need — quickly and without hassle. Contact MiniCo today for a quote.

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