Managing Risk with Insurance
Let’s all be honest, who actually reads their insurance policy? Most likely, very few of us. Those in the equine industry are oftentimes too busy to review and understand their horse’s medical and mortality policy, their equine business insurance policy, their equestrian facility’s commercial liability insurance policy, or their professional malpractice coverage.
Whether you are an individual horse owner, a traveling clinician, a trainer operating out of someone else’s farm, or a boarding facility owner, the time to know what is covered under your policy is not when you need to make a claim.
Whether you are obtaining a new policy or reviewing an existing policy, continue reading for some helpful tips and points to consider.
Equine Professionals & Commercial Liability Policies
Read your policy, understand your coverage.
Many farm owners, managers, and trainers with commercial general liability policies believe they are covered not only for human injuries that occur on their property, but equine injuries as well. Unfortunately, however, many such policies have an EXCLUSION to coverage for “another person’s property”. And, since legally speaking, horses are considered property, many equine professionals have been unpleasantly surprised when they look to their commercial general liability provider for a claim involving an injury to a horse and are ultimately denied coverage.
Many commercial general liability policies may also contain a “practicing” or “participating” exclusion. This may include language within the policy such as: “this insurance does not apply to any person while practicing for or participating in any sports or athletic competition or exhibition that you sponsor”.
Such an exclusion was applied in a case where a facility owner had replaced portions of the arena fence with sawhorses after being damaged. The facility owner looked to its insurance provider for coverage when a rider was injured after her horse ran through the makeshift fence. The facility was denied coverage because of the policy’s “participant” exclusion since the injured girl was participating in a schooling show hosted by the facility at the time of her injury.
Property Owners Providing Equine Services
Don’t rely on your homeowner’s policy for coverage.
Many equine professionals providing board, training, or instruction at their home/private farm rely on their homeowner’s policy for coverage. Providing boarding services, training, or lessons to clients in exchange for fees, however, will likely trigger your homeowner insurance policy’s “business pursuits exception”. This exclusion may allow your insurance provider to deny coverage in instances where a client is at your farm for a business purpose rather than because of a personal relationship.
Facility Owners Hosting Equine Clinicians
Make sure you are covered.
Oftentimes, farm owners who allow clinicians or outside instructors to provide services at their facility will request that the clinician/instructor add the property owner as an “additional insured” to the clinician’s policy. Only later realizing that a particular incident or injury falls outside the scope of the clinician’s coverage or the clinician’s coverage limit is simply too low.
Farm Owners Hosting Shows/Events
Understand the difference between spectators and participants.
Many times, property owners who host shows or events at their facilities will purchase a single day or weekend event policy, not realizing that many of these policies only cover the facility for injuries to spectators and not claims brought by participants. Many facility owners also do not realize that these policies won’t typically extend to injuries to horses kept on the property overnight.
Equine Professionals Traveling to Outside Facilities
Make sure your coverage travels with you.
Clinicians, trainers, and instructors who travel to outside facilities to provide services often assume that the property owner’s insurance policy will cover them for injuries that arise while giving instruction at the facility. Only later realizing that the property owner’s policy does not extend to “instruction, clinics, or events”.
Also, many equine professionals that provide services at their own facility and have purchased equine professional liability insurance assume their policy travels with them should they provide services at other locations, only to later realize that their policy does not cover “instruction given outside clinician’s/instructor’s regular location”.
Executing an Indemnity Agreement
Make sure you are protected.
Sometimes, instructors, trainers, and clinicians will enter into an indemnity agreement with property or facility owners. This occurs when the property owner agrees to “hold the Clinician harmless” in case of an injury during a lesson or clinic. Only later realizing that the facility owner’s policy has an exclusion to coverage for “liabilities assumed in a contract”.
Deciding if You Need Legal Assistance
Having an attorney review and interpret your policy’s language can save time, money, and anguish when an event occurs which requires you to make an insurance claim. We can offer guidance on whether your insurance policy properly covers your equine business pursuits, as well as with litigation support in the event your insurance provider has denied a claim.
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