Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Matter Of Insurance

Some of the topics we have covered here allude to necessary insurance, but now we'll get into detail. First there are a few imperative questions to ask yourself.What sort of coverage do you need? Are you operating (or thinking about operating) a public equestrian facility? Are you or will you be offering professional services?

For the average horse owner keeping your personal equines at home, all that's really needed is a basic farm and ranch rider added to your homeowners policy, plus any additional insurance you want for your horses themselves. From mortality to major medical to surgical, or some combination of the above, they're pretty self-explanatory.

Mortality insurance for horses, of course, protects the owner's investment in the event of the horse's death. Most accidental causes of death are covered, as is loss caused by illness or injury. As a rule, there is an age limit of animals eligible for such insurance, plus some excluded pre-existing conditions. Most of the time a veterinary exam is indicated in order to purchase a mortality policy with your vet's signature on the application generally considered mandatory. For higher insured amounts you will usually be asked to justify why the horse should be covered for so much, such as a show or breeding record for a horse you'd like to unsure for $5-$10k and above.

Major Medical insurance covers most serious illnesses and injuries, and in some cases there is a deductible. Again, pre-existing conditions may prohibit your horse from being eligible for benefits, as well as age, however it's an invaluable resource for your younger, healthy horses.

Equally worthwhile is Surgical insurance for essentially the same reasons as major medical, though (as the name suggests) it pertains to surgery. Impaction colics, impassable enteroliths, tendon repair and any of a multitude of potentially necessary procedures are covered, once again as long as your horse meets the criteria.

If you offer boarding services to outside clients, with or without training included, Care, Custody and Control coverage is a must. This protects you in relation to all outside horses on your property and offers added benefits by insuring you against claims of damage or injury to the horses in your care. Also, as a rule if any action is brought against you as a result of a covered loss, your CCC policy will also require your insurance company to defend you. Definitely worth having.

For any trainers of riding instructors, or if you are one yourself, trainer's liability, instructor's liability or both are also mandatory with a $1 million aggregate limit, naming the owner of the facility as an additional insured. These policies protect you (both the professional and the facility owner) against claims of injury relating to the training and horsemanship/riding lesson portion of your business, as long as such claims are not due to negligence.

During my long career, which spans three decades, I've been fortunate enough to have never had a claim against me ~ knock on wood! ~ though having the piece of mind in knowing you're covered goes a long way toward being able to concentrate on business instead of extraneous matters like liability.



  1. For some reason -- probably expense of the premium -- liability insurance over and above the basics provided by the homeowners policy is something that most people with horses at home do not bother with. I would also suspect that many public boarding facilities don't have much liability insurance, either.

    That said, your advice is good for all kinds of insurance, especially the liability insurance for trainers and instructors. In my experience there is a greater chance for accidents to happen when someone is training or instructing a horse or rider.

    It is, literally and figuratively, the nature of the beast. Anyone can hang a shingle proclaiming him/herself a "horse trainer/riding instructor." Before riding or training with them, making certain you and your horse are protected is paramount.

    Another good column!

  2. Thanks again! (blushing) Means a lot coming from someone who works in the "biz" as a journalist!! Those days are well into my past, now I get my fill of flexing my writing muscle right here. :)

    I do find it unfortunate that we have such a problem here in California getting an equine limited liability law. Not that it would make a great deal of difference in what went as far as the courts because of the sue-happy mentality that seems to pervade society, but it might eventually help keep premiums a little bit more manageable. We can hope!


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