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If you own a horse, do you really need to have equine liability insurance?
This is a contested question in the equestrian world, and today we’re breaking down:
First and foremost, when it comes to “equine insurance” we’re usually talking broadly about one of four types of insurance:
Your insurance provider will be able to map out exactly what equine insurance options are available for you. When thinking of equine insurance, the question comes down to what, as a horse owner, you’re willing or able to pay for when it comes to accidents (medical or otherwise). At the end of the day, horse owners should always be prepared for the unexpected.
Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that your horse will get hurt or sick. If you have an expensive health emergency on your hands, such as a colic episode, you’ll want insurance coverage. As we all know, injuries can get expensive quickly, and insurance companies who deal primarily with equestrians have the experience to know exactly what coverage horse owners need.
For example, when I was young, my first pony encountered a trailer full of fescue grass clippings. I’m sure to him it looked like a giant cake just waiting to be eaten. As you can imagine, he colicked quickly and severely and had to spend weeks in an equine hospital. Miraculously, he survived, and thankfully, my parents had the foresight to have insurance to help cover the episode.
Do you have a highly valuable horse you can’t afford to replace? Like a show horse, for example? Consider equine mortality insurance or equine loss of use insurance. Can you afford colic surgery, as I mentioned in my story above? Equine major medical insurance may quite literally save the day.
As a side note, consider joining United States Equestrian Federation – for a nominal fee, your membership includes a free equine liability insurance policy which could be useful if you board your horse.
If you use horses in any commercial capacity, you’ll want some level of Commercial Equine Liability insurance to protect you against third-party lawsuits. For example, if you are a trainer, you want to be protected if you get sued by a student who gets injured in a class.
What type of liability do you have if you are simply caring for horses you don’t own, such as boarding horses on your property? You don’t want to be in a position where you have to front all of the legal fees if a horse owner sues you when their horse gets sick or injured and claims you were negligent. Care, Custody and Control insurance would be a good option in that type of situation.
Finally there is Private Equine Liability insurance. I’d argue this is the most important type of equine insurance any horse owner who keeps horses on their property can have. Here’s why: imagine you keep your horse on your property, and someone tresspasses onto your property to pet your horse and gets kicked in the process. Yes, they broke the law by trespassing….but under the law, you still have liability for any injury your horse may cause.
This is particularly important when it comes to children. Horses can be considered “attractive nuisances” in US tort law, meaning even if you’ve done everything you can to secure your property (gates, signs, etc), a court will be inclined to side against you on a negligence claim if a child were to climb the fence and hurt himself. In that type of situation, having an insurance policy can be a saving grace.
Simply put, equine insurance is important in the eyes of the law because equine liability extends further than just the horse.
In other words, there are times when, as a horse owner, you can do all the right things, and still have legal liability. For example, say that you have all of the proper fencing in place, you even have a proper warning sign in place, but a child walks by your horse’s paddock, thinks the horse is pretty, crawls under the fence to pet him, and gets stepped on.
Would you be able to pay the legal fees if the child’s parents took action?
Going back to the example of the child who climbed under the fence to pet your horse. Even if you haven’t actually done anything wrong, are you prepared to pay thousands of dollars to a lawyer to defend you? Once again, having a proper equine insurance policy in place can be a lifesaver in providing a defense.
Here are the questions you really need to ask yourself:
Obviously, there are plenty of “what if ” scenarios that could come up. The point is, if you own a horse and find yourself in any sort of legal dispute, having an insurance policy in place can make an incredible difference in what an accident costs you.
We want to set the record straight. Below are the misconceptions we commonly hear about equine insurance:
To summarize, yes, it is highly recommended that every horse owner have some sort of equine liability insurance.
Again, it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected, and equine liability insurance can go as far as providing a legal defense and covering legal fees if you do ever find yourself in hot water.
Talk to a financial advisor or insurance advisor to find the best policy for you. I’ve used Connaway & Associates for more than 20 years. I am not an affiliate and receive no compensation for sharing their information, but they have been lovely to work with and have provided such peace of mind over the years!
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