Equine Insurance News March 2018
5 Common Myths Among the Equine Community
- Myth #1: “I can’t be sued because my horse is kept at a boarding facility.”
- Truth: Your risk is the same no matter where your horse is — at a boarding facility, at the trainers, or even at a horseshow. For instance, if your horse gets loose and runs into the road causing an automobile accident resulting in property damage and injury to the driver, you as the horse owner and the boarding facility could both be brought into the suit. Your boarding facility or trainer’s policy does not cover your liability. Their coverage will defend them, not you. So it is important to have the proper liability coverage from your own farm policy or home owner’s insurance.
- Myth #2: “My agent says my liability for my horse is covered on my homeowners policy.”
- Truth: Most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover horse exposures, and if they do it is usually limited to only on premises. So make sure your agent knows an endorsement needs to be added to cover the liability for your horse, and that it includes off premises exposure if your horse ever leaves your ranch. Even if you just keep a couple horses in the back yard and ride on the weekends, make sure you have liability coverage for your horses on your homeowner’s policy. You never know when a child could hop your fence and be injured by a horse without you being aware; your fence breaks and your horse gets loose on the road and causes an automobile accident; your child has a friend over and is grooming the horses and the friend gets kicked causing severe injury. Protect yourself against these unforeseen but common accidents by having the proper liability coverage.
- Myth #3: “I don’t need insurance because my association basic membership provides insurance coverage.”
- Truth: Most of these memberships provide a limit per occurrence for “excess personal equine liability.” The word “excess” means it would pay out after your underlying policy does, for instance your homeowner’s policy. These memberships also provide no coverage for business or professional liability (ex. If you teach lessons, training, boarding, clinics, etc.).
- Myth #4: “I can’t be sued due to the Texas Equine Activity Liability Act (EALA).”
- Truth: An EALA is a state law that is intended to protect equine professionals (including trainers, instructors, sponsors, organizers, breeders, groups, clubs, stables, and riding facilities) from lawsuits for personal injuries arising out of the inherent risk of equine activities. Inherent risk includes the propensity of the horse to bite, kick, buck, etc., the unpredictable nature of the horse, hazards in the land, collisions with other animals or objects, and the potential of a rider to behave negligently. While helpful, EALAs do not provide absolute protection to equine professionals. Protection may not apply to claims involving faulty tack or equipment (ex. Providing helmets or improperly cinching a saddle), claims involving failure to determine a rider’s ability to match him with the appropriate horse, premises liability exposures, gross negligence, injury to minors, and failure to comply with sign posting and waiver/release provisions in EALA. EALAs can be dodged, and nothing prevents a lawsuit from being filed, but an insurance policy covering your business liability provides the invaluable benefit of a defense on your behalf to get a case dismissed.
- Myth #5: “My waiver/release is bulletproof.”
- Truth: : If drafted correctly, a waiver or release can afford some (but not absolute) protection. Many equine releases do fail in court cases for many reasons. Getting a signed waiver or release is just the first step to trying to protect yourself. Having the proper liability coverage for all exposures allows you to protect yourself and provides you with a defense.
A few Insurance Tips
- Post Texas Equine Activity Liability Act signs at your facility.
- Have your waivers/releases drafted by an attorney to insure proper wording that will hold up in court.
- Have proper insurance liability coverage for your equine facility and business. Whether you own a couple of horses or have a large equine operation. Make sure it includes off premises coverage.
Did you Know?
No person associated with this news letter receives any form of compensation for any products mentioned, nor should any mention of a particular product be considered an endorsement of that product. This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be considered authoritative on any topic. Please seek advice from an appropriate professional on any specific issue.