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Equine Insurance insights: Horses & Friends

Submitted by: Danielle Aamodt
Phone: 267-972-1491
Email Address: DanielleAamodt(at)gmail
Date Added: 2/7/2016

Horses & Friends: Regarding Liability

Something I love about the equestrian sport is the friendships we build around it. We help each other out at events, or even offer a ride to a friend who has never been around horses. Either way, its fun to share the experience. But how often do we think about the liability involved? (Lets face it... we usually dont! Thats just no fun)

If you are a horse person, then you know how dangerous they can be at times. No matter how careful you are, horses will be horses and situations are not always in your control. We all know the possibility is there, so what have you done to protect yourself from the What ifs?

You may think your Homeowners liability insurance is enough, but I caution you not to assume. Coverage depends on several variables: Who, What, When, Where... Equine liability is a very specialized type of coverage. (Some agents hear the word horse & go running for the hills!) If you're involved in competitions, ride or drive in parades, or train a friends horse, for example - it may change the situation.

I cant say this enough: KNOW the coverage you have & don't have.

Theres also a fine line between Commercial and Personal horse owner activities, whether you consider yourself a professional or not. Have a conversation with your agent and explain ALL of your activities, so they can provide the appropriate insurance coverage. Both Personal & Commercial equine liability policies are available on an individual basis if you need to get coverage in place. [Boarders: your boarding barns policy protects THEM, but wont protect you as the horse owner]

With horse showing in particular, the liability circumstances are not always black and white. If you have a liability policy, make sure you ask questions and understand your coverage. Third party liability is meant to protect you against the claims of a non-participating person, like the general public. So, a groom (hired or not) is not technically a third party.

(Disclaimer: Every policy and situation is different, so I am not speaking in absolutes)

Just be aware that a friend who you pay for the day to help is willingly participating in the activity, which is not what the coverage is meant to protect against. The same goes for someone who is taking lessons or trying a horse before purchasing; they are a willing participant in the equine activity.
That being said, liability policies are still there to protect YOU; so if a participant (or their health insurance company) sues you for negligence, most policies would respond to help you defend the case - as long as your agent was aware that you were involved with horses.

To avoid these types of legal situations, its a good idea for ANYONE that walks into your barn to sign your liability waiver. It may be an awkward conversation to have, but trust me it is MUCH more awkward after an accident. Its smart to take a moment and acknowledge that there is a risk involved with horses.

Now that I have scared you silly, dont let it stop you from enjoying your horses! Thats exactly why the insurance policies are available. Get out there & ride! Invite your friends! Just be sure you are prepared and educated about the coverage you purchase.



Danielle Aamodt has been an avid equestrian for 12 years, but caught the ‘horse bug' long before that. Her morgan mare, Indigo, is happily retired at age 23; Danielle grooms / navigates in the Combined Driving circuit for fun or participates in event organizing to stay involved.
Danielle represents Marshall & Sterling Insurance Agency as an Equine/Liability/Farm Insurance Agent.

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