Every year you write the check to your insurance agent, fully expecting that you're covered for liabilities arising from your horse-related activities. But what if a claim or lawsuit is brought against you, and, to your surprise, you discover that you’re not covered for it?
Here are some equine liability insurance coverage surprises that people have experienced over the years. With careful planning, you can make sure that they never happen to you.
Most businesses in the equine industry are small businesses. For example, some people give riding lessons on weekends to earn a few extra dollars, and barn owners sometimes board a small number of horses to help fill stalls and pay the bills. These business operators might assume that the small scale of their activities makes business insurance unnecessary, and they might further assume that their standard homeowner’s liability insurance coverage will extend to their business activities. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Homeowner's insurance is not business insurance. In fact, homeowner’s insurance policies almost always exclude coverage when someone is injured in connection with a “business pursuit.” By comparison, commercial general liability insurance policies and equine professional insurance policies are designed to cover business-related risks. Small business owners can discuss appropriate business-related coverage with their insurance agents.
INJURIES TO HORSES IN YOUR CARE, CUSTODY, OR CONTROL
Even if a boarding stable protects itself by purchasing commercial general liability insurance, it might still be uninsured against a foreseeable risk – the risk of a horse becoming injured (or worse) at the stable. Why? Liability insurance policies typically exclude coverage for claims involving damage to or loss of personal property belonging to others in the stable’s care, custody, or control. In the eyes of the law, horses qualify as “personal property.”
By comparison, equine insurance companies offer extra insurance to fill this coverage gap. For additional cost (depending on the type and extent of coverage you buy), insurers will sell specialized coverage commonly known as a “care, custody, or control” endorsement to add to a stable’s existing commercial liability insurance policy. This endorsement offers coverage for claims against the stable involving injury or damage to boarded horses.
COVERAGE FOR INJURED WORKERS
For equine business operators who have employees, commercial general liability insurance is rarely enough, especially because these policies often have "employee exclusions," which prevent coverage for claims brought by injured employees.
Equine business operators too often jump to conclusions and wrongly assume that their workers are "independent contractors," not employees, and that that they need no worker’s compensation insurance. That can be a costly mistake. As a matter of law, "independent contractors" might very well be employees, and the equine business could find itself with no coverage against an injured worker’s claim. Make no assumptions; secure knowledgeable advice based on your situation. In the past, this blog has discussed liabilities involving "independent contractors."