Do I need horse insurance ?
A pony or horse is a large financial investment and it's important to have the proper insurance in place should anything bad happen.
After the decision by the House of Lords in Mirvahedy Vs. Henley in 2003, you can be held liable for damages or any injury caused by your horse, regardless of whether or not your acts or your omissions were the cause. So, if your horse should escape from a well fenced field and it causes a road traffic accident or if it kicks out at someone, you could find yourself faced with a claim.
To take responsibility for a horse is a big decision. It is both an exciting time and a great feeling when you are able to find the perfect horse that you can spend many years with. This decision can be less than satisfying should the wrong choices are made
When you buy a horse it is a big commitment, in both time and money. Fact is that owning a horse is a twenty four hours a day, seven day a week commitment and you should to be sure that you do indeed have the necessary budget, not just for the actual purchase but the horse insurance and the on-going upkeep as well.
Some folks might be tempted to protect their private yard with insurance that’s cheap. But the whole point of spending your money on a premium is so that you know your cover is going to take care of you financially if you are hit by a disaster.
If you’ve not done the due diligence and rushed your insurance policy, there may be some exclusions in your schedule that you weren’t aware of and will only discover after your hay stock is decimated by a fire, have an expensive vehicle stolen, or some of your equipment damaged by heavy rainfall.
Are you at fault?
This is when having the right insurance policy in place for your land can make all the difference, whether you have just one field, or twenty five horses all in a large equestrian set up. If a person were to be injured by the horse in question, or they find their car is damaged by a falling branch while on your private road, then a land liability policy will cover the court costs that are incurred. Things like solicitor’s fees, and compensation that would have to be paid out if you should lose the case.
The proper insurance will protect you against claims that made against you and provide the compensation needed should an incident occur. An example of this would be injury or damage to another’s property whether or not you allow other people to use your land and its facilities.
In these times of economic uncertainty, making sure that you are financially covered by a suitable equine insurance policy in the event of injury, illness or theft is more important now than ever before for horse owners.
It's very important to remember that not all equine insurance is the same. Always be sure to compare the cover of several companies and never make a decision based on just price alone. In particular, vet fees is one area where cover can considerably vary, so be sure to check exactly what’s included. At what age will the policy will stop providing cover for your horse’s illness, whether or not all diagnostic work will be covered and if there is a flat or a percentage excess.
You will also need to take into account which activities are covered by the policy, since horse insurance companies typically will not pay out for incidents that may occur in the course of an activity for which a horse is not insured.
Horse insurance is also very important should you take a horse on loan and this should be included in the written agreement between you and the horse’s owner. Make sure that you are aware of exactly what insurance the owner has since this will help determine what horse insurance you need take out.
If it turns out that the horse is already insured, politely ask the owner to explain and confirm exactly what cover they have in place. Always important is to agree what should be done if the horse requires veterinary treatment. When these things are decided in advance it will help to make the situation far less stressful for both parties and prevent misunderstandings should anything unfortunate occur.
Also, you should find out if the owner has insurance cover for Personal Accident and Third Party Liability, and if they do, to what extent exactly would this cover you. There are some policies that will only cover named riders whilst there are others that cover anyone that rides and handles the horse that has the owner's permission.
Should there be no provision in the horse owner's policy for Personal Accident or Third Party Liability you should seriously consider taking out Rider insurance. This special type of insurance is designed specifically for people that ride but who don't own a horse or even have one on a permanent loan basis. There are some Rider insurance policies that provide cover for any emergency vet fees should the horse that you are riding be injured and need immediate treatment.
For those that run their own equestrian business, whether it big or small, understand that horses are dangerous animals and accidents can and will happen. Public Liability Insurance will cover you for any claim that is made against you by a member of the public, whether it be for personal injury or property damage. A few examples of the type of claims equestrian business owners can expect are customers that are injured while falling from a horse during a lesson, or neighbors who have had their gardens damaged by escaping ponies. Fact is that any claimant is going to have to prove that you were actually in some way responsible for the incident and you are therefore liable. Public Liability will also cover you for legal fees that are incurred when defending yourself against such a claim.