Do Horses Need Liability Insurance? Hmmm… Could Be
(Does Your Horse Drive? What Kind of Question is That?)

Horse owners are often concerned that their horse can cause property damage or an injury to a third party (Whether they drive or not ). This risk poses a financial threat to horse owners because even trained horses can have unpredictable behavior when frightened. This could result in the owner of the horse being sued for damages and injuries.

Whether you are boarding your horse on someone else’s property or you run your own Equine Custody, Care, and Control Business, you need to have the right horse insurance in case something unpredictable happens. You can put your mind at ease when you have a liability insurance policy that will protect you against finical loss if your horse injures someone else or causes property damage.

Insurance For Horse People: Liability Insurance Isn’t Just For The Professionals

Liability Insurance for HorsesYou double-check to make sure the stall doors are latched tight, you top off water buckets, and you pick rocks out of your ring. You attend to every last detail when you’re protecting your horses from harm, but what are you doing to protect yourself?

Accidents happen, and—as every horse owner knows—they seem to happen more frequently when there’s an equine around. That’s why getting a liability insurance policy just makes good sense. Whether you’re running a large lesson and show facility, or you just board a few horses on your farm for other owners, it’s essential to protect yourself from a lawsuit.

“In general, if you have more than three or four horses that you yourself own and ride for pleasure, a regular home-owners insurance policy isn’t going to cover it, even if you keep them at your home,” said Debi DeTurk Peloso, a horse insurance specialist with the Markel Insurance Company.

Covering your activities with a general liability insurance policy is a good idea, and if you run any kind of business—such as boarding, teaching, or training—you should look into a commercial general liability policy. Either general liability policy protects the named insured (the person holding the policy) against bodily injury and property damage lawsuits arising out of the operation they have declared, whether it be pleasure riding, boarding, training or teaching. That coverage follows the named insured parties wherever they go, not just on the property where the business is run. So, if you’re teaching at a show away from home, your general liability policy covers you.

If you’re a professional trainer and you’re running a boarding and training business out of a rented farm you don’t own, you should have a commercial general liability policy that protects you, as the primary named insured, and the landowners, as additional insured parties named on the policy.

“The named insured is responsible for paying the bills, but let’s say a lawsuit was brought after a student falls during a lesson, and the person sues not only the person operating the business and giving the lesson, but also the landowner. Then the policy would respond for both if the landowner was named as an additional insured individual on the policy,” Peloso said.

In general, the insurance company holding your general liability policy needs to know what activities are taking place, i.e., a small boarding operation or a busy lesson program. Read more here

Before buying a Horse Owner’s Liability Policy, you should determine if you are already insured for horse liability. Keep in mind that even if your horse is not used commercially, you may find that some Homeowners or Farm Owners Insurers exclude horses from coverage or may have a limit on the number that can be insured. 

Commercial General Liability Horse Insurance: Who Needs It and Why?

If you run a business involving horses, whether it is training and boarding, offering riding lessons, or performing farrier work, you need commercial equine liability insurance as part of your insurance risk-management plan. Sometimes referred to as general liability or just liability, it is a protection that covers you and/or your business in the event there is personal injury, bodily injury, or property damage to others by you, your horse, or the premises for your operations. Having liability insurance in place, backed by a commercial insurance carrier that understands the equine business, will help you be protected in the event of a loss.

Why do I need commercial equine liability coverage?

Horses are large animals, and due to their size, natural instincts, and the attractive qualities that draw people in, horses can create an opportunity for injury. There are many risk management tools that can be used to reduce your loss exposures. Having adequate rules and waivers and reviewing your state’s equine liability statue will help in preventing losses. However, accidents happen. Even if you are not found to be negligent in any way and you have no liability for the loss, you will still need the defense cost to pay an attorney to present your case. General liability, or commercial equine liability insurance, offers payment of defense costs when potentially covered allegations are made.

Should you have insurance coverage if a horse you do not own is in your care?

If you work with horses you do not own, you should have care, custody, and control coverage.

The intent of care, custody, and control insurance is to provide coverage for individuals who board, train, breed, or are legally responsible for horses they do not own. You have a responsibility to provide adequate care to these horses, including a safe stable environment, feeding practice, and riding facility, and even having proper safety guidelines and emergency procedures. Should the unthinkable occur, this coverage will pay on your behalf for the amount you are legally obligated to others for death, injury, or theft of non-owned horses in your care, custody, or control. 

Coverage for Care, Custody, or Control (CCC) is based on a value per horse. To make sure you have sufficient limits to cover the value of the horses you board, it is a good idea to have a statement of value on file with the boarding or training contract.

Many facilities include tack storage for their boarders.  A CCC policy can typically include some limited non-owned tack coverage.

Should borders be required to carry their own insurance?

Ideally, boarders would have their own horses covered for any urgent need for care, including horse mortality, major medical, surgical, and private horse owner liability insurance.

What about boarding contracts and waivers?

Having legal documents such as a boarding contract and waiver is a good business practice. Due to the varying nature of equine operations, and dependent on the judicial climate and equine state statutes, it is always advised you seek legal counsel to develop or review your business exposures and form language. Read here for more info

If you buy a valuable horse, you generally want mortality insurance on him, especially if you are still paying the horse off. For mortality insurance, you can’t just pick a figure for the amount of coverage you want. 

The question of insurance for horse owners pops up from time to time, and it’s a difficult one to answer, to be sure.  Insurance is never a bad idea, especially when it comes to a large animal like a horse that can create uncontrolled havoc on a particularly bad day, but how do you know if you’re already covered for your horse’s actions?  Well, it depends, in part, on where you anticipate your horse becoming a danger to someone, but it also depends on your existing insurance policies. 

Some Policies Can Cover Horse Liability

Horses that are kept at home all the time and never see the inside of horse trailers are often covered by your homeowners or farm insurance policy.  There are limits on how many horses you can own and what you’re doing with them, though, depending on which policy you have in effect.

Homeowners policies may cover horse liability when the horse is only used by you or your family and friends, in a way that is strictly recreational.  This means that the horse can’t be used in any way that might create commercial value, such as breeding or professional competition.  Your homeowners policy usually cover your horse’s misadventures should they end up causing an auto accident on a road adjacent to your property, but if you take your horse on the road and he gets loose when you flip your bumper pull horse trailer, your insurance won’t pay for the cars he kicked in his panic.  These policies also typically limit the number of horses you can own.

Farmowners policies are somewhat more flexible, though they still won’t cover your horse on trips to shows or friendly competitions.  If, however, you want to use your horse for breeding, give riding lessons or board a few neighbor horses, you can add a rider to your base package to cover horse accidents with visitors to your farm-based horse business.  Speak to your insurance agent in detail and read your policy carefully before you assume your horse is covered under your farm policy, though — it can be a very costly assumption if you’re wrong.

Private Horse Owner Liability Policies

If you board your horse, you probably already have a private horse owner liability policy in place, since the vast majority of boarding facilities require this sort of coverage before they’ll accept a horse.  These policies cover your horse’s antics no matter where they maybe — you can think of it as a policy that’s attached to your horse instead of to your home or farm.  If you plan to take your horse on trail rides or off to visit friends, a private horse owner liability policy is definitely recommended before you load him up.

These policies are great for people who rent or have no on-site facilities for their horses and must board them elsewhere.  The catch is that your horse must be considered a hobby — he can’t be used for income-generation if the private horse owner liability policy is going to cover your horse biting a kid at his next local horse show.  It’ll also cover your horse’s antisocial behavior if you were to have an accident while pulling your slant load horse trailer and he was freed on the highway. Read the full article here

So Your Horse Might Need Insurance

When your horse gets loose and decides to run off your property, you will be thankful that you have horse liability insurance.  Unpredictable events occur often in the horse industry and insurance is a way to protect your assets while also having peace of mind. If a lawsuit were to fall within your insurance policy, the insurance company would pay for the claim or settlement.