Insure Your Pony Ride Services for Liability

Pony Ride operators provide a wonderful service that is fun for children and parents, and enjoyable for operators who love children and ponies. Many people eventually become avid horsemen and horse owners, in part, because of that safe, enjoyable early ride on a pony. But, it is serious business too, due to the facts that ponies are not totally predictable, pony rides are usually given at different public locations, and young children are the riders and their behavior can also be unpredictable. Both safety and enjoyment are priorities for people, as is the health and welfare of the ponies. Pony rides are either individually hand-led inside a fenced enclosure, or four to eight ponies are tethered to and led on a mechanical sweep or carousel device inside a fenced enclosure.

You worry that you may be sued or otherwise have a claim made against you for bodily injury or property damage by a customer, guest or someone else who comes in contact with you or the property that is part of your commercial horse operations. If sued, you will need to hire a lawyer to defend you and you wonder how you would go about doing this. If found negligent or responsible, you would likely have to pay  either a court-ordered or agreed-upon settlement to the injured party. Fortunately, much concern can be relieved when you buy a Commercial General Liability Policy [GL] to insure your Pony Ride activities.

Commercial General Liability Insurance protects you from financial loss should a child rider, visitor, bystander, or a trespasser become injured [Bodily Injury] or their property is damaged [Property Damage] in relation to your operations, and they make a claim or file a law suit against you for damages.

How Risky is the Pony Ride Activity? High Risk.

Pony rides are particularly high risk because small, young, minor age children are the participants.  Also locations are often very public with lots of people traffic in urban areas.  This is all moderated when pony rides are well-managed and controlled.

Horse activities are reasonably safe compared to many other activities people participate in. Yet, horse-human activities do carry inherent risks. Accidents do happen when people at different stages of capability attempt to touch, handle, train, ride, drive and control large animals that are unpredictable even when well trained. And some horse-human accidents are serious. Even with the best of intentions and management practices anyone can have a claim made against them and be sued.

You Must Plan Ahead – A Five Pronged Strategy

No one wants someone to be injured on or in relation to their property or business operations. No one plans to have an accident that results in a liability claim they are responsible for. Yet, you still must plan against and for an accident, and there is a five-pronged strategy you should follow:

  1. Accident Avoidance is the first strategy. This is best accomplished by implementing a thoughtful operational risk reduction plan that provides a reasonably safe physical environment and procedures for horses and people. All staff members should be trained in those practices. [NAHA Risk Reduction Programs can assist you.]
  2. Emergency Procedure Planning is the second strategy, and it can be important to minimize the severity of an accident and provide proper care at the time.
  3. The third strategy is to use well-worded Warning and Release of Liability Agreements. [NAHA can provide contract models for you to evaluate and use.] Have them completed and signed completely and correctly by all participants. Keep the signed forms on file and safely stored for several years as suggested by an attorney in your state.
  4. The fourth strategy is to carefully review and comply with your state’s Equine Activities Immunities Law, if your state has one. All states have some form of the law except California, New York, Maryland, and Nevada. Some require special wording in warning and release agreements, and some require posting of specific warning signs on your property.
  5. Purchase an Equine Liability Insurance Policy that adequately covers and lists all of your specific activities in the policy. The policy should be placed with an A rated domestic insurance company having a good reputation for service, knowledge of equine risk, and for handling equine liability claims. Be wary of low pricing, as generally a low price means something important is missing in the policy or the Insurer may not understand how to price equine exposure. This important fifth strategy can protect you and your business from financial loss should an accident happen. It helps fulfill the sense of responsibility you have about serving the public, but it provides more than peace of mind. In event of a covered claim, the Insurer provides legal defense and pays for defense costs. It pays for claims costs and settlements made against you up to the limits of your policy. Just as important is the fact that knowledgeable professionals will handle and manage the details of your claim in a way that looks after your claim and litigation interests, so that you can continue functioning with the least amount of “hassle.”

Equine Activities Immunities Laws have been passed in 46 states. While these laws may help you avoid liability, they will not usually thwart a determined injured party from pursuing a claim or law suit. This is because to receive immunity under the law, the activity sponsor must have performed in a specific way according to what the law requires. And often immunity is determined through some type of expensive legal proceeding that can result in a large, often uncontrolled expense to an uninsured stable owner. You still need to be properly insured for liability.

Related Coverages To Consider

If You Rent the Property You Occupy, We Can Also Insure Your Tack, Equipment, and Machinery for Loss or Damage

As a stable property renter, you may not have access to property insurance for tack, equipment and machinery you use in your business. Ark Agency can insure these items by adding a Property Coverage Endorsement to the General Liability Policy. Additional premium is charged for this endorsement and the items and values must be declared in the application process.

General Liability Coverage & Limits

The General Liability Policy includes specified maximum limits or amounts of liability insurance for:

Medical Expense: Pays for low cost medical expense with no questions asked about your liability or responsibility in the matter.

Legal Defense Costs: Today court costs and hiring of a lawyer can quickly mount to $50,000 or more, an expense you do not want to come out of your pocket if you are sued and have to hire a lawyer.  If sued in relation to this activity,       the policy provides legal defense whether the case has merit or not.

Settlement or Claim Costs: For bodily injury and property damages for which you are responsible and held negligent and liable.

The four most common claim incidents for Pony Ride Operations are:

1. A child rider falls or jumps from a pony and is injured while taking a ride.

2. A child or adult bystander is injured while watching, tripping over or falling from a  gate component, or when trying to get near the ponies or children.

3. A pony gets loose while at a public location. It may cause damage to lawns and gardens, get hit by or crash into a car, charge into people, or though a window because it is afraid.

4. Someone deliberately tries to scare a pony, causing it to react and behave in an unsafe way.

Where to Begin

Your insurance needs are unique, therefore we believe in person to person service. Call or e-mail an Ark Agency Representative for an estimated premium, policy and company details, and qualification requirements. We work with several insurance companies and rates and coverage conditions vary. We will help you determine which application to use and advise on how to put insurance in force.

*General information is provided on this insurance topic. Acting on our coverage recommendations does not guarantee coverage if you have a loss or claim.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Nicole Eller-Medina. Avid horsewoman, wonderful, caring equine veterinarian, personally engaged in Minnesota horse rescues, Nicole is the owner of Siete Leguas Equine Veterinary Services, Cold Spring, MN. Thank you Nicole for all you do! ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago