Horse Instruction, Coaching and Training Services for Liability

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There are many levels to instruction, coaching and training. You may specialize in teaching novices how to ride and handle horses. You may work with advanced riders and horses to prepare them for high level competition.  You may teach people how to instruct students and train horses.  Teaching students and training horses are usually crossover activities even for those who claim to offer one or the other. At some point, an instructor will get on a horse to assess its behavior, responsiveness, and perhaps try to correct it.  At some point, a trainer will instruct the owner how to ride the horse.  Both may coach riders and handlers at shows and events.  Perhaps the greatest concern for instructors, coaches and trainers is the potential for an accident to happen that causes injury to a student, bystander, or horse.  You worry that you may be sued or otherwise have a claim made against you for bodily injury or property damage.  If sued, you may need to hire a lawyer to defend yourself.  If found negligent, you would likely be responsible for the cost of the claim. Instructors, Coaches and Trainers have a strong need to be insured for their activities and exposures to liability.  This is because your business services are fairly high risk and provided in a unique way. At Ark Agency, we provide high quality horse insurance plans for owners, trainers, etc. to ensure you and your business’ protection.

The level of liability risk is fairly high because students and horse owners can become injured while learning new skills and handling different horses.  The exposure is greater if the instructor is providing a lesson horse or teaching someone to ride or drive a horse at an early stage of training.  The uniqueness comes from several factors.  You likely perform some or all instruction and training services both at and away from your business location, sometimes in unfamiliar facilities and environments.  Instructors may borrow or “rent” a school horse for hourly use in exchange for a fee, lessons, or board.  So you should be concerned for your financial protection and responsibilities toward those you serve. Fortunately much concern can be relieved when you buy a COMMERCIAL GENERAL LIABILITY POLICY [GL] to insure your instruction, coaching and training activities.

If you are an Independent Instructor – Trainer who operates at various stables you do not own, go to Independent Contractor Horse Riding Instructor – Trainer Liability Insurance page on this site for more information.

Related Liability Exposures to Consider

Qualified Instructors and Trainers also have a Professional Liability exposure.  The more you know and the more you present yourself to the public as an expert, the higher your Professional Liability exposure will be.  Most insurers do not provide this important coverage, but we are able to provide Professional Liability Insurance on your general liability policy by endorsement, and there is a separate nominal premium charge for it.

Horse trainers also have a Care, Custody & Control Liability exposure.  This is because a horse in training may become injured or sick while in the trainer’s care. The trainer could be held liable for related expenses, and be required to pay for the horse if it dies. Instructors who teach on non-owned school horses they borrow may have this exposure too.  We are able to offer this coverage by endorsement on your GL policy, and will quote it to you if you complete the Care, Custody & Control section of the application.  This horse trainer insurance coverage is optional and there is a separate nominal premium charge for it. Note that non-owned horses cannot be covered this way if they are leased by you. When you lease a horse you become its temporary owner and this situation requires the horse to be insured for loss and injury by a Horse Mortality and Major Medical Insurance Policy.

If You Rent the Property Your Business Occupies, 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.

How Risky is Horse Instruction, Coaching, and Training? Moderately High.

Horse activities are reasonably safe compared to many other activities people participate in.  Yet, horse-human activities do have 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.

General Liability Coverage & Limits

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

Medical Expense: Pays for a claimant’s low cost medical expense with few questions asked about your liability, responsibility or connection 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 the insured activity, the  policy provides legal defense whether the case has merit or not.

Settlement or Claims Costs: Pays bodily injury and property damage claims for which you are held responsible.

The most common claim incidents for Horse Instruction, Coaching and Training:

1. A student rider or handler becomes injured during or in relation to instruction.  The greatest potential hazard lies in the fact that the student needs to progress in their learning, but to do so they must take moderate chances and perform in ways they’ve not done before.  Trainers can have the same thing occur when trying to teach someone how to handle or ride a horse they are training.  Students sometimes simply lose their balance and fall or will just bail off the horse. They often fail to apply proper cues to control or guide the horse – some may be too harsh and hurt the horse and the horse reacts in a way that is unsafe for the handler.  While on the ground, a student can be bitten, kicked, bumped, dragged, fallen on, or stepped on. Incidents often occur during a gait transition, or when jumping, or maneuvering over obstacles.   A horse can “spook” and react at any time and from any distraction, depending upon the animal’s mood of the moment and stimulating factors that may arise. It can take time for a student to gain balance, a secure seat, good horse handling instincts, and confidence. To protect themselves when frightened or in pain, a horse will often run forward, stop suddenly, jump sideways, kick out, rear up, buck or crow hop. Common human injuries are soft tissue, broken arm, injured tail bone or back, bruised or broken ribs, shoulder, and sometimes head injury.

2. Horses in training become injured or may even die while in the trainer’s care, custody or control.  Horses can become injured during the training process when challenged to learn something new, and when handled and integrated into a strange environments.  Borrowed school horses can be injured while the instructor is preparing for or teaching a lesson. A student’s horse can become injured when the instructor rides it for behavior and gait assessment or correction purposes.

3. A horse gets away from the trainer or instructor at a show, runs into the road and is hit by a car.  The horse must usually be destroyed, while property damage to the car and bodily injuries to passengers can result in a sizeable multiple claims from just one incident.

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 for our horse insurance.  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 horse 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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