Insure Your Training & Teaching Instruction for Liability

horse training instruction insurance

If you are an expert who instructs trainers or instructors, or prospective trainers and instructors, how to improve their techniques and skills, you have a truly unique business that needs to be well insured.   You are a professional who trains professionals or would-be professionals, therefore it is your unique judgment and expertise that you are passing on to improve their professional skills.    The more you know and the more you present yourself to the public as an expert, the higher your Professional Liability Exposure will be.  You may be doing seminars and demonstrations or long term courses.  You may be providing a certificate to participants who complete your courses satisfactorily.  You may even be testing, ranking, and certifying them in their skills.  Therefore, you have two liability exposures to be concerned about.  The first is for General Liability and the second is Professional Liability.  The purchase of one without the other is not adequate for your protection.

Many Insurers do not offer Professional Liability Coverage, and some will only offer it without General Liability.  In reality, both coverages should be offered together by the same Insurance Company, and we are able to provide both under one liability policy.

Professional Liability Insurance does not take the place of general liability, but is complimentary to it.  Professional Liability Insurance does not provide important Premises & Operations liability coverage that General Liability Policy does. Therefore, professional liability is not offered as a stand-alone policy.  It is added to the general liability policy by endorsement for each qualified professional who is listed in the policy by name.  There is a separate premium charge for this important coverage.

General Liability Insurance for commercial equine operations protects you from financial loss should a client / customer become injured or their property is damaged in relation to your horse activities, and the damaged client attempts to hold you financially responsible for negligence.  Equine Professional Liability generally pays for those sums the insured professional becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of “bodily injury,” “property damage,” “personal injury,” “prize money losses” or loss of value of a horse to which coverage applies caused by a “professional incident.” A “professional incident” usually involves an improper professional judgment by the Insured when providing a service for which there is higher than average expectation of outcome according to the high qualifications of the professional.   While the GL section of the policy names the individual, partnership, trade name or corporation as the insured, the professional liability endorsement must state which individuals are insured as professionals for their line of work.

As a Professional Instructor to Instructors and Trainers, you worry that you may be sued or otherwise have a claim made against you. 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 for 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] with Professional Liability Coverage to insure your instruction activities.

How Risky Are Horse Rescue Operations? Moderately High.

It is the instructor’s expert status and issues pertaining to professional judgments that cause this type of training and teaching to be in a moderately high risk category. 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 Boarding Stable 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.  The items and values must be declared in the application process and additional premium is charged for this endorsement .

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 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. 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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