Horse Massage and Equine Alternative Therapy Services

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If you provide Horse Massage & Equine Therapies Services you have an unusual and moderate liability exposure that is not easily or well insured by many insurance companies.  As a trained, paid professional, your services are a commercial and professional liability exposure that is not insured under your Homeowner’s or Farm Owner’s Insurance Policy.

This activity is defined as the insured’s fee service of providing low-impact therapeutic massage and / or other types of alternative therapies on horses.  The provider is not usually a licensed veterinarian or chiropractor, but is a technician trained and certified in one or more therapy methods.  The technician usually goes to the horse where it is stabled, thereby providing the services away from their business location.   The technician may also keep horses at their premises where they can do more frequent therapy sessions. The need for such services usually relates to conditions involving muscle pain (as opposed to joint pain conditions), which may benefit from moderate therapy applications.  Alternative therapies may include:  Horse Massage and Body Work of various theories and techniques, Acupressure Ultrasound, Aqua (moving water) Therapy, Light Therapy, Magnetic Therapy, Electrical Stimulation, and Dry or Wet Heat and Cold Applications.

As a commercial services provider, you may worry that you could be sued or otherwise have a claim made against you for bodily injury or property damage by a customer 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 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] to insure massage and therapy activities.

There is a concern over incidents of bodily injury to by-standers and the horse handler while the technician is working on the horse.  Commercial General Liability Insurance protects you from financial loss should a third party 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. The greatest liability concern for the horse therapy provider is the potential for a claim due to injury to the horse while being treated by you, either through an accident of handling, or because of improperly applied treatment.  Care, Custody & Control Liability Insurance is added by endorsement to insure you against financial loss if a non-owned horse in your treatment, care, or control becomes sick, injured or dies and the owner attempts to hold you responsible for financial loss to them because of your negligence.  Note that other Insurers may not provide this coverage without being asked, and if available, it may be provided under a separate policy.  If you board, handle or care for horses owned by others, be sure to ask about this coverage and choose the limits that are right for you.  Our applications ask about this coverage and if you complete that section, a quote for this optional coverage will be provided to you.

The Insured technician also has a Professional Liability exposure.  Therefore, under the NAHA liability insurance program Professional Liability Insurance is added to the general liability policy by endorsement for the professional technician and their paid assistants.

How Risky is Horse Massage & Equine Alternative Therapy Services? Moderate.

Because these therapies are highly specialized, low impact and non-invasive, exposure is considered moderate.

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.

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 responsible.

The two most common claim incidents for Horse Massage & Equine Alternative Therapy Services are:

1. There is a loss of control of the horse during therapy and it injures a bystander or causes damage to property.

2. The Insured technician is accused of providing improper treatment, which causes further injury to the horse, thereby reducing its value and usefulness.

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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