Things To Consider For An Equestrian Facility Owner/Manager Part 2

Monday, October 23, 2017
Posted by Geri Hollander – Claims Manager with Markel

Markel Monday, Markel Insurance

Are you protected against claims alleging negligence or inappropriate action resulted in bodily injury or property damage to another?

What is liability insurance and do I need it? Liability insurance is insurance designed to protect a policyholder against claims alleging that one’s negligence or inappropriate action resulted in bodily injury or property damage to another.

In this mini-series, we will offer some points to consider for

•    facility owners
•    trainers
•    boarders.

In last weeks Markel Monday we touched on the subjects of having the adequate coverage limits for your exposure, listing premises owners on your policy, and the importance of equine liability signs being posted. This week we will go over waivers, boarding agreements, care, custody & control coverage and keeping god records.

Do you have proper waivers?
Waivers should clearly indicate what you are asking a person to do. Risks should be clearly spelled out in large enough font so people understand exactly what they are signing. All visitors should sign and date the waiver. Waivers should be part of your boarding contract as well. If you have minor children riding, have the parents sign a waiver on their behalf. While in most states, a parent cannot sign away the child’s rights, they certainly can waive their claim for medical bills.

Do you have a solid boarding agreement?
Every boarder should sign and date the agreement and it should specify the time period for which it is in effect. Alternatively, a new agreement should be executed annually. Clearly spell out the rules and consistently enforce them. Consider whether dogs are allowed on the property and whether you have a no smoking policy.

Do you allow trainers to teach from your facility?
Make sure they have their own liability policy. Consider requiring them to name you/your facility on their policy as an additional insured. As for a certificate of insurance to verify they have the policy. Consider whether you need a contract/written agreement with them covering what the scope of their work is.

Do you need care, custody and control coverage?
Regular general liability policies generally do not cover personal property in your care, custody and control. Horses are considered “property” so consider the value of the horses you board when you talk of liability limits. Are you responsible for boarders’ property? Did you spell this out in your boarding agreement? Boarders should have their own insurance, but could you be liable for damage to their property? What is the value of the tack in your tack room? Do you have security measures in place? If not, make your boarders aware of that and again, spell it out in your boarding contract. You should also have in your boarders' file their insurance information and contact.

Keep good records!

Good record keeping is crucial in protecting yourself from potential lawsuits.

Boarding contracts should be signed and dated. Retain them for several years. Statutes usually don’t run for several years, so lawsuits can be brought years away, particularly when minors are involved. Maintenance records should also be retained. If an accident occurs, prepare an incident report immediately while facts are still fresh in your mind. Make sure the reports contain facts only and not opinions about what happened or what caused the accident. If the accident involves equipment, preserve that equipment until you speak with your insurance company or legal counsel. Preserve all videos if you have them.

Report all incidents to your insurance company as soon as they happen.
Your insurer’s job is to protect you. That can’t be done unless you make them aware of an incident. The sooner the investigation begins the better. It is important for us to interview those involved, take photos, protect evidence, etc. This allows us to better defend you if a claim is made or lawsuit is filed.

It is worth the time and effort to have a discussion with your insurance agent to be certain you are fully protected. Horses Daily's Mary Phelps is a Markel Equine, Farm and Liability Specialist. Working with her CSR Tracey Scharf they are available to help guide you through this process.,, 1-800-572-3286. many of the needed forms and information can be found on our website

Geri Hollander is a Claims Manager with Markel in the Primary Casualty Division. She has been with Markel  for 22 years and in the claims industry for 42 years. Geri has managed claims in many lines but focused on the Property, Liability and Equine lines of business. She is a horse owner and a dressage rider, who trains with 4* event rider Lainey Ashker. Geri’s partner is Excalibur (Timmy) a 15 year old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding that she has owned and ridden for the past 9 years.