Insurance for Equine Professionals
Trainers, Farriers, Veterinarians, Bodyworkers, Therapists, Coaches, and More
your clients - both human and equine - constantly rely on you for your expertise. you support, educate, and apply your skills in ways that all of us admire! your days are long and your job is never done, not to mention the physical risks that you take to do it; but, it's all worth it because you do something that you love.
many see the allure of an equine profession, but few recognize the risks until the worst happens. your career and your income are in the hands (hooves?!) of a very big, very fragile animal that stops thinking the moment that it feels stress. your financial - and physical - security require you to proactively address risk management. insurance products can help indemnify you against a loss that is bound to occur eventually.
when you get home at the end of the day, all you want to do is relax - but as every small business owner knows, the paperwork still needs to get done! let us help by making your insurance process a little bit smoother. as equine business owners ourselves, our knowledge of the industry allows us to evaluate your business and risk management practices, then make recommendations, without wasting your time. we will inform you about your options and you will make the choices best for your business.
General Liability Policies
most equine professionals carry coverage for general liability. it may be required by a barn that you work out of or another professional that you work for - and it also makes good sense! this policy covers bodily injury and property damage that you are liable for, subject to the exclusions listed on the policy. some policies exclude damages caused by dogs or injuries to riders, for example. the coverage applies when the injured party can show that you were negligent, causing their damages.
a general liability policy also usually includes coverage for medical payments, which does not require the injured person to prove that you are liable in order for their claim to be paid. the coverage is usually for a smaller amount, such as $5,000 or $10,000, and can be used to pay medical bills for the injured person. if they want to claim additional money beyond that, they would have to show that you were liable, and then your liability coverage would step in.
your employees are generally included under your policy, but your independent contractors are not! many equine professionals use independent contractors (assistants, grooms, etc.), so they either need to have their own insurance or else you should assume that if they cause an injury or damage to a third party, you might be held responsible and won't have insurance coverage. some carriers may allow you to insure your independent contractors on your policy, but you must request this. most carriers will require you to collect certificates of insurance from your independent contractors, naming you as additional insured on their policies.
another coverage that you may want to consider adding to your policy is care, custody, and control. this covers the injury, illness, or death of horses in your care, such as while handling, grooming, shoeing, or riding. there is usually a per horse limit and an aggregate limit for the year.
professional liability is also worth considering, especially for trainers who sell horses, farriers, vets, bodyworkers, therapists, and coaches. professional liability covers your negligence in how you do your job. this would apply to claims such as your failure to notice or disclose a horse's health issue to a buyer; when you drive a hot nail; or, when your misdiagnosis causes additional problems (and vet bills) or even a horse's death. the claimant still has to show that you're liable in order for this coverage to apply.
most carriers also offer umbrella and excess liability policies, which are an additional limit of liability on top of your underlying general liability policy. if you use up all of the available limit on your underlying policy, then the umbrella or excess policy will pick up the additional coverage.
most carriers will require you to provide them with copies of your contracts and releases when binding your policy. you may also be familiar with your state's equine liability law. while these types of laws do provide some protection, there are exceptions and you will still be held liable in some situations. it's a good idea to discuss your circumstances with an attorney familiar with equine law to learn where you could be exposed and take preventative measures!
Therapy & Equine Assisted Learning
hippotherapy and therapeutic riding give riders a unique opportunity for physical and emotional learning that they can't get in any other way. the horse's walk mimics the movement of a human pelvis, so riding helps develop a person's strength and balance in ways that just aren't possible in a gym. partnership with a horse also gives a rider independence that he might not have in other aspects of his life. it is one of the most truly rewarding equine experiences for all involved, from riders to their families and friends, volunteers, instructors, therapists, and more.
equine assisted learning, such as leadership coaching, is also growing in popularity. the student works with the horse on the ground, sometimes with the horse at liberty, under the expert eye of a coach. the student learns a new sense of self-awareness and relationship building skills through their interaction with the horse. as we all know, horses are among the most sensitive animals to our moods and movements. they are mirrors, and our reflections have so much to teach us.
equine professionals working in these areas have special considerations for their insurance needs. some carriers require certifications for therapists and instructors. volunteers can typically be included under your general liability coverage, but separate coverage must be purchased for injuries to your volunteers. as with all types of equine interactions, signed release forms from participants are imperative. contact us to learn more about this niche area of equine insurance!
Other Important Lines of Coverage
although general liability is the most common coverage carried, there are many other insurance products available that are invaluable to equine professionals.
coverage for your tack can usually be bundled with your general liability policy or written stand alone. the coverage can be a blanket limit for a group of items, for example "$10,000 in Tack & Equipment," or each item can be scheduled separately. it is a good idea to schedule more expensive items, such as saddles, to ensure that they are covered to the appropriate limit and so that you can get replacement cost coverage. blanket items are usually only insured for their actual cash value, which includes a deduction for depreciation. unlike contents or business personal property coverage, scheduled items are also covered off premises, so you will still have coverage for those when you go to clinics or shows.
Tools & Equipment
as with tack, you can usually bundle coverage for your tools and equipment with your general liability policy or write them on a stand alone policy. they can be covered under a blanket limit for nonspecific items, for example "$5,000 in Tools," or each item can be scheduled separately. it is a good idea to schedule more expensive items, such as forges and anvils or diagnostic equipment, to ensure that they are covered to the appropriate limit and so that you can get replacement cost coverage. blanket items are usually only covered for their actual cash value, which includes a deduction for depreciation. unlike contents or business personal property coverage, scheduled items are also covered off premises, so you will still have coverage when you take these items to your clients' barns. when insuring diagnostic equipment that has multiple pieces that cannot be independently replaced, be sure to do a close review of the policy form - language commonly limits coverage for pairs and sets, so be sure to choose a carrier and coverage type that will insure the entire machine and not just the one particular broken piece.
most equine professionals drive to multiple barns in order to see their clients. depending on how many stops you make per day, you may need a farm or commercial auto policy. personal auto carriers generally do not want to insure professionals making two or more stops per day. even if you make fewer stops than that, be sure to notify your personal auto carrier which vehicle is used in your business, so that they can rate appropriately. business use will cost more, but it is worth it in order for you to be covered while driving for business! your driving is likely to be your biggest liability exposure, even more than your professional liability, so it is important to insure it correctly. if you are ineligible for a personal auto policy, then you can obtain a commercial or farm auto policy instead. note that if you ever trailer non-owned horses, especially if you charge for it, it is important to discuss this with your carrier! many carriers have rules about what they can insure, and you will either need to limit your trailering to comply with your carrier's rule or find a carrier that can insure your activities.
medical, dental, and vision are all important plans for equine professionals. just as "no hoof no horse" applies to horses, if your body is injured, you can't do your job either! there are a wide variety of group and individual plans available. group medical coverage does usually require you to have one W-2 employee, which is not an option for many equine professionals. in that case, you can look at individual plans in your state. other plan types, such as catastrophic and accident plans, can be an inexpensive way to help you meet your deductible, allowing you to purchase a higher deductible medical plan (and reducing your premium overall). there are many options, so please contact us for assistance in sorting through this area of insurance!
disability insurance helps to replace your income if you are temporarily or permanently disabled. as we all know, even the safest horse can trip and fall when you're riding or lose its balance during shoeing. a shocking 1 out of 4 americans in their 20s will be disabled with no income for at least one year prior to reaching retirement age (source). as horse people, we can probably all agree that equine professionals would be even more likely to be injured than the average person. this coverage is imperative for equine professionals, as it will allow you to pay your bills when you are forced to miss work to recover from an injury.
the last thing that any of us want to think about is dying. yet, it will happen to all of us at some point, even if we ignore it. working around horses, driving your car, or even just a random medical event could cause death when we least expect it. what will happen to your loved ones, especially those who depend on you for income, if you passed away, especially unexpectedly? they will have many immediate expenses, such as your medical or hospital bills, your burial or cremation, your funeral or celebration of life, your estate and attorney fees, and more, not to mention all of the regular bills that you paid, such as your rent or mortgage, your car payment, groceries, tuition, taxes, and the list goes on. your family might also be unable to access your funds for months or even years until your estate has been processed. life insurance is an invaluable tool for providing immediate funds to your loved ones upon your death, often with tax benefits. there are many different features available with life insurance policies as well. some policies can be valuable savings and investment tools or help pay for other end of life expenses and long term care. your investment advisor or estate planning attorney can be a great resource for questions about what type of life insurance would be best for you, and we are happy to work with you and your team in putting together your plan. please contact us to discuss your specific situation and needs!
the information contained herein is general information only. policies vary by state, carrier, type,
and insured, so this information might not be true for everyone.
please contact us to discuss your specific situation!