Am I covered?

“Do I need to take out Public Liability cover on my horse insurance policy if I already have this through another organisation?”

Alongside vet’s fees, public liability is arguably one of the most commonly selected covers on horse insurance policies. Most horse owners and riders will recognise the importance of this protection, in part due to the unpredictable nature of horses – and the people or environment surrounding them.

Many riders will enjoy hacking their horses regularly on public roads, but this activity also presents a risk of damaging third party property. We’ve all seen the comical picture of two riders enjoying a pleasant hack with speech bubbles appearing to depict their mounts discussing whether to spook at the plastic bag or the imaginary squirrel – an illustration that is all too familiar to most of us! Thankfully we can normally disregard our horses’ antics with a grimace or a retort of “Feeling a bit fresh today!” but it is important to ensure you have also safeguarded yourself against potentially more serious incidents.

If your horse chooses a very untimely moment to dance across the road and in doing so causes damage to a passing car you could find yourself liable for the costs associated with the losses incurred by the third party. In this particular example you may be looking at a few repair bills (which could be more expensive than expected) but there are various other scenarios which could result in severe losses being suffered: a more serious accident involving multiple individuals or causing bodily injury could see a claimant’s costs and expenses spiral rapidly. Ensuring you have the appropriate cover on your policy could indemnify you against liability at law for the associated damages.

A number of equestrian organisations, clubs or societies provide public liability cover to its members as an additional benefit. The important factor to consider is whether this policy is discipline specific i.e. will it also cover you for participating in other activities. It is also essential to establish if there are any location restrictions – will you be covered at shows/events/training sessions organised by another governing body, or whilst participating in your own personal activities, for example hacking or riding on the beach? If the contract will offer cover anytime anywhere then you may find this sufficient and can save the expense of purchasing additional cover, but it is vital you are aware of any policy limitations and do not assume you are automatically covered for all activities.

As with all policies, there are certain exclusions that will apply; normally these would include the use of the horse for any business purposes or in connection with your trade or profession, use within a riding establishment and the serving or attempting to serve a mare by a stallion. As always, policy limitations will vary and it is vital to read the full wording to ensure you have the correct level of cover and limit of indemnity (the maximum amount payable for claims arising from one cause) required.

Laura Swinnerton has worked in the insurance industry since 2006 after achieving a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science from The University of the West of England. She studied at Hartpury College in Gloucester and has extensive equine knowledge from personal experiences as well as further professional training. She has two horses to compete –‘Molly’ who is an Intermediate/ CCI** level eventer and ‘Lex’ who showjumps at 1.35m level – and can regularly be seen competing around the UK.

Author: Features Editor

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