A Few Questions About Our Little Horse Farm

January 01, 2016
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Tom and Susan live on 9 acres with a 6-Stall Barn. With two horses of their own and four empty stalls, they have decided to take on boarders to share expenses and generate extra income.

John and Mary stable their four horses at home. Mary wants to turn decades of equestrian experience into a part-time job teaching riding lessons – on her own schedule at her own farm.

The Johnsons no longer have horses of their own, so they have decided to lease their barn, arena and paddocks to a trainer who operates a boarding and lesson stable. It seems a perfect fit to have horses and happy on the farm and let someone else take on the responsibility for maintaining the premises.

Do these situations sound familiar? These families have more in common than a love for horses. All three have created business risks which their Homeowner and Personal Umbrella policies will not cover. To illustrate how, let’s examine a few “What if” questions…

What if a barn is destroyed in a fire or a storm? If the barn is used in whole or in part for business, it is no longer covered by Homeowner insurance. The owners will have to clear the debris and rebuild with their own money, if they can.

What if a boarded horse escapes and is struck by a passing vehicle? In this case, the property owner has two problems – a vehicle owner with collision damage and potentially-serious injuries, and an innocent boarder with a dead or injured horse. A Homeowner policy will not cover or defend a claim from either party.

What if a riding student is thrown from a horse and seriously injured? Riding instruction is a business pursuit, and there is no coverage or defense for this activity under a Homeowner policy. If the injured party alleges that negligence contributing to the incident, the property owners will have to fund their own legal defense and pay all damages for which they are responsible.

The marketplace recognizes these problems and has designed a flexible solution. Equine Farm policies combine a wide range of personal and commercial insurance that can be tailored to fit most horse farms. This helps avoid dangerous gaps and needless duplication often found between different policies with separate insurers.

Equine Farm policies can protect a wide range of Property risks, to include:

  • Dwellings and Contents
  • Valuable items like jewelry, silverware, guns, antiques and fine arts
  • Tenant Dwellings
  • Tractors, equipment and Tack
  • Stables, barns, sheds and pasture fencing

Equine Farm policies are designed to include several types of Liability insurance, including:

  • Personal Liability for your residence(s) and private family pursuits
  • Commercial General Liability for risks of owned horses, boarding, breeding, training, riding instruction, equestrian camps, clinics and shows. If a third party suffers bodily injury or property damage as a result of your insured activities, the policy will pay to investigate the circumstances, fund your legal defense and to settle the claim.
  • Umbrella Liability provides an additional layer of liability insurance above your “underlying” coverages. If your Farm, Auto, Boat or other liability coverage is not sufficient to settle a claim, Umbrella Liability insurance can step in with its additional layer of coverage (from $1,000,000 to $10,000,000 or more, as selected).
  • Care, Custody or Control Liability protects against damage to non-owned horses in your care, in your custody, or under your control. If you cause an accident while hauling a client’s horse, or if you leave a gate open and a boarder’s horse escapes, CCC will pay to defend you and settle a claim for the killed or injured horse.

Every farm is unique, and Equine Farm policies are tailored to fit each one with coverages and limits that are as broad as required and as deep as needed. An experienced and knowledgeable risk advisor can identify the landmines that lie ahead and help negotiate safe paths around them

Here’s a question we didn’t ask…

What if an employee hurts his back, or rolls a tractor, or gets kicked in the face by a horse? That is a topic for another day.

Bill Harris is a Risk Advisor with The Harbin Agency, Inc., an independent insurance agency with a major specialty in Equine Mortality and Farm as well as Commercial, Personal and Life & Health insurance. Bill can be reached at billh@harbingency.com.