Insurance and the Horseman

Gerry Spence

Alan Coren

Ah Insurance! The last lawyer I worked with said "If I had a nickel for every time I had a client complain about insurance companies, I would be a millionaire.  The sooner the better if people can realize that insurance companies are in the business of making money, not giving out money."

It can be so aggravating to pay for insurance for years, then at the moment you need the company to follow through on its obligations to you, your accident or incident happens to fit an obscure exclusion, leaving you without coverage.

However, it is incredible when you have faced loss and just like that (snap!), a check arrives in the mail from the insurance company.
And it is for those moments that we continue to insure ourselves in areas not required by law (the way car insurance is required for all drivers).

It is important for you to identify the liability risks you face so you can choose insurance policies right for you.  California does not have an Equine Activity Liability Statute like most states, though there is likely some protection, albeit uncertain, from the standard tort defense of Assumption of Risk
Here are some examples of insurance policies for the equine involved:

If you are a Ranch owner
In lieu of a standard homeowner's insurance policy, opt for a Farm and Ranch policy which can cover barns, outbuildings, and horses killed by fire, drowning, lightning, etc
Have special insurance coverage for employees, they are often not included in Farm and Ranch policies

If you host equine events
Commercial Equine Liability Insurance
(And you could have risk of loss clauses in a waiver separate  from the entry forms)

If you lease horses
Mortality and major medical injury (and possibly major surgery) coverage on the horse you lease

If you board other peoples' horses
Care, custody, and control insurance policy
(And of course if third parties are riding on your property, it can be a great idea to get personal waivers.) 

Insurance requires a lot of personal research, but there's a good reason we have the saying, better safe than sorry!