Equestrians in Virginia who offer horse boarding facilities to other horse owners, plus equestrians who board their own horses at someone else’s stables, have one important thing in common: the need for liability protection. General liability horse insurance is their solution. Here are two sides of the situation to consider.
Let’s say your daughter (we’ll call her ‘Emma’) has her first horse… and your relative (we’ll call him ‘Uncle Fred’) agrees to keep the horse at his own stables. Sounds friendly and simple, right? Actually, no. Both Emma and Uncle Fred are exposing themselves to potential risks. It might seem unnecessary for you to have a written contract between yourselves and Uncle Fred that specifies the terms of her boarding at his stables. But like all insurance, the time to agree to contract terms and to get the insurance, is while everyone is still happy and there aren’t any disagreements.
For the horse boarder (Emma):
Emma’s excited and she can hardly wait to train and ride her new horse. It’s an adult responsibility to make sure that Emma and Emma’s new horse are protected from unknown events that may occur while boarding at Uncle Fred’s stables. Is Emma or Uncle Fred liable if Emma allows a friend to ride her horse and is somehow injured while at Uncle Fred’s stables? Who pays if Emma’s horse causes damage to a stall or fence? Does Emma know the limits of her activities while boarding a horse at Uncle Fred’s stables? Where is she allowed to ride? What if Emma’s tack is stolen, damaged, or lost? Who is responsible if you and Emma hire an outside trainer to work with her horse? Is Emma’s horse covered for any medical or surgical necessities… for that matter, is Emma herself covered for injury or liability while she is on someone else’s property?
For Uncle Fred’s stables
Uncle Fred may board many horses at his stables and he may also give lessons to non-boarders there as well. His plans may range from a simple hobby to an actual equestrian business. Regardless, it is nearly impossible for Uncle Fred to be present and to supervise every moment that Emma is on his premises. He doesn’t want that and Emma likely doesn’t want that either.
Horses are considered to be ‘property’ in most states. Does Uncle Fred’s insurance cover horses that he does not own? Is Uncle Fred permitted to direct treatment to a horse that belongs to Emma? Is his liability coverage amount sufficient to cover the value of the horses on his premises at any particular time? General liability insurance should cover Uncle Fred’s business for personal injury, property damage and other events… and Emma’s contract with Uncle Fred should specify these coverages. Especially for a boarding business it’s important to protect against potential claims…. even if the claims are not true… because guess what? Sometimes people file false claims and Uncle Fred may end up with defense costs. really.
There’s a 2-part solution for Emma’s and Uncle Fred’s protection. (1) They need a clear written agreed contract at the beginning of their boarding arrangement, and ideally this contract is updated/agreed annually. And (2) Emma and Uncle Fred each need to make sure that they are covered with general liability horse insurance that protects their activities while Emma’s horse is being boarded at Uncle Fred’s stables.