When applying for liability insurance for an equine business, a riding club, or a horse show, for example, company underwriters enforce the requirement for a release of liability agreement that your customers, visitors to your stable or participants in an event are asked to sign. This article will focus on release agreements from an insurance standpoint.
There are several things Blue Bridle agents look for when reviewing the release that accompanies the insurance application. First the release title should state that it is a Release of Liability Agreement (or Waiver). It should clearly identify the people or entities being released. Releasing the wrong party or releasing only one of the parties is a common mistake. We frequently receive releases that do not hold any parties harmless or include those that have no relationship to the named insured.
Furthermore, corporations and organizations should release not only the business entity but others who may be sued, for example, its directors and officers, employees, independent contractors, volunteers and so on.
Although a state’s law may not require that the “WARNING” notice’s language (as in the signage requirements) is included in the release, most insurance companies do. f your state has an equine liability law we will ask that you include the Warning language in your release.
We also look to see if the release describes the inherent risks (the more specific examples the better) associated with equine activities including the exposure to serious injury or even death. And it is extremely important that the release contain what lawyers refer to as “exculpatory language” to reduce your exposure. This is the part where the signer of the release agrees not to sue. (In the case of a minor, the release must be signed by the parent or legal guardian.)
Blue Bridle agents always recommend that you obtain the advice of a knowledgeable attorney to assist you in the preparation of this document. Our responsibility is to make sure the release contains the basics that are required by the insurance carrier. Our acceptance of a release for insurance purposes in no way indicates that your release will be enforceable in your state.
A carefully written release which is administered properly is critical. It is the first and best line of defense against liability claims arising from your operations. It puts the signer on notice that there are certain risks related to any activity involving horses. The party signing the release should be given sufficient time to read the release.
The release of liability agreement may not prevent someone from suing but it may prevent someone from winning a lawsuit. It is important to know your state’s equine activity liability law and to comply with the law.
For information regarding available equine liability insurance protection, our agents are here to assist you.