An article published recently by Julie Fershtman, a renowned equine law attorney, depicted an interesting situation that bears sharing with our blog readers. We have written about private horse owner liability several times over the years. The common theme has been whether or not you are protected in the event that your horse causes third party bodily injury or property damage.
Now let us assume that you have verified that your homeowner’s policy does or does not exclude liability coverage for your equine activities. And if it does contain an exclusion, that you have secured a private horse owner liability insurance policy. Whether you keep your horse(s) at home or in a public stable, this protection is vital to your financial security.
Now what if you keep your horse(s) at home where you have a barn with several stalls and an indoor arena. Imagine this scenario. A couple of your friends ask if they can keep their horse at your place during the winter months. As a favor you agree to board them and in so doing, even though intermittent, you have just become a business. And as such, “you will be held to a higher standard of care that businesses owe to their customers”.
You cannot assume that having your friends sign a boarding agreement or a release of liability is going to protect you. And homeowner’s insurance will generally contain a “business pursuit” exclusion. So with no insurance in effect for a business activity on your property, you are in jeopardy.
It’s time to contact your insurance agent, sooner rather than later, and discuss the need for commercial liability insurance. A call to your attorney regarding your release agreement may be wise to be sure it is properly worded. You will also want to be certain that you are in compliance with your state’s Equine Activity Liability Act (now in effect in 47 states).