This morning my horses went on an unscheduled cross country adventure without me. One minute they were happily grazing in their pasture and the next, I saw the flash of a blanket disappearing through a break in the fence line.
It took me about half an hour to round them up — all the time repeating to myself out loud, “Don’t panic, don’t panic” like a mantra. They had a great time galloping down by the ponds on the property where I keep them. Did a right turn up through the flower beds and the soft new grass of the lawn, and then hightailed it up a hill right out of the Horse from Snowy River and out of sight.
I hopped in my car and found them peacefully grazing by the house of the barn owner’s daughter. Peacefully, that is, until I tried to catch them. Luckily running down the hill didn’t seem to be nearly as attractive as the run up, and from where they were, there was no clear route out to the road. Finally, I caught them using the oldest trick in the world; a handful of grass. Forget that they were standing surrounded by grass. The grass in my hand was obviously better!
What this Spring Fling brought to mind was the importance of liability insurance. This insurance does not protect your horse. It protects you from the actions and damages that your horse inflicts on other people and their property. For example, if your horse gets loose, runs out onto a road and is hit by a car, you would be liable not only for the vet bills, but potentially for the damage incurred to the vehicle and to the driver. And for the damage you did to the neighbor’s lawn when they ran through it, ruining their landscaping. Or, when someone is feeding your horse carrots over the fence and is bitten, or someone approaches your horse at a show and gets stepped on and injured . . . when you stop to think about it, the possibilities start to multiply like rabbits.
A good friend of mine poo-poos the need for liability insurance. She doesn’t believe that people will sue. I disagree. While I’ve never been sued over something that my horses have done, years ago one of our babysitters was in an accident while driving our car. The other person was clearly at least partially to blame; in the midst of a snowstorm, this woman had been in an accident, gotten out of her car and was standing in the road. Our babysitter couldn’t stop, slid into her and knocked her over a guard rail, breaking, I believe, her leg. Okay, so there was a lot of bad judgment here on many levels. But the bottom line was that the person who was hit came after us with an ambulance chasing lawyer. Our insurance company eventually settled the case but it was an eye opener for me — insurance is a necessity, not a luxury.
Virtually every equine insurance agent offers liability insurance (personal or commercial). If you are a horse owner and do not use your horse for commercial purposes, the cost is pretty reasonable. It’s certainly worth looking into. It’s also a good idea to check with your insurance company about what would be covered by any umbrella policies that you carry on your home and/or car. In either case, it is much better to plan ahead for coverage, rather than think about it as you see your horse disappearing over a hill.
There are plenty of good agents who can help you. A couple of the companies that I’ve used in the past include:
A more complete list can be found at Horseworld Data.