Peace of Mind

courtesy of America’s Horse Daily

Property insurance protects you from unforeseen events – as long as you’ve bought the right policy. Kathleen Baxley, senior farm underwriter at Agri-Risk Services in Stilwell, Kansas, says owners of equine facilities should notify their insurance agents if they are dealing with people who might not have horse experience, because that might change the coverage.

“With hay rides, carriage rides or pony rides, or offering your horses for hire on trail rides, you are dealing with people that don’t have horses as a lifestyle,” she says. “If you are having a horse show and you declare it, that’s involving people that are typically on their own horses, and these are people that have horses as a lifestyle.”

Like a homeowner’s policy, farm/ranch owner’s insurance provides liability coverage for accidents, such as your dog biting someone or a friend tripping on your porch because the light was out and you were found negligent and therefore responsible for the injury. This insurance also offers protection for commercial equine liability, in the event that a boarder is hurt, or if one of their friends came out to ride and became injured, and other similar occurrences.

“If someone is injured and they sue, you want to make sure that you have protection beyond the current state equine liabilities laws, which have varying degrees of effectiveness,” says Lance Allen, president of Agri-Risk Services. “The big loophole is that the equine liability laws may offer protection, but it still requires attorneys to defend you. You might be right, but it might cost you $50,000 to prove it.”

If you have horses on your property that do not belong to you – for example, you might run a boarding facility or a training operation – Butch Human, owner of Star H Equine Insurance, says you should consider adding an endorsement for care, custody and control liability.

“It only applies to horses that you don’t own that are on your property for whatever reason,” he explains. “In case something happens to one of those horses, and the owner or the owner’s insurance company tries to hold you responsible, this insurance protects you if you are found negligent.”


Depending on your geographical location, you might look into insurance that protects you against floods and earthquakes. Butch notes that in areas like Texas, where grass fires are relatively common, some people opt to cover their pasture fences, although he generally advises against it.

“They can be insured, but unless it’s an unusual situation, I generally don’t recommend insuring pasture fences,” he says. “If a tree falls over and knocks out a couple of sections of fence, you can repair the fence for much less money than you could insure the fencing on your entire property for.”

Front gates, however, are one exception, – especially if they are automatic.

“They seem to be a magnet for lightning, and when it strikes, it fries the wiring, the motor and everything, and it’s a major expense to replace that,” he says

Pricing on farm/ranch owner’s insurance is difficult to determine, because so many proper-specific factors come into play, such as how the house, barn and out-buildings are constructed, the proximity of the facility to the fire department, how far away the nearest fire hydrant is, if there is a pond on the property that the fire department can draw water from in the event of a fire, and so on. As is the case with most insurance, the higher the deductible, the less you will fork out for the premium.

Pricing for commercial facilities that offer lessons and training is determined by the frequency of classes and the number of horses in the training program. Farms that provide boarding and breeding only tend to have less expensive policies.

While few people enjoy spending money on insurance, Hedrick Wilson offers this relatively comforting observation: “Surprisingly, farm/ranch owner’s insurance is not more expensive than a homeowner’s policy,” she says. “It’s just more appropriate.