Attorney Kjirsten Lee, J.D., shares some guidelines.
A lot of people think that “insurance” is synonymous with “expensive.” On December 8, 2014, Equestrian Professional had a webinar about equine law and one of the questions asked was, “How can you make insurance affordable for a small lesson program?” Here are some of the answers:
- Shop around for a reasonable rate – keeping in mind that cheaper premiums might come with less extensive coverage
- Do not skimp in describing your business operation in an effort to get a small premium
- Overcome sticker shock – you might need to raise your lesson rates, and some insurance companies will work with you to come up with a payment plan
Equine professional liability is useful for the “roving riding instructor” who teaches lessons at multiple barns.
I would urge riding instructors to invest in proper liability insurance, for several reasons. First, a stable’s liability insurance coverage may not extend to independent riding instructors on the stable’s property. Second, the stable’s policy might not be designed to cover riding lessons. In both these cases, the instructor faces risk of liability. When someone is injured during an equine activity and hires a lawyer, the lawyer will usually include all people or businesses having any possible connection to the incident in any claims or lawsuits.
If an independent riding instructor does not have a liability insurance policy, it is particularly important to have customers and spectators of legal age sign well-drafted releases of liability, where allowed by law. It is best to have a knowledgeable lawyer draft or approve any contracts or releases. Such a lawyer will know whether the language in the release is enough to make the release enforceable, and will know if there are any particular requirements under the state equine activity liability law.
These are just guidelines for independent riding instructors. If you have particular questions about your situation, it is always best to consult with an attorney directly.
Kjirsten Lee, J.D., is an attorney in Memphis, TN. She has written on topics such as the Horse Protection Act and use of drugs in racehorses. Kjirsten and her OTTB, Gobain, compete in dressage and eventing.