This is a controversial area, with very few insurance companies covering self-drive hire for horseboxes.
Transport experts tend to be wary of amateurs hiring out their vehicles for financial reward.
Jon Phillips of the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners says: “I have yet to see anyone do this successfully.”
“Not only is the vehicle insurance difficult, but it invalidates breakdown.”
Jenny Bourne of JB Horsebox Hire uses a company-owned horsebox for commercial use and would never hire out her private one.
“It may seem a good idea to save on transport costs, but hirers do not look after the vehicles,” she says.
“Horses kick the sides, the inside is never cleaned properly, sticky drinks get knocked over in the cab and the outside gets scratched by hedges.”
Make sure you’re covered
But it can be done, and for hundreds of owners it’s an excellent way to start paying off a lorry that often stands idle. However, it’s not enough to add someone as a named driver. As soon as money exchanges hands, it’s illegal not to have appropriate commercial cover.
There is a handful of insurance companies covering “hire and reward” — when the horsebox is hired out with a driver and horses are transported for a fee — but even fewer offering “self-drive hire”, when the horsebox is hired out without a driver and driven by the hirer.
Some companies that do offer the self-drive option will only do so if clients have been trading as a transport business for at least three years.
Millins Insurance specialises in commercial and equestrian insurance, and is one of the rare companies covering around 100 clients with self-drive insurance.
“It can be a useful business that fits around other things,” says broker Wendy Cook at Millins. “But a good head for paperwork is essential, as documents must be meticulously checked.”
Join a specialist
But even if you can secure affordable insurance, going solo is rarely lucrative. Premiums are costly and an owner’s catchment area will always be limited due to hirers not being prepared to travel more than 30 miles to borrow a lorry.
Step in MyHorseboxRental.com, an online business set up by event rider Sonya Cunningham, who wanted to find a solution to paying off her own horsebox.
Owners can put their lorry up for hire on the website and it’ll be covered by MyHorseboxRental’s bespoke policy that runs alongside the lorry’s existing policy to cover self-drive hire.
“It took years to find a commercial insurer who understood the specialist needs of our industry,” says Sonya.
MyHorseboxRental takes 25% commission, or a minimum of £25, which includes everything. There is no fee for joining.
The average daily fee for a 3.5tonne lorry is £100-120, increasing to £200-250 for up to 7.5tonne lorries, with different rates for weekends.
Modern lorries are preferred and the company will check the suitability of horseboxes more than 10 years old. All lorries must be disinfected and tidy before hire. Owners are encouraged to take out breakdown cover for £20 through the website with Equine Rescue, which will then cover self-drive hire.