Horse trials insurance is soaring

  • Horse trials organisers are having to shoulder steep event insurance increases and another wet year could render some events uninsurable, an expert has warned.

    British Eventing (BE) lost almost 100 days of competition — including Badminton, Gatcombe and Chatsworth — in 2012, its worst season for cancellations on record.

    In his recent H&H column (7 March), Mark Phillips revealed that the premium for the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe (2-4 August) had “nearly doubled”.

    Tissie Reason of Chatsworth told H&H that their insurance had “more than doubled, for the same level of cover”.

    As entry fees are set by BE and the FEI, organisers need to recoup the money elsewhere. Mrs Reason hopes to do this by increasing the number of tradestands and spectators.

    BE announced late last year that the abandonment insurance paid by competitors would go up from 9.5% to 12% of the entry fee.

    The abandonment fund paid out around £1.7million last season. Guy Prest of insurance broker KBIS, which underwrites the scheme, told H&H that figure would be closer to £250,000 in a normal year.

    “Last year was a worst-case scenario and it went beyond what anyone would have expected,” said Mr Prest.

    “If we have another year as wet as 2012, I think the insurance market would be running scared.

    “It may become untenable for some events with poor cancellation records to find insurance cover.”

    Mr Prest said event organisers should shop around for the best policy. KBIS, which provides policies for a number of events, including Badminton, has also put some clients on to a two-year policy.

    “That way, if the event cancels one year, but runs the next, the client will have some track record that is good,” said Mr Prest.

    Badminton director Hugh Thomas has seen his insurance premium go up by 55%, although he has increased the sum insured.

    “It is a big chunk,” said Mr Thomas. “But I’m pleased with the job our broker did. I was expecting it to be much worse.”

    Some event organisers do not take out insurance.

    The people behind the Great Yorkshire Show say the cost is “prohibitive”. But when last year’s event was abandoned, it cost them £2m.

    “We had to stand that loss ourselves,” said Judy Thompson of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

    “Fortunately, we have reserves to cover it — but you do hope lightning won’t strike twice in the same place.”

    But David Nunn, director of the Suffolk Show, has decided to take out insurance following last year’s cancellation of their second day, the first in the event’s 181 year history.

    He said: “We could not sustain another £1-2m hit. The world is changing; we cannot ignore issues associated with climate change and felt this was a prudent step.”

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (14 March 2013)

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