Ask H&H: riding without a hat and insurance

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Q: In the light of Courtney King-Dye’s accident, I double-checked my insurance to see what would happen in the event of a serious fall.

Is it correct that some cover — including private health insurance, personal injury insurance and possibly mortgage cover and life insurance — could be void if riders are not wearing good protective headwear and their lack of a hat is a contributory factor to their injury?
KW Lincs

The benefit from some insurance policies may be affected if a lack of protective headgear is considered to be a contributory factor to a person’s injury.

According to David Buckton, associate director of South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB), there are a couple of points to keep in mind regarding protective headgear.

“Some policies — private health, travel, accident, mortgage protection, life insurances and so on — will not cover dangerous sporting activities,” he said.

“Companies differ in their attitude to horse riding — some regard it as a dangerous activity. It is therefore important always to check that a policy does not exclude the particular riding activity or discipline being undertaken.”

This is often overlooked on holidays, so if you are planning to ride a horse when abroad, make sure your travel insurance covers you.

“As far as the hat issue is concerned, we all have a general duty to take reasonable care of ourselves,” David added. “Not wearing a riding helmet and then sustaining a head injury may not necessarily invalidate an insurance policy, unless there is a specific policy condition requiring a hard hat.

“However, if the lack of protective headgear is a contributory factor, then any benefit is likely to be reduced. Remember also that not all accidents involving horses come from falling off; many of the most serious injuries happen on the ground while handling them.”


SEIB, tel: 01708 850000 www.seib.co.uk

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (22 April, ’10)

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