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Do you need insurance to ride your horse on the road? H&H explains…

Working out what insurance you do and don’t need when you’re out and about on the road with your horse can be confusing. Horse & Hound sets the record straight. And while the jury is out on whether it’s appropriate to be hacking out at the moment, now would be a good time to look at your cover.

Cars need to be insured to be on road, but do horses?

The short answer is no, there is no legal requirement for horse or rider to carry insurance in order to use roads. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.

Public liability cover

The British Horse Society (BHS) “strongly advises riders to take out public liability insurance, although it is not a legal requirement, as if a horse in their care causes damage to property or injury, they may be liable to pay considerable costs”.

Katie Oswald at SEIB, a specialist equine insurance brokers, says: “Public liability covers claims brought against you by a third party following property damage or bodily injury for which you are legally liable.”

SEIB’s literature explains how public liability insurance relates to horses: “For example if your horse escapes from its field in the night and runs out in front of a moving car resulting in damage to the car and injury to the driver, you could be made to pay the compensation costs for this incident even though you were tucked up in bed at the time.”

It’s not a road specific insurance, but it covers anything that happens while on a road, or any other public place.

What if you don’t own the horse? Are you still covered for public liability? A PetPlan spokesperson explained: “Firstly, you need to check whether the horse is insured and if it is, ask the owner to confirm what cover is in place. If the owner has cover for third party liability check if it covers just the owner, named riders or anyone riding and handling the horse with the owner’s permission.”

They added: “If the owner’s insurance does not cover you for third party liability consider taking out a rider insurance policy. Petplan Equine’s rider insurance is available for both children and adults and includes cover for third party liability and other benefits such as emergency veterinary fees and personal accident.”

Personal accident cover

As the person most likely to be injured in a riding accident is the rider, it’s also recommended that they take out personal accident cover.

Katie adds: “Personal accident cover provides benefits in the event of injury following an accident. Cover can be provided for death, loss of limb or sight, permanent total disablement or weekly benefits, however this is not an exhaustive list of benefits available.”

Many insurance companies also offer vet’s fees, should the horse be injured in an accident.

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Even if you don’t own the horse, you can still take out rider insurance. A number of insurance companies offer a rider-only insurance package.

The BHS Gold membership is £70 for a year if paying by direct debit and £75 for a one-off payment and includes public liability insurance, personal accident, and, according to a BHS spokesperson: “Covers you for any horse you own, look after, or ride.”

PetPlan offers basic and deluxe rider insurance.  The basic cover costs £80 per year, while deluxe is £105 per year. Deluxe pays out more for any claims — including up to £3,000,000 for third party liability, £20,000 for death, permanent disability, and temporary disability. The basic cover is for £1,000,000 and £10,000 respectively.

Shearwater also offers coverage for riders, which, a spokesperson explained: “Will cover you as a rider if you get injured, offering a multitude of benefits, however it does not cover any potential damage to someone else’s property e.g. a car.”

This list isn’t comprehensive. Anyone interested in personal injury insurance or public liability cover should go online and see what’s out there. The internet offers up more than a dozen providers and the same insurance price comparison websites that people use for their car or their home, like moneysupermarket.com, enables users to research a wide range of equine-related policies with different perks and features. Shop around and look for the policy that’s right for you. It’s is a good thing to have for peace of mind if you’re out and about on the roads.

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