New threat to riding schools

  • Public liability insurance is expected to become more expensive and increasingly difficult to acquire in the future

    Riding schools could be faced with massive increases in their public liability insurance premiums in the coming months, or even find themselves uninsurable, according to South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB).

    The expected increases follow a series of high awards in the courts, as well as the knock on effects of the 11 September terrorist attacks, which have made insurance companies re-assess the cover they provide.

    “Courts are now awarding damages of millions of pounds,” says Barry Fehler, managing director of SEIB, who believes today’s litigation culture, combined with the New York terrorist attacks, has forced insurance companies to be increasingly careful.

    “A business that has previously suffered claims against it could find premiums rising dramatically, or in extreme cases, they could become uninsurable,” he says.

    Assessing the risks

    Riding schools and other equestrian businesses needing public liability insurance are advised by SEIB to look more closely at safety practices and reduce the likelihood of accidents via a risk assessment exercise.

    “We will continue to offer public liability cover but we will be encouraging our clients to do everything possible to reduce the likelihood of claims,” says Barry.

    Chris Doran, administrative manager for riding school approval at the BHS agrees that the responsibility lies with the proprietor: “I cannot advise too strongly the need for attention to detail, right down to recording incidents in the accident/incident book, which is now compulsory under Health and Safety legislation.”

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