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Liability associated having a friend and her horse board at my proprty

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  • Liability associated having a friend and her horse board at my proprty

    HI guys,
    I am bringing my horse home come the jan. timeframe...and have decided to invite a friend and her horse to also come board at my farm. I am by no means in the boarding business, and will not be accepting compensation from my friend. She will be here as a guest rather, and will pay for her own expenses. So i suppose in that aspect, since no monies are being exchanged, I am not a business. Now, my question is this...my barn is on my property, where my house is. USAA covers my homeowners insurance, including the "outbuilding, l.e. the barn. My question is this...if my friend is injured or killed on my property, what are my liabilities? I ask because when I had a horrible riding accident on my trainers property in maryland at her farm, my healthcare insurance sued her homeowners insurance to cover my medical costs. I don't want to go through what my trianer had to go through, EVER. before I allow someone to bring their horse on my property, I need to fully understand what may or may not happen. I also know, as having a friend who is a lawyer and boards at last trainers house, that although certain states have an equine activity statute, a few stipulations apply and they may be limited in scope, and therefore, i am still liable to some extent.

    Even if my friend signs a hold harmless agreement, the legalities of such a contract do not protect me from insurance lawsuits from insurance companies. All in all, I am not willing to spend anymore money for extra coverage to have someone else here, as I have already spent several thousand dollars trying to get my farm in order and suitable for my giant crazy horse....If this is truly something that could potentially fracture get me into legal hot water...I am probably going to have to forego having anyone here at all. If I get killed, so be it. at least my husband and I are paying for the insurance...but I am not trying to have my premiums skyrocket because of someone elses misfortune. I just can risk it.

    My friend margret broke her back on someone elses property riding her horse and once again, the farm owners insurance had to pay for everything...including spine surgery.

    thoughts???
    "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

  • #2
    My insurer (Farm Family) basically told me that keeping a friends horse is considered boarding as far as insurance is concerned. The only way I can have a horse owned by someone else on my home property is to lease it. Or carry commercial insurance.

    I don't remember the exact details of the conversation,,something along the lines of if they are working in return for board then they would technically be an employee and need workman's comp, if the boarder was an absentee owner then you are providing a service - I can't remember the details but they had me no matter what the scenario if I wanted to be fully insured.

    I wouldn't let that stop me from keeping a close friend's horse here and may be doing so soon. But I mean a close, lifelong friend who I trust implicitly even if something horrible were to occur. Or a free lease.

    Comment


    • #3
      You need to specifically discuss all aspects of this matter with your insurance company. Policies vary widely, so it's possible that with another insurance company you could get some of the coverage you need with a homeowners policy.

      But, the issue of liability is more complex beyond the question of what happens if your friend (or a guest of hers) is injured on your property. What if her horse injures another person--for example, could you be held responsible if the horse gets loose while in your care and causes a car accident?

      Ok, and what if her horse is injured and dies on your property--let's say you get sick, your DH feeds the horses for you but messes up and somehow her horse gets into the feedroom, colics and dies--could she hold you responsible for vet bills and the value of the horse?

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        All excellent points to raise....I know my friend would never sue me to cover her medical bills, but I know as fact that her insurance health care may. I have had the same insurer for my health coverage when my accident happened. I suppose the next phone call i should make is to USAA
        "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would be surprised if USAA will cover you for boarding of any sort. I've used them for 25 years, but they wouldn't finance or cover our house and farm because it is zoned agricultural. I switched the properly coverage to Farm Bureau and kept the auto coverage with USAA. FB allows boarding up to 4horses in the standard farm policy. Please post what USAA tells you though.

          Comment


          • #6
            Maybe your boarder could cover the cost of insurance? If you are not going to charge anything otherwise it still might work out for both of you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Do talk to your insurance company. However, I am pretty confident in stating that regardless of whether you are taking money and thus a "business," you will need to purchase professional CCC/liability insurance if you are housing horses other than your own. There are simply too many variables and standard homeowners' policies won't cover you; in fact, having horses not your own may void your homeowners policy in some instances.

              Been through this a few times, in various incarnations.
              Equinox Equine Massage

              In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
              -Albert Camus

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by sketcher View Post
                I wouldn't let that stop me from keeping a close friend's horse here and may be doing so soon. But I mean a close, lifelong friend who I trust implicitly even if something horrible were to occur. Or a free lease.
                You do realize, as Briggsie said, that your friendship may not save you in the event your close friend has some terrible incident on your property. Her insurance company will go after you, not your friend (and she will, in all likelihood, be unable to stop them.)
                No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt
                For you to insult me, I must first value your opinion - Unknown
                Pleasure Portrait 1989-2016...sleep well my girl

                Comment


                • #9
                  For starters, anyone w/ animals (or swimming pools or potentially icy stairs, etc etc) should have a decent size liability policy. They aren't that expensive and worth the $$ if anything happens.

                  As someone said above, your situation may require a commercial liability policy rather than a personal one. But run, don't walk to the insurance co!

                  Edited to add that you should also consider a boarding agreement document that includes liability language relating to you not being liable for things that her horse does...
                  We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Funny you mention that 2 tempe...I have a pool on the property, have an excellent liability coverage for personal injury associate with that...coupled into my homeowners policy. However, as I understand it, equestrian related activities are apparently a whole different animal. Again, I understand I may need a different type of coverage beyond what USAA can offer, but I am not a commercial business, nor do I intend to be. the premiums associated with that are not terrible, but the policies are not cheap. I am considering all the benefits and fun that having my friend on my property can bring, but as an individual who works for the government, has a TS clearance...I really don't have the time or money to explain to security one day that OH, sorry, I am a security risk because someone broke their back on their horse on my property, and their insurance company is suing mine....so, I have to liquidate all of my assets since the PIP coverage on my homeowners does not exist! In the meantime, even though I am now having the pants sued off of me, don't you worry about me selling classified information to the Afghan embassy! Nothing to see here! I mean, obviously that is a major exageration, but the whole point of me bringing MY horse home is to make MY life simple....not complicate it or give me other things to worry about. After being around my Very good friend and horse trainer long enough, I have seen the amount of trouble, time and litigation having someone else on your property can turn into. I am the type of person who tries to think ahead in every scenario...because I certainly don't want to be caught off guard. Honestly, until my accident happened in 2007, I never knew other insurance companies can sue other insurance companies. right after I got out of the hospital, and had to stay with my trainer for 3 days because I could not even wipe my own ass, my insurance informs me that they are not covering the medical bills for the interim and the grilling began....they hounded me and Marija both. It was a nightmare...and frankly, I can do without a situation like that. Again, let me reiterate...I am not worried about what my friend may do....the insurance companies are what I worry about and the way they love to cherrypick their limitation of coverage in such a manner that you no longer have rights. The way the fine print is reading in my USAA coverage.....does not look like I am immune to lawsuits from other persons injuries or deaths resulting from equine or agricultural related, or commercial activities, even if the person who is affected is insured. BAD MOJO
                    "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      When I was just *riding* someone else's horse at a private property where the horse was boarded, I had to sign two different notarized statements that were provided by the horse owner's insurance AND the property owner's insurance. This was just to be able to RIDE the horse. If a horse is actually living on your property, you need to do a lot of checking with both your insurance company AND the horse owner's insurance people.
                      I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It really is hard to think of ALL the possibilities. Things you'd never think of always happen!

                        The other thing to consider is that even if the friend would "never" sue you, you also can't control what her relatives or next-of-kin would do if something terrible happened to her. Plenty of people sue on behalf of a loved one's estate.

                        Having someone else's property or animal on your farm adds responsibility and liability, there's just no way around it, no matter how trustworthy of a friend it is. In our system property owners have a huge amount of liability.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TimelyImpulse View Post
                          I would be surprised if USAA will cover you for boarding of any sort. I've used them for 25 years, but they wouldn't finance or cover our house and farm because it is zoned agricultural. I switched the properly coverage to Farm Bureau and kept the auto coverage with USAA. FB allows boarding up to 4horses in the standard farm policy. Please post what USAA tells you though.
                          We have USAA for our homeowners and we live on an incorporated farm in an AG zone?!? Our outbuildings are covered under this policy as well. I'm really curious to hear what USAA has to say to the OP.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Okay all you USAA homeowners insurance policy holders....they cover our outbuildings, as someone said...but only up to 30k. Now, if your barn is worth more than that, call them back in NOV, when they are apparently authorized to extend that coverage due to some new policy law that was reviewed....but not until NOV (and this may be only for Georgia). The man on the phone notified my husband and I (we did this via conf. call) that having a person on our property, let alone one who is keeping their horse here, regardless of monetary compensation or not...is still viewed as an exchange for service. Our home owners policy can only allow for a limited liability, specifically for this scenario, which it does anyway, but only UP TO 5k. Which in the grand scheme of things, is jack shit. Again, as you all said...The lady explained that in the scenario of an accident, minor, fatal or not, if an ambulence has to come out, and it is horse related in anyway, and it is on our property, the insurance companies go to many lengths to have the property owner's insurance pay for the bills. She basically said we need to seek some sort of commercial liability coverage because we would be screwed if something happened....she also painted a scenario where say someone goes trailriding, their horse slips and falls on top of them, break a leg, we will likely be sued to cover that, and in an instance where the limited liability funds run out, we would have to get a lawyer or pay. To hell with that. My husband is not willing to get commercial insurance. too expensive for a small operation....So, if you have USAA, you may want to consider everything I stated...or call them and get the run down. She basically said it is not even a good idea to have even a guest trail ride.
                            "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You may want to look at other carriers.
                              "Sadly, some people's greatest skill, is being an idiot". (facebook profile pic I saw).

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You would be shocked and appalled to hear about all the times a really good friend became a litigant when things went wrong. As others have said, it's often their family members or their insurance company that will come after you aggressively.

                                I was rear ended in a company car while driving with a friend. Not a scratch on my car. Neither of us were hurt. I moved out of state a few months later and a year later got a phone call from my former employer's attorney asking about the accident. My friend was suing them for $4,000,000. I was horrified when he said they planned to settle since the cost of going to court wasn't worth it to them. He then said "she must have really liked you since you aren't named in the suit". But then he admitted that I wasn't the one with deep pockets in the scenario, so her insurance company was going for the large corporation.

                                Long story short, I'm not sure it's worth exposing your family to the risk of being sued if something happens.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by smokygirl View Post
                                  You may want to look at other carriers.
                                  As I have said before...that is not in my plans, and the husband has already vetoed that idea. the coverage is anywhere from 175-220 a month. Not an expense we can afford to shell out....and I am trying to simplify my life...not complicate things. Sounds like this is all once giant conundrum..and insurance companies scare the hell out of me. When you talk about meddling with my bottom line and my assets, that's when I have to draw the line.
                                  "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by saddleup View Post
                                    You would be shocked and appalled to hear about all the times a really good friend became a litigant when things went wrong. As others have said, it's often their family members or their insurance company that will come after you aggressively.

                                    I was rear ended in a company car while driving with a friend. Not a scratch on my car. Neither of us were hurt. I moved out of state a few months later and a year later got a phone call from my former employer's attorney asking about the accident. My friend was suing them for $4,000,000. I was horrified when he said they planned to settle since the cost of going to court wasn't worth it to them. He then said "she must have really liked you since you aren't named in the suit". But then he admitted that I wasn't the one with deep pockets in the scenario, so her insurance company was going for the large corporation.

                                    Long story short, I'm not sure it's worth exposing your family to the risk of being sued if something happens.
                                    sad but true. And again, as you pointed out...not the person I am worried about. its the insurance companies who launch probing investigations...so even though the USAA person hinted that if anything happened, we could say the person was a visiting rider for the day, why risk it? All it takes is insurance fraud and lying to lose everything I have worked for in my career. No thanks.
                                    "Lose your temper, lose your horse" -someone wise enough to know better than to pick a fight with a 1200 lb animal that could launch you to the moon.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      A couple of years ago when I was thinking of boarding a friend's horse, Farm Family had a special policy for small barn owners that wanted to board 5 or fewer horses. You should give them a call. It wasn't terribly expensive either.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Where'sMyWhite View Post
                                        You do realize, as Briggsie said, that your friendship may not save you in the event your close friend has some terrible incident on your property. Her insurance company will go after you, not your friend (and she will, in all likelihood, be unable to stop them.)
                                        Yes, I do understand that. l don't use the term 'friend' lightly. I understand that if my very close, lifetime, closer than a sister friend had a horrible accident that required serious accident that money would be the least of my worries. I also know that if my friend had a horrible accident while on my property, then her horse would also be 'free leased' to me and therefore, under those conditions, I should be covered. There is nothing that says I shouldn't be covered taking a friend for a ride on 'my' horse as far as my particular insurance policy is written. So, while the insurance company can come after me I would expect my insurance to defend me as long as the horse is on my property under covered terms - such as a 'free lease' where technically the horse is mine while it is here. There would be nothing her family could do, and I do not worry about these people, they are like family to me.

                                        But I guess the point is, unless it is someone you have a very close, solid and trusting relationship with who will not in any way hang you out to dry even when the chips go down then it might be worth the risk. But I would say in most cases, it is not.

                                        Because what could happen is you meet a riding buddy and hit it off famously, let them come to your barn under a *winkwink* lease agreement, "friend" gets hurt badly enough that she has no choice but to file a claim against your insurance and then the *winkwink* agreement goes out the window. And you find out that you weren't such close friends after all.

                                        Comment

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