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Pony party liability insurance

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  • Pony party liability insurance

    My cousin runs a beautiful pony party business on her farm and has been very successful for almost 17 years now. Her liability insurance has recently gone through the roof. It is based on her income. They recently contacted her to get an updated annual income. When she raised the income listed by $5000 they not only immeditately raised the premium for the current year with a proration back to the beginning of the year but also charged her back 24 months. She is currently paying close to $3000 annually for liability insurance.

    She had asked me if I was interested in doing a similar business model at our farm which is several hours from her. The initial shock with the insurance makes me say no thanks. But in doing some research, someone correct me if I am wrong, there is a huge difference in having a party at your farm and BRINGING the pony to someone's home. My understanding is that going to someone's home and being paid by the hour, you become the employee and they assume the liability as opposed to the party being at your farm and you assuming all of that.

    Does anyone have any suggestions of an insurance agent who would write a more reasonable quote for pony party on the farm. Obviously, after 17 years my cousin has a fantastic track record of providing a safe and enjoyable environment. Also she has never filed a claim in 17 years.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Taking the pony to someone's home does not make you an employee of the homeowner and does not protect you from all liability. You would face some of the same liability issues (although not all of the same issues since you wouldn't have people on your own property). whichever way you go-talk to your insurance carrier.

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    • #3
      I would recommend simply making phone calls to other insurance companies to get quotes to compare. Just pick up the latest copy of any horse magazine and there will be ads for insurance companies that deal with horses and horse related businesses.

      Regarding liability, as Woodsperson points out there is some reduced liability in that you do not have customers/guests coming on your property, but the liability for a horse related accident, etc. would be the same. You would not be an employee of the person who hired you, you would be an independent contractor and therefore would still be expected to carry your own professional/business insurance (just like a plumber, electrician, etc.). Depending on what your assets are, you may want to consider forming a LLC as an additional way to protect yourself personally from potential liability.

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      • #4
        And whatever you do, do NOT Google 'pony party' or 'pony play'. Trust me on this one, I was SCARRED for life as a 13 year old...
        It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Weighaton View Post
          It is based on her income. They recently contacted her to get an updated annual income. When she raised the income listed by $5000 they not only immeditately raised the premium for the current year with a proration back to the beginning of the year but also charged her back 24 months. She is currently paying close to $3000 annually for liability insurance.
          Some of this story doesn't make sense to my insurance-licensed self. And no, I don't sell insurance, just consult on it.

          First of all liability policies typically are writtem for a 1 year period. I renew my CGL each year at which time I provide the carrier with information on my business income, activities, number of horse, etc. The premium is set by the carrier for that year based on my attestation that the information is true and correct. I pay the premium and have coverage for the year. The insurance carrier cannot come back to me later and say, "Oh sorry, you are doing X and now must retroactively charge you more." That's blatantly illegal. Also, since when can insurance carriers go back 24 months to prior policies to increase premium rates? Again, this is an illegal insurance practice of my knowledge.

          I appreciate that LA is a funky state with insurance laws. I used to file policies for carriers there, but I don't think the state insurance department would allow this kind of practice. It is seriously wrong! I'm fine with raising the premium upon renewal based on the income information, but that rate goes forward in time, not backward in time.

          Now I know some of you are thinking, then why not just give the carrier a lowball income number. Because that is also illegal. The information you put on your insurance application is supposed to be truthful to the best of your knowledge. Deceit, if proven, will result in a policy being rescinded. Usually this comes out in a claim situation, but carriers do periodically audit policies. Anyway, if you are going to lie on your application there is no point in getting insurance because deceit will come back to bite.

          I would certainly shop around for CGL coverage for a pony party business. I have a girlfriend who runs one. She does fairs as well as private parties. She makes a pretty good living off of her business. She's full insured, too because the off-premise parties are a bigger risk and most of the fairs require that vendors carry separate coverage. But she also makes enough to go on vacation to Aruba every year, so she has to be doing something right.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks for all of the information. The pony party business is an interesting opportunity with many positives and negatives. Ironwood Farm, my cousin who has this business is also very successful but she has perfected this over many years. She is a great mentor if I decide to pursue this. Plus, I love little children and ponies. I appreciate the leads on insurance.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Woodsperson View Post
              Taking the pony to someone's home does not make you an employee of the homeowner and does not protect you from all liability. You would face some of the same liability issues (although not all of the same issues since you wouldn't have people on your own property). whichever way you go-talk to your insurance carrier.
              Wouldn't your liability actually increase? I know with lessons/instruction I pay less given that I teach on my own facility. if I use someone else's facility I would have to carry insurance in case I damage their facility. With pony parties I could see the same risks; pony damaging property not owned by the insured.
              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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              • #8
                I agree with you, CHT. Your liability increases anytime you take a horse off your property simply because the potential of damaging the property of third parties increases. In most cases, if a horse damages property at your own facilty, it's probably property you own. Liability insurance does not cover your for YOUR property.

                I see the risk in a pony party business as having a pony act in an unpredicatable manner and injure a child. We all know that new situations can set some equines off for reasons we don't understand. Even the saintliest of horses can have a bad moment. And let's face it, a most of the parties are for birthdays with lots of excited kids acting like kids. I'd say the risk is definitely ramped up.

                Which is why you buy insurance. It's for that unlikely situation where there is accidental injury or damage.

                As I posted earlier, my girlfriend runs a very successful pony party business. She holds parties at her farm, but really makes money at the fairs. She's good at it. Her ponies get dressed up for Easter, Halloween, etc. She does fairs on weekends in the spring and fall. Her business is quite successful. And she absolutely adores ponies.
                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
                http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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