In light of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Equestrian Canada and Equestrian Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs) Canada-wide are warning the horse community to bunker down, cancel events, and rescind all equine-related activities. Those who choose to ignore these recommendations should do so with the knowledge of risks involved, from a social, ethical, and legal standpoint.

Riding establishments and coaches are being advised to check with their respective insurance companies to ensure compliance if they continue to offer programs and services during this period. As the preferred insurance broker for PTSOs from coast to coast, CapriCMW has shared with us an "Open letter to our clients and others who are part of the equine community," in an effort to stress both the social and legal responsibilities of all equestrians, and Canadians, to "flatten the curve."

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Contributed by CapriCMW

March 17, 2020

An open letter to our clients and others who are a part of the equine community. 

We are all dealing with the challenges of managing this unprecedented situation. At CapriCMW, we have embraced our shared responsibility to help “flatten the curve” health and Government officials talk about to stem the spread of the virus amongst our family members, our colleagues and the community at large. 

Many of you will already have had correspondence from Equestrian Canada and/or your Provincial/Territorial Sport Organization regarding suspensions of their operations and deferral or outright cancellations of events for the near future. 

As an insurer and risk manager so heavily engaged in the horse industry, we felt we needed to make a statement in response to a growing number of inquiries from the equine community. 

First, this situation could expose you to legal liability if you do not conduct yourself in a responsible manner. 

Second, it is important to understand that Government and Health Authorities have the sole authority to close businesses down. Currently, more than one province has declared a state of emergency that will affect many of our clients and I expect other authorities across the country will follow suit in the coming days. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are operating all aspects of your business in accordance with the rules and laws that apply to you. There is no shortage of information available on the web from provincial and municipal Government in this regard. 

At this time, it is our strong recommendation that all facilities where the public attend for services (riding lessons, horse shows, training sessions etc.) suspend activity until authorities make it clear that the risk has passed. 

These recommendations are not just about social responsibility; they are your legal responsibility as well. 

We will continue to monitor the situation with the intent of providing assistance where we can. If you have any questions, we’re always here to help. 

Sincerely,

Michael A. (Mike) King, Partner, CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd.

COVID-19 - Frequently Asked Questions - Update as of June 3, 2020

- by Mike King, Partner, CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd.

For Individual/Family Members of Provincial Equine Associations 

1. I am a member of my Provincial / Territorial Equine Association. Does my insurance cover me at this time? 

The coverages provided through individual / family membership are in full force and effect. Membership in our insured provincial / territorial equine associations automatically includes two important coverages: a. $5,000,000 Personal liability insurance designed to respond to claims brought against you should a personal use horse you own, borrow, lease etc., cause BODILY INJURY or PROPERTY DAMAGE to someone / something else and you are held legally liable. b. $30,000 Accident, Death and Dismemberment insurance, which covers you if you suffer a serious or catastrophic injury through an interaction with a horse (this policy does not cover losses arising from contraction of a disease). 

2. I board my horse at a Private facility that has closed to Boarders. Do I have a right to visit and ride my horse? 

It is important to recognize that landowners and business operators have the right to allow, or not allow visitors to enter their premises and business at any time. Boarding facilities are making their decisions to be open or not based on their individual circumstances. We hope that all facilities are making good decisions taking into consideration government and health authorities’ guidelines and the health and welfare of their families, staff and the horses in their care. 

For Commercial Equine Enterprise Operations 

1. Can I allow borders to come and ride, exercise their horses if I live in a province/territory that is not under stay at home orders and we adhere to all social distancing requirements and other government and health authority orders and recommendations? 

CapriCMW or your PTSO/NSO do not and cannot mandate how you operate your business. This decision is not within our authorities. Facilities need to evaluate the risks associated with all operations at site, taking into consideration the health and welfare of their own families, staff, the horses in their care and their clients. We urge everyone to establish a written protocol for sanitization, social distancing, the movement of people and horses as applicable to your specific site and business and then seek approval from the local health authority. 

2. If I establish acceptable protocols with the guidance of my local health authority, is my insurance coverage with CapriCMW in force? 

Your insurance policy as administered by CapriCMW has not changed and has been in full force and effect throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. What has changed is government oversight to restrict the movement of people and the operation of many business enterprises. Government alone is starting to allow some activity. That said, authorities have made it clear that return to activity does come with specific guidance and protocols to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy. 

3. I am a freelance coach who travels from barn to barn. Am I covered by my CapriCMW coach liability insurance policy if I provide a lesson during the outbreak? 

You have the same responsibilities as any of us to do your part to slow the spread of the virus. Travelling from barn to barn and the inevitable interactions with people that are unrelated to each other may be placing you and others at risk. Our recommendation continues to be that you contact local health and/or government authorities to get clear direction. If you are in compliance with all local health authority orders and recommendations, the liability insurance we provide to you as a Coach/Instructor is in full force and effect. 

4. I am an insured coach/ instructor and teach in a private facility. Am I covered by my coach liability insurance policy to teach a one on one, or small group in person lessons if I am adhering to all social distancing requirements and other government health authority orders and recommendations in my province/territory? 

If you are in full compliance with all local health authority orders and recommendations, the liability insurance we provide to you as a Coach/Instructor is in full force and effect. 

5. I am considering doing virtual mounted coaching so I can maintain a relationship with my clients while keeping away from the farm. Am I insured for this activity under the CapriCMW coach liability program?  

Although we recognize your creative approach, the answer is no. Coaches need to evaluate and control the whole environment in which mounted instruction is being given - in person - to properly manage the risk. Instructing riding virtually, even with a support person on site, is outside of the scope of the coverage we provide. 

6. As an equine industry professional, I am aware of the new risks associated with COVID-19. Should I get my clients to sign a new acknowledgement of risk form that addresses this? 

The short answer is “yes”. The best forms are those that address the general risks associated with equine activity and note that there is a possibility of disease being present at the farm, horse show, lesson etc. Just remember that the use of such forms is not a guarantee that a claim won’t be brought against you. These forms are only one of many components in an effective risk management strategy. If you would like us to send you our form, please let us know. 

Your Provincial and National Sport Organizations continue to offer assistance to the community by offering general best practice guidance that considers the overall health and welfare of everyone involved – including the horse. The following link provides more information for your review. https://www.equestrian.ca/news/6WF6AvoJSXa4XnQ26/equestriancanada-statem... .

If you are in doubt of whether you are operating your business as required in the current environment, you should consult your local government and health authorities. 

We will continue to monitor the situation with the intent of providing assistance where we can. If you have any further questions, we’re here to help. Contact us by email at equine@capricmw.ca 

Sincerely, Michael A. (Mike) King, Partner 

 capricmw coronavirus covid-19 equestrian insurance, should i cancel my horse event coronavirus

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