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 PTSO's 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."
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.
Michael A. (Mike) King, Partner, CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd.
COVID-19 - Frequently Asked Questions - Update as of April 23, 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 during 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:
- $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.
- $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. The boarding place where I keep my horse is restricting my ability to see my horse and I am concerned that the horse might do something bad because he/she has not been out or worked. Will my liability insurance cover me in this circumstance? What should I do?
The personal liability insurance provided through your membership remains in force. As for accessing the horse, the facility owner/manager of the barn is the sole authority to determine when/if they allow boarders to attend to ensure everyone stays safe.
3. Can I ride my horse?
Neither CapriCMW nor your provincial/territorial equine association are in a position of authority to stop you from riding. You will have to consider the risks associated with this activity as it impacts your personal safety and the safety of others while respecting the recommendations and/or guidelines set out by government and health authorities.
4. I board my horse at a private facility that has closed to boarders. Do I have a right to visit and ride my horse?
We realize that horse owners are anxious to see their mounts and are feeling frustrated that, in some cases, access is being restricted. It is important to recognize that landowners and business operators have the right to allow (or not) visitors to 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. I have temporarily closed my riding school/camp and some other operations to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. I have boarders on my property and wonder if they should be allowed to come here?
You are responsible to ensure the safety of guests, clients, staff, your family – and of course, the horses in your care - at all times. Our recommendation is to follow the guidelines and best practices as set out by government and health authorities with regard to the operation of your business.
Based on the information we have available to us today, staff and others that are essential to maintain the health and welfare of the horses should be allowed to attend.
2. Does essential staff and other people include vets, farriers and those assisting with rehabilitation exercises?
We agree that these primary caregivers are essential to maintain the health of the horse and should be given controlled access unless ordered otherwise by government and / or health officials.
3. 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 health authority orders and recommendations?
Neither CapriCMW nor your PTSO/NSO can mandate how you operate your business. This decision is not within our authority. Facilities need to evaluate all risks associated with this activity taking into consideration the health and welfare of their own families, staff, the horses in their care and their clients.
For Equine Professionals (Coaches and Instructors)
1. I am an insured freelance coach who travels from barn to barn and some of my client’s barns are still open. Am I covered by my 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. What we can say is that 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.
2. 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, 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.
3. I am considering doing virtual mounted coaching in real time 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 I recognize your creative approach, the answer is no. Coaches need to be able to constantly evaluate the whole environment in which mounted instruction is being given - in real time - to manage the risk. Instructing riding from somewhere else (even with a support person on site) is outside of the scope of the insurers coverage.
Your Provincial and National Sport Organizations are working very hard 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. 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. The following link provides more information for your review. https://www.equestrian.ca/news/6WF6AvoJSXa4XnQ26/equestrian-canada-state...
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 email@example.com.
Sincerely, Michael A. (Mike) King, Partner