In Your Care

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What happens if a horse under your care colics and is in need of emergency care for a life-threatening illness? You might assume that the owner of the horse is responsible for the medical bills. But what if the colic is caused by something you could have prevented, such as feeding spoiled grain or moldy hay? Now it becomes a whole new ballgame.

In these types of situations, barn owners and managers without care, custody and control coverage in their insurance policy could find themselves owing a lot of money.

While a large chunk of barn income goes toward insurance, much of that is put into basic liability. The balance is then used for other specific insurance policies and rider coverages, such as additional personal property coverages, liability umbrellas, workman’s compensation, farm buildings and equipment, and—if you’re smart—care, custody and control coverages.

Care, custody and control (CCC) coverage insures the farm and its owners against the injury, illness or death of a covered animal in their care, custody or control due to their negligence. Negligence does not need to be an intentional or overt act—accidents do happen, after all. But if a court finds that the owner could have done something to prevent the accident, then the owner is liable. That’s when the CCC coverage will kick in.

Bear in mind that the court, or any others involved in a legal decision, are not necessarily going to be horse people, and convincing them that you could not have reasonably foreseen the accident may be an uphill battle. (On the other hand, depending on the policy, some accidents caused by blatant negligence may not be covered.) By protecting yourself with CCC coverage, all medical costs associated with the injury or illness, or the fair market value of the horse in the farm’s care, including any legal fees associated with the defense of such claims, are covered.

Coverages for this type of insurance can usually range from $5,000 per animal and $25,000 per occurrence up to whatever values you would like to place on the horses in your care. While each insurance company can write their policies differently, coverages are usually quoted in blocks of 10 or 20 horses, but individual coverages are probably available depending on your operation and the insurance company.

The amount of coverage you select would depend on the type of your operation, size of your facility and the type of clients you attract. Barn-owned animals, which are not included under CCC, can be covered separately under additional farm personal property, or on a major medical or mortality policy.

Barn owners are not the only ones that could be in need of care, custody and control coverage. Independent contractors such as trainers, transport operators, veterinarians and anyone else that takes a horse into their care for whatever reason, whether they are paid money for their efforts or exchange services, should also possess this type of insurance.

What happens if you turn a horse over to a trainer and the horse suffers a disabling injury during a training session while in their care? Or, what if you hire a transport company to trailer a horse to a show and the horse falls off the ramp during loading and breaks a leg? Who is ultimately responsible? Many trainers, instructors, veterinarians or farriers do not have CCC coverage, which could leave you footing the bill.

In today’s world, insurance is a necessity. And since insurance policies and limits can change from state to state, contact your insurance agent for local information and options. See if you should add care, custody and control coverage to your policy. It might also be a good idea to check with the independent contractors that work in your barn to make sure they are well protected, too.