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Riding Safely

Equestrian Insurance Working Group

Update January 2005

Insurance Working Group Urges Better Record Keeping


“Better record keeping holds the key to keeping the lid on insurance premiums for riding establishments.”  This is the conclusion of the joint horse and insurance industries working group, set up to address the problem caused to many riding establishments by steep increases in insurance costs.


British Horse Society Chief Executive and working group chairman Graham Cory said:  “By and large, we concluded that most riding establishment proprietors recognise the need to keep rider, horse, instructor and accident records.  But Sod’s Law states that the record which is mislaid, or which there was not time to complete, will be the one needed to resist a bogus claim a few years later.  And the more claims which succeed, the greater will be the upward pressure on insurance premiums.”


Although good record keeping was not a complicated matter, the working group was aware of cases where a carelessly worded accident report had served, quite erroneously, to show the riding establishment in a bad light in court.  “There is an art, which is easily learned, to compile an accident report which describes what happened without leaving hostages to fortune”, the working group believed.


When seeking to resist claims which have no merit, insurers and lawyers will look for some key data, of which the most important was the information provided by the rider her or himself about claimed levels of experience and competence.  “Once a claim is brought it is all too easy for the claimant to deny that she had held herself to be an experienced eventer and now assert that she was in fact a novice who should only have been given a placid schoolmaster to ride”, said equestrian lawyer Jane Phillips.  “But if the riding establishment can produce a record, completed and signed by the claimant, the prospects of defending a spurious claim are greatly enhanced.”


The working group did not believe that better record keeping necessarily meant more paperwork, except for those establishments which are currently lax in this regard.  The group was working to produce rider, horse and instructor record forms which would capture the essential data and which would provide insurers with the evidence they need to resist claims which had no merit.  “As the number of successful bogus claims falls, we should see a relaxation on the upwards pressure on premiums”, Cory predicted.


The British Horse Society, the ABRS and the insurance industry intend to work closely, both in making freely available new record forms and in devising a programme of education for riding establishment proprietors to help them improve the quality ­— and therefore usefulness — of their record keeping.  They expect to monitor closely a sample of riding establishments which use the forms and receive appropriate training to see whether better record keeping does indeed produce valuable results.                                

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