A Working Group comprising The British Horse Society (BHS), the Association
of British Riding Schools (ABRS), the British Equestrian Trades Association (BETA), and the Association of British Insurers
(ABI) (aided by independent legal and equestrian consultants) met on Friday 17 September 2004 to identify ways in which the
financial pressures caused to proprietors of equestrian establishments by substantial increases in insurance premiums might
be alleviated. The Working Group was chaired by Graham Cory, Chief Executive
of The British Horse Society, with Tim Humphreys leading for the ABI.
The Working Group recognised that the insurance market generally was cyclical,
and that it had experienced a noticeable hardening in the last few years. Significant
inflation in the size of claims for personal injury, due to a number of factors, including the introduction of “no win,
no fee” arrangements, have inevitably fed through into the premiums charged to many business sectors, including riding
The working group acknowledged that the evolution of the compensation system
and changes in the cost of claims were matters for society as a whole to address. However,
to the extent that the risk of claims and the size of premiums could be influenced by the attitudes and actions (or inactions)
of proprietors, then there was clear scope for the equestrian industry to help itself.
Empirical evidence available to the BHS and ABRS
suggests that high levels of expertise and experience in matters relating to equestrianism and equine husbandry on the part
of proprietors is not always matched by high awareness of general commercial pressures nor, in particular, an adequate appreciation
of the risk of claims and how it might be managed to best effect. It was in this
area, the working group concluded, that valuable work might be done. And if there
were better recognition of risk and improved levels of competence in managing it, the number and size of successful claims
would almost certainly diminish, with consequences for the way in which insurers viewed equestrian business.
The working group has established two sub groups,
each charged with framing concrete proposals by the end of the year. The first
will make recommendations for improving education and providing tailored training for proprietors and the second, for helping
proprietors to recognise, manage and reduce risk, including keeping comprehensive records to assist in prompt investigation
of claims. The working group will bring these two important strands together
and hopes to be able to publish proposals in January 2005.
After the meeting Graham Cory said: “We have all seen plenty of evidence that equestrian establishments, which often work to very tight
margins, may be tipped over the edge into insolvency by a substantial increase in insurance premiums. The serious consequences for equestrianism of a decline in the number of riding schools are obvious. Whilst riding schools will continue to face claims in the immediate future, it is
clear that a more informed approach to risk management has the potential to reduce the upward pressure on premiums. We are committed to working with the insurance industry to help equestrian establishments, in the firm
belief that improved operating practices have the potential to ease the financial pressure they face.”