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Riding Safely

Australian Horse Industry Crisis

Tackling the insurance crisis of 2002

Were you aware that in 2002 many Australian riding establishments ceased trading because they could no longer get public liability insurance at an affordable price, if at all?
Riding Safely has been looking at the crisis that struck in 2002 and how it has recovered to where it is today in 2004.  
Jane Myers ran an equestrian establishment which was forced to close because of the insurance crisis.  She's sent Riding Safely her personal account of what happened......
" Many businesses closed due to the insurance crisis including ours, because we had not been going long enough to ride out the storm.  The situation was awful for some businesses that even though they were well established, had to close as they simply could not afford the increases, in fact up until the last week or two before the deadline it was not known if insurance would be able to be obtained at all.
For the last two years the only insurance available has been an overseas insurer with a limit of $5 million cover.  It was not viable for individuals to use (such as freelance instructors) as it was far too expensive; so many of them have not taught for the last two years.
Eventually the government helped out and gave some money for a code of conduct to be developed.  The Australian Horse Council (similar to the BHS) took it on board and developed "Horsesafe".  Things are starting to settle down now as a reputable insurance company (still very expensive) has decided to reinsure due to the improved safety standards that have resulted since Horsesafe was developed (standards were on the whole, pretty bad in many places before the code of conduct was developed and it was a good thing that some places had to close as they were very dangerous however, sadly many good places had to close too.)
My advice would be to keep a close eye on what happened to Australia and get the powers that be to try to take action before it is too late.  The insurance crisis affected many other pursuits and put many people out of business.  In many ways people could not believe that it was happening and the government would allow it to happen (and therefore they did nothing until it was too late) but at the same time the government (it has been said) had the attitude that the horse industry should be able to pull together and find a solution.  The horse industry has the same problems here as it does in many countries including Britain in that it is too fragmented with many groups pulling in different directions."
Jane Myers MSc
Equine Consultant
12 June 2004
Jane is the author of
"Horse Safe" - a complete guide to equine safety
- ISBN 0 643 09245 5
"Managing Horses on Small Properties"
- ISBN 0 643 0906 73
Available in the UK from:  Eurospan
+44 20 7379 0609

An update comes from the July 2004 Australian Horse Industry Council newsletter......

"Over the past few years the AHIC has worked to ensure that we can enjoy our horses with the protection of insurance at an affordable cost.  One aspect of this was to improve the way many horses business were managed, especially with regard to record keeping and risk management.  This led to the development of the Code of Practice and HorseSafe.  This has made it easier to interest companies in providing us with insurance.  Secondly we worked with State governments to ensure that their laws recognised waivers and acceptance of risk by participants as a defence against law suits.  The situation is now much improved.

It is good to see that insurers are re-entering the market and offering insurance at reasonable rates.  There is a word of warning however.  You need to remember the HIH fiasco.  Will the company with whom you are insured still be here when the claims are being made?  If the premium sounds too good to be true, ask a few questions.  Some horse people have found that their public liability insurance has not been acceptable to Government bodies, local councils etc because the insurer has not met the requirements of the Australian insurance regulator, APRA."


Related Documents
Australian Horse Industry Council - home page - find out more about the development of the code of practice
Australian Horse Industry Council "Horsesafe" - links and resources  - to assist for the preparation of the Horsesafe audit.  Interesting links - take a look......
See also the Queensland Govement website for the latest updates on the above code of practice

There is a substantial amount to be learnt from the Australian insurance crisis and it would be foolish not to capitalise on their experience and solutions. 

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