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Therapeutic riding center

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Coverage specifically designed for therapeutic riding centers.

Operating a therapeutic riding center keeps you very busy, so you probably don’t have a lot of time to actively research insurance options. That’s where Markel can help. Created specifically for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl) members, our therapeutic riding center insurance can help protect you, your center, staff and volunteers from the unforeseen and unexpected.

Why is insurance for therapeutic riding centers  important?

Operating a therapeutic riding center can be thrilling, exhilarating and rewarding. But there are also property and liability risks associated with operating your center. If you have the wrong or inadequate insurance, you could end up with uninsured or underinsured losses, which could put you out of business.

Here are some actual claims we have paid out to our clients:*

  • An insured therapeutic center suffered water damage after a bathroom sink drain pipe corroded and burst. 
  • A volunteer at an insured center fell off a horse after it bucked. The injury was serious enough that an EMS was called to take the volunteer to the hospital for a neck injury.
  • A volunteer at an insured center was walking a horse when another horse spooked and jumped, knocking down the volunteer and causing a broken leg.

*These examples are provided for illustrative purposes only. Any claim submitted under the policy would be evaluated on its own merits and facts compared to the terms of the policy. 

What we offer


Coverage consists of a $1 million per occurrence general liability policy and an excess accident medical policy available in limits of $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000.

  • Your volunteers are included as insureds.
  • PATH International Centers that purchase their general liability from Markel are also eligible for discounted directors and officers coverage, which provides coverage for the club board.

Our coverages can include:

  • Commercial general liability available limits:* $300k/$900k; $500k/$1.5m; $1m/$3m
  • Coverage includes limited premises, equine liability, professional liability, $5,000 medical payments, and $100,000 fire legal liability.
  • Volunteer suit buy-back is an optional coverage that can be added to cover lawsuits brought by injured volunteers (sub-limit $250,000 per occurrence; cost to add is an additional $0.34 per volunteer).
  • Commercial general liability covers certain third party bodily injury and property damage lawsuits filed against the center, its staff, and volunteers.
  • Excludes products liability.
  • Commercial general liability enhancement is available which increases your limits and provide additional coverages.

*Per occurrence is the maximum amount that may be paid on a covered individual claim; aggregate is the maximum amount that may be paid on all covered claims combined within the policy period.

Dwelling and/or outbuildings can be added to this policy, which converts the policy to a farm package.

Auto
Only available for applicant's farm vehicles when writing the liability policy; monoline auto not available.

Excess liability
Available over the underlying Markel Specialty's general liability and may be eligible for auto.

Accident medical
Accident medical covers medical expenses up to the chosen policy limit for volunteers and clients injured during you center's operations.

You can choose from 3 plans:

  • Plan A - $100 minimum premium; $50,000 aggregate; $5,000 accidental death and dismemberment benefit; $10,000 accident medical expense benefit for clients, volunteers, instructors/therapists
  • Plan B - $125 minimum premium; $50,000 aggregate; $5,000 accidental death and dismemberment benefit; $10,000 accident medical expense benefit for clients; $25,000 accident medical expense benefit for volunteers, instructors/therapists
  • Plan C - $150 minimum premium; $100,000 aggregate; $5,000 accidental death and dismemberment benefit; $10,000 accident medical expense benefit for clients; $50,000 accident medical expense benefit for volunteers, instructors/therapists (This plan must be purchased if volunteer suit buyback coverage is added)
  • Frequently asked questions about insurance for therapeutic riding centers

    Do I need to be a PATH Intl. accredited center, or can I just be a regular PATH Intl. member center, to qualify for Markel’s therapeutic insurance program?
    Markel offers an insurance program to PATH Intl. accredited centers and member centers. PATH Intl. provides a manual to centers with their Standards for Certification and Accreditation, ensuring centers and instructors maintain the safest, most ethical and effective programs. All PATH Intl. centers agree to abide by the Standards, as they apply to each individual operation. Markel considers adherence to the PATH Intl. Standards to be very important, and therefore, came up with an insurance program specific for these centers.

    What does Markel’s insurance program for PATH Intl. member centers consist of?
    This insurance program consists of a commercial general liability (GL) policy and an excess accident medical (EAM) policy.

    • The GL policy provides protection against third-party lawsuits alleging bodily injury and/or property damage was caused by the operation, and includes liability limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 annual aggregate.
    • The EAM policy provides medical benefits on an excess basis to injured clients, volunteers, instructors and therapists.

    Which Equine Associated Activities and Therapies (EAAT) are covered?
    Markel’s insurance program for PATH Intl. member centers provides insurance coverage for all PATH Intl. disciplines. All operations must be declared on the insurance application and conducted in accordance with PATH Intl. Standards.

    Does the center only have insurance coverage during sessions?
    The Markel general liability policy extension declarations page provides a condensed list of what the policy is intended to cover. On this page, it states general liability coverage applies to PATH Intl. center operations as further defined as ‘usual center activities’.

    Markel considers caring for the program horses, turn out, exercise, training and resting to all be ‘usual center activities’. For example, a general liability lawsuit brought against the center due to a program horse getting loose on the road and causing an auto accident, would be deemed to have arisen out of usual center activities.

    Why is the excess accident medical policy a required part of Markel’s PATH Intl. insurance program?
    The excess accident medical (EAM) policy is designed to pay co-pays, deductibles and other medical costs after an injured client’s or volunteer’s personal health insurance has paid their given limits. The EAM policy is not a substitute for an individual’s own health insurance, nor for workers compensation coverage.

    The job of the EAM policy is two-fold:z

    1. To assist clients that are injured at the center with minor medical expenses, which will help with avoiding claims against the center’s general liability limits.
    2. To help volunteers, instructors and therapists injured at the center with their medical expenses.

    When do I have to add my instructors by name?
    General liability (GL) policies provide insurance coverage against lawsuits brought on the center (the named insured), all center employees and formal volunteers, officers, directors and board members.

    If your instructor is an employee, a formal volunteer, an officer, a director or a board member, the individual is automatically covered in your policy.

    Any other individual (someone who is NOT an employee/formal volunteer/officer/ director/board member), must be specifically added by name, as an additional insured independent contractor instructor or therapist in order to have insurance coverage from the general liability policy. There is a $215 additional premium charge per independent contractor added. Download the additional insured request form and indicate independent contractor as the type.

    Can I add coverage for my premises owner to my policy?
    It is normal and customary to add general liability coverage for the owner of the premises, where your center operates on. This is not a substitute for the land owner’s own insurance; rather it protects them if they are brought into a liability lawsuit arising out of the center’s operation. The premises owner should be added as additional insured/owner of premises to your general liability policy. If the center owns the premises, liability coverage for the center as owner of premises is automatically included. Download the additional insured request form and indicate premises owner/lessor as the type.

    Can I add coverage for the owners of the horses used in program?
    General liability coverage may be added to the policy for the owners of program horses that are leased, borrowed, rented or used by the center. This general liability coverage provided by the center, only applies when the animal is being used in center activities. If your center owns the animals, general liability coverage for the center as horse owner is automatically included. Download the additional insured request form and indicate horse owner/lessor as the type.

    The center should consider adding the care, custody and control legal liability endorsement. This endorsement pays for injury to non-owned horses when caused by the insured’s negligence. This is not first party coverage for any injury to a horse, but only when that injury is caused by the center’s negligence.

    Example 1: A volunteer turns a non-owned or leased horse out in the wrong field, and the horse is kicked by another horse. This endorsement would reimburse the horse owner for their vet expenses, up to the amount of the coverage.

    Example 2: A volunteer or staff member fed a non-owned horse the wrong food or medicine, and the horse coliced and died. This endorsement would pay the horse owner the value of the horse up to the limits.

    What if the same people own the land and the horses?
    If the same people own the land and the horse(s) used in the program, they should be named as additional insured/owner of premises and additional insured/owner of horse used in program – there is a legal difference in the coverage. Markel charges only one additional insured fee to add the same entity for both purposes. Download the additional insured request form and indicate horse owner and premises owner as types.

    The center should consider adding the care, custody and control legal liability endorsement. This endorsement pays for injury to non-owned horses when caused by the insured’s negligence. This is not first party coverage for any injury to a horse, but only when that injury is caused by the center’s negligence.

    Example 1: A volunteer turns a non-owned or leased horse out in the wrong field, and the horse is kicked by another horse. This endorsement would reimburse the horse owner for their vet expenses, up to the amount of the coverage.

    Example 2: A volunteer or staff member fed a non-owned horse the wrong food or medicine, and the horse coliced and died. This endorsement would pay the horse owner the value of the horse up to the limits.

    What is a public event day?
    Markel’s general liability (GL) policy provides coverage for all center programming, and usual center activities. It does not automatically provide liability coverage when the center hosts an event and invites individuals other than regular clients and their caregivers, formal volunteers, employees and other members of the center family.

    Example 1: End-of-session horse show
    If this is held for regular riders only to compete, then it IS NOT a public event.
    If the center invites other barns to compete or invites the public to attend, then it IS a public event.
    Public events require a supplemental form be completed per public event, and an additional premium applies.

    Example 2: Volunteer appreciation dinner
    If the center only invites the formal volunteers and staff, then it IS NOT a public event.
    If the center allows the volunteers to bring guests who are not formal volunteers, then it IS a public event.
    Public events require a supplemental form be completed per public event, and an additional premium applies.

    What about coverage for alcohol at our event?
    Liquor liability coverage is required at a $1 million limit for those who sell, serve or provide alcohol. When a glass of wine is included in the price of an event ticket, this could be construed by the courts as selling or providing alcohol. If your event will have alcohol available, then the center, the caterer or the facility where the event is held must furnish proof of liquor liability coverage. Markel can offer liquor liability in most states; the premium tends to be high and the bartenders must be trained in the TIPs method. Most centers opt for a venue with liquor liability, or a caterer that carries liquor liability. If alcohol will be served, proof of liquor liability must be provided when the public event supplemental form is submitted.

    Volunteers are insureds under the general liability policy – what does that mean?
    PATH Intl. and Markel consider it very important that formal volunteers are protected against liability lawsuits arising out of their activities at the center. If a client falls off a horse and brings a liability lawsuit against the center, the employed instructor and the formal volunteer sidewalker will all be protected against that third party lawsuit under the center’s general liability policy. This also means that volunteers are not third parties – they are insureds.

    If an injured volunteer uses up all the benefits available under the excess accident medical policy, and brings a bodily injury lawsuit against the center, they are in essence suing themselves - the center’s general liability policy is not intended to respond. Think of being in your own home and falling down your own stairs – you do not sue your homeowner’s policy. Your homeowner’s policy is there to protect you against outsider claims – third party claims. The center’s general liability policy is there to protect the volunteer against third-party claims.

    Is there any way to protect the center against a general liability lawsuit brought by an injured volunteer?
    One of the major advantages of Markel’s general liability insurance for PATH Intl. centers is the ability to purchase volunteer suit buy-back (VSBB) coverage; available in most states. The center may elect to purchase this additional coverage that protects the center against a general liability lawsuit brought by an injured volunteer. There is additional premium for this VSBB coverage to be added to the general liability policy, and it is based on the total number of volunteers. The excess accident medical policy-plan C, which provides $50,000 in benefits for volunteers, is required to be able to add the VSBB coverage. Adding VSBB coverage does not change the liability coverage for the volunteers, it just adds liability insurance for the center should an injured volunteer sue the center. The VSBB coverage is not available in CA, FL, NY or WA.

    Is there a restriction on the age of volunteers?
    Many years ago the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) – now the Professional Association Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) – published a manual that recommended all volunteers be at least 14 years old. This is not a Standard, just a recommendation. Markel suggests all volunteers be at least 16 years old, or old enough to have the responsibility of driving. There is no general liability policy language that limits the age of volunteers. However, using volunteers younger than recommended puts your insurance company in a difficult position when defending a lawsuit. Most centers limit their younger volunteers to supervised activities in the barn, rather than in the ring with clients.

    Does the general liability policy provide professional liability for my therapists?
    Professional liability protects the licensed individual in the event it is alleged they improperly practiced their profession, whereas general liability protects the licensed individual against bodily injury and property damage allegations. The center’s Markel general liability policy provides no medical professional liability. Each licensed therapist is responsible for their own professional liability coverage.

    What about professional liability for riding instructors?
    Markel’s general liability policy for PATH Intl. centers automatically provides professional liability for riding instructors in addition to the general liability coverage. The following riding instructors will have professional liability coverage under the center’s general liability policy:

    • Employed by the center
    • Formal volunteers of the center
    • Center’s officers, directors, and board members
    • Independent contractors that have been specifically added to the center’s general liability policy by name

    What determines if an individual is an employee or an independent contractor?
    Formal employment status is usually easy to recognize. Difficulty arises when you pay with 1099s, cash or trade-of-service. Employment laws vary by state. It is best to consult with someone familiar with the legalities of employment status in your state. The center and its board needs to make the independent/employee determination, and purchase general liability insurance accordingly.

    How does Markel define a therapeutic client?
    Markel considers any client coming to the center for some type of therapeutic benefit plus the horse experience to be a therapeutic client. The client’s file at the center should reflect some definable treatment goal. All clients have PATH Intl. paperwork per the Standards. For example, a girl with anorexia who is coming to the center for help with her self-esteem is a therapeutic client. Riders who are coming to the center simply to learn to sit the jog or post the trot are considered able-bodied lesson students.

    Can coverage be added for able-bodied riding lessons?
    Yes, general liability coverage for able-bodied riding lessons can be added, and an additional premium applies. Rates are based on the number of horses the center provides for the able-bodied riding lessons during any one hour times $315 per horse.

    Example 1: The center only gives private able-bodied lessons (one horse/one rider). The cost would be $315 annually.

    Example 2: The center gives able-bodied lessons in groups of three (three horses/three riders). The cost would be $945 annually (3 horses x $315/horse).

    Does the policy’s vaulting exclusion apply to PATH Intl. interactive vaulting?
    No – interactive vaulting practiced in accordance with PATH Intl. Standards is covered in Markel’s PATH Intl. general liability insurance policy.

    Can we take our clients out of the ring? How about off the property?
    The center’s general liability policy provides coverage for the center’s declared PATH Intl. activities anywhere in the policy’s defined coverage territory. The policy territory is defined as U.S. and Canada. The center’s coverage follows you anywhere you are performing your usual center operations, as long as the activity involves your regular program horses, clients, formal volunteers and instructor.

    Example 1: Your center gets invited to participate in a horse show or to do a demonstration at someone else’s event, you are insured for a covered cause of loss. Your general liability and excess accident medical coverages simply follow you.

    Example 2: Your center goes to the mall to give pony rides – you are NOT covered. Riders are not clients and pony rides are not a PATH Intl. discipline.

    Are higher general liability limits available?
    Yes. Sometimes a center’s net worth exceeds $1,000,000, or the center’s landlord demands more than $1,000,000 per occurrence general liability limits. In these cases, the center may purchase an excess liability policy. Excess liability policies ‘sit over’ the center’s underlying general liability policy. This means the general liability limits per occurrence coverage of $1,000,000, is the primary coverage. Then, the excess liability policy provides increasing per occurrence limit options in multiples of $1,000,000, as the secondary coverage. Excess liability is a separate policy, and the inception/expiration dates of the underlying general liability policy and excess accident medical policy must be concurrent with the excess liability policy dates.

    Is property coverage available for the center’s buildings?
    Property coverage is available in most areas. The center may insure owned buildings, equipment, tack, office fixtures and other farm personal property that is owned by the center. In general, the center cannot insure what it does not own. If the center wishes to insure a building that is not owned by the center, Markel will need a copy of the lease agreement that requires the center pay for property insurance on a building they do not own.

    Does Markel provide workers compensation insurance?
    Markel does not provide workers compensation (WC) coverage for equine operations. With that said, WC rates, experience modifications, and employment classifications are controlled by each state. There should be no difference in cost of WC between insurers since the states are in control of pricing.

    Our center got a horse trailer donated – can we insure it?
    When vehicles are owned by an entity other than an individual, commercial or business auto (BA) coverage is required. A personal auto policy, such as we have on our own personal cars, cannot provide coverage for vehicles that are not personally owned. Markel offers business auto insurance, but the coverage requires a motorized, road-licensed vehicle such as a car or truck. It is very difficult to find business auto coverage for a trailer only. In this instance, since the trailer is a donation this probably requires the non-profit to retain ownership (to protect the donator’s tax implications). Centers that own a truck and a trailer have no trouble purchasing business auto.

    What if our staff uses their own vehicles to do business for the center, such as going to the feed store?
    Business auto insurance provides a very important coverage called non-owned/hired car coverage. This is liability protection for the center in the event a staff member has an auto accident in their own car while on center business. Non-owned/hired car coverage does not replace the staff member’s own personal auto insurance. It adds protection for the center, if the center is also involved in a lawsuit arising out of an accident which occurred while the staff member was performing center business. Non-owned/hired car coverage is part of a business auto policy. Centers that do not own any vehicles and consequently do not have business auto coverage cannot normally access this coverage on its own.

    How are our directors and officers covered?
    The center’s general liability policy provides liability insurance for the officers, directors and board members. These individuals are protected against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits arising out of center activities. The general liability policy does not provide directors and officers (D&O) liability coverage. Markel offers D&O policy options for PATH Intl. centers.

    What does D&O do?
    D&O (directors and officers) insurance protects the board if it is alleged they performed improperly as a board, mismanaged funds, disseminated false information, wrongly hired/fired someone, or harassed someone in the workplace – employment practices liability (EPL). The most common lawsuit a D&O policy defends a board against, is an EPL lawsuit, such as an employee alleging they did not receive vacation pay when they were fired.

    Can Markel provide D&O coverage?
    Markel provides D&O (directors and officers) coverage for our insured centers two ways.

    Option 1: Group policy with $5,000,000 limit
    This option has an annual premium of $350. The $5,000,000 limit is shared by all the centers that elected this group policy option.

    Option 2: Individual center’s policy
    This option offers each center the ability to purchase their own policy with premiums starting at about $1,000 annually, which would provide them with a $1,000,000 D&O limit.

    The D&O policy for both options are issued by United States Liability Insurers and handled by Markel’s D&O underwriting team.

    Does Markel offer sexual abuse coverage?
    Yes, sexual abuse coverage is available as an endorsement to the center’s general liability policy. The coverage is rated according to the number of clients the center serves subject to a minimum premium of $250. A supplemental form is required to add this coverage.

    Can you provide cyber liability?
    Yes, cyber liability is available as an endorsement to the center’s general liability policy. Coverage is rated on a variety of factors detailed in the paperwork required, and is subject to a minimum premium of $350.

    Can I insure my program horses for full mortality and major medical?
    Animal mortality coverage is available for animals aged 90 days through 18 years. The animals must be serviceably sound. Rates are based upon the age, use and value of the animal. The insurable value of the animal is determined by its purchase price. Since so many program horses are older than 18, are only serviceable sound, or most importantly are donated with no applicable purchase price, insuring program horses for animal mortality can be difficult. While they are invaluable to the center, their insurable value may be very low. Medical and surgical coverages are available as an endorsement to an animal mortality policy. Terms and rates may vary by state.

  • Frequently used forms

    Already have a Markel policy for your therapeutic riding center? Below are links to our most frequently used forms:

    PATH Int'l public event request form
    PATH Int'l additional insured request form

Get the protection you deserve.

Submit an online application or contact Kirbi Breuel to get a therapeutic riding center insurance quote today.

Submit an application


Kirbi Breuel
kirbi.breuel@markel.com
+1.913.402.5826

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