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Plan Ahead When Lending or Borrowing a Horse Trailer

Horse Trailer and TruckWhen Sam was about to leave for a weekend horse show, he discovered that his horse trailer had a broken tail light. Realizing that the problem could not be repaired in time, he asked his neighbor, Jo, to borrow her trailer. She agreed. Within minutes, Sam hitched his truck to Jo’s trailer, unaware that her trailer’s tongue ball socket and his truck’s hitch ball were not compatible – Jo‘s trailer required a hitch with a wider ball. Later, while Bill drove down the highway, the trailer broke away from his truck, injuring his horses, breaking a fence, injuring motorists, and destroying Ann’s trailer.

Lending your trailer may seem to be a simple and friendly accommodation, but accidents can occur and the risk of liability is always present. Insurance issues add to the complexity. Never assume that everyone’s insurance policies protect them against the worst case scenario.

Insurance for Trailering

Insurance coverages for hauling can include:

  • Liability Coverage. This coverage is important because it protects the driver (subject to policy terms) against claims from injured people who seek payment for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. 
  • Collision Coverage. This coverage is intended to offer protection against damages the truck or trailer may sustain from a collision or other type of accident.
  • Comprehensive Coverage. This covers damages to the vehicle, or possibly the trailer, from something other than a collision, such as fire, windstorm, hail storm, vandalism, or theft.

Other auto-related coverages can include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage, and even coverage for roadside assistance for damaged trailers and towing to a service facility. Coverages exist to protect property owners from damage to or loss of personal property, such as horse equipment, in the trailer. Please keep in mind that all policies have requirements, exclusions, conditions, and limits, and coverages can differ from company to company. Professional haulers require additional coverage.

Damage or Loss to the Borrowed Trailer

Jo and Sam are probably covered by personal automobile policies and homeowner’s liability insurance policies. When they lend or borrow a horse trailer to someone else, however, these coverages may not be enough. Automobile insurance policies often have exclusions that prevent coverage for accidents related to someone else’s trailer. One auto policy’s exclusion states: “This coverage does not apply to: ... Damage to property owned or being transported by an insured person.” If an accident occurs, this exclusion could deny Sam coverage for damage to Jo’s trailer and its contents. Sam’s policy might also contain an exclusion for “damage to property rented to, or in the charge of, an insured person.” Policies might exclude losses or damage to a “trailer” that is not specifically listed as a scheduled item of property on a policy. 

Damage to a Horse in the Trailer

What if the floor boards in Jo’s trailer were rotting and broken while Sam was hauling, injuring his horses? If Sam wants Jo to pay for his horse’s injuries and veterinary bills, would Jo’s insurance cover his claim? Maybe not. Policy exclusions similar to those addressed above might prevent Jo’s insurer from covering claims involving property damage arising from a trailer that Jo loaned out to someone else.

Damages Caused by Towing a Borrowed Trailer

If Jo’s trailer separated from Sam’s truck and collided with cars on the road, Sam might expect his own automobile insurance policy to protect him from claims of the other motorists. It might not. Some policies exclude certain benefits for bodily injury or property damage “arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, loading or unloading of motor vehicles or all other motorized land conveyances, including trailers, owned or operated by or rented or loaned to an Insured."

Conclusion

Whether you are lending or borrowing a horse trailer, make no assumptions about your insurance, especially because trailering can generate very substantial losses and liabilities. Plan ahead and stay safe.

This article does not constitute legal advice. When questions arise based on specific situations, direct them to a knowledgeable insurance agent or attorney.

Categories: Compliance, Insurance, Liability

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is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. She has successfully tried equine cases before juries in four states. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, four books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.

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Julie Fershtman’s latest book, Equine Law and Horse Sense, won its fourth national award on May 31, 2021. It was selected to receive a "Finalist" Medal in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

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Fershtman’s Equine Law Book Receives Second National Award

Julie Fershtman’s book, Equine Law & Horse Sense, published by the American Bar Association, has been selected to receive a 2020 NYC Big Book Award in the category of “Reference” books.

The NYC Big Book Awards draws nominations world-wide. This is the third award for Fershtman’s book since its publication last year. Here is a link for more information, and to see the list of winners: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2020winners

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Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:

"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee

"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council

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Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.

Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners. 

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