Before the new season gets under way or if you are simply planning to drive out and about with your local club, Fiona Gordon-Clarke from Carriagehouse Insurance has this practical advice. First published in Carriage Driving, February 2019.

The days are getting longer, the spring flowers are growing and as they say ‘the sap is rising’ which can only mean one thing: the start of the summer competition season is just round the corner. As you dust off your turnout after a winter in hibernation, what sort of pre-season things should you consider from an insurance perspective? Here are a few suggestions that apply whatever type of driving you are undertaking:

Most insurance policies stipulate that you must take all reasonable steps to maintain your property in a good state of repair. So as the season gets started, it is a good idea to check over and/or have serviced your carriages and harness to make sure that they are in full working order and safe.

2. Carriage driving is an expensive sport and sometimes in the excitement of getting a new horse or equipment such as a carriage or harness etc, it is very easy to overlook getting the insurance. Whether or not you choose to insure is a personal choice but insurance is worth considering if you can’t afford to easily replace damaged equipment or pay an expensive vet invoice.

3. If the only insurance you have is for Legal liability (aka Public or Third party) through a society membership, make sure you are up to date with your membership. A lapse in membership can leave you without any cover. Liability insurance is the most important cover as these claims can amount to many thousands of pounds either in defence costs or actual award payments. If you have horse insurance that includes liability cover, check that the policy is current and also that it covers all the equestrian activities you want to take part in during the summer months.

4. If you are out on the roads, make sure that you are as visible as possible especially when the late levels are low or dull. Hi-Viz jackets, Gillets or hat bands for both driver and back stepper make you very obvious from a distance. If you have the misfortune to be involved in an accident on the road, being able to prove that you had taken all reasonable precautions to make yourself visible can be relevant to a potential claim.

5. Some policies may not cover you for driving trials (cross country driving). Therefore, it is worth making sure that the insurance includes competing, ensuring that you are covered if an accident results in damage when on the marathon and in obstacles.

6. If your carriages have just been insured for theft and fire whilst in storage over the winter, you might want to check that they will be covered for accidental damage whilst you are using or transporting them.

7. Most policies will have security requirements for equipment when taken to shows and it is worth making sure you are au fait with these: Items that are stolen without any sign of a break-in are often considered to be a case of ‘mysterious disappearance’, which isn’t covered as theft. So when leaving your harness and driving equipment unattended at shows, make sure that it is in a locked vehicle or compartment.

8. Theft cover for carriages at events is a question we get asked about frequently; each company regards the security risks differently and therefore will have different security requirements. The policy wording should clarify what each Insurer requires in order for you to meet the policy security requirements both at home and at shows, but if you are in doubt, check with them – they may have specific details on their FAQ website page.

These are just a few things to consider at the start of the season: be safe, be seen and most of all have a fabulous time carriage driving.

First published in Carriage Driving, February 2019.