It can happen in an instant: while riding a horse that is not their own, a rider causes an accident that injures the horse. It's hard to avoid feeling a sense of guilt in such cases, but high veterinary costs are definitely avoidable.
Horses are strong and graceful, but they can also be skittish and occasionally bolt. If that happens and the horse is injured, the costs can quickly mount up. Horse owners can take out accident insurance for the horse with a specialist animal insurance provider.
However, there are many riders who don't have their own horse. They ride horses owned by someone else. If there is an accident that is not the rider’s fault, the horse's accident insurance normally pays – provided insurance cover has been purchased. Otherwise, the owner is liable for the damage. It's worthwhile finding out how the horse is insured before starting out on a ride because that sense of guilt after an accident may be heightened if the animal is not adequately insured.
The situation is different if the accident is caused by the rider making a mistake. In this case, liability is borne by the rider, in other words, the rider has to pay for any damage. The solution is to insure riding leased horses as a supplement to personal liability insurance.
If you take out supplementary insurance for horse riders, AXA pays for accidental damage that occurs when riding borrowed or leased horses or horses that the rider temporarily keeps or rides for others — if the rider causes the accident and is therefore liable for the damage. The insurance covers the cost of veterinary treatment, the replacement value in the event of death of the horse, and any reduction in the horse's value as a result of injury. AXA also covers expenses for damage to saddles and bridles. If the insured person is not at fault, AXA will fight unjustified claims on their behalf. Supplementary insurance can be taken out by anyone with an AXA personal liability policy, and covers everyone in the family.
“Our data show that very few of our customers have this type of supplementary cover. Many riders are probably unaware that they are inadequately insured if they cause an accident and the horse is injured,” says Claudio Schäfli, Head of Product Management, Residential and Travel at AXA.
Other damage, for example, if the horse damages a fence or injures a passer-by, is covered by normal personal liability insurance. If the rider is injured, the cost of medical treatment is covered by their health insurance or accident insurance. According to figures from the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU), there are about 8,000 accidents of this type in Switzerland every year. “Horse-riding is still very popular, especially with teenagers. Suitable insurance makes riding less of a worry,” says Claudio Schäfli.