Insurance, Liability and COVID-19 (first published in the July 2020 Equeiry)

On May 28, the Maryland Horse Council Business Network presented a ZOOM Business Seminar on equine business insurance, employer liability, and how these have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100 people signed up for the ZOOM presentation with over 65 listening in live. The seminar was open to all who wished to attend, and a recording video has been made available here:

Corinne Pouliquen, MHC Legislative Committee member and seminar co-organizer, opened the seminar with an overview and then introduced speakers Kate Masterton, Esq., Andy Bennett and C.R. Hogendorp.

Negligence & Standard of Care
Kate Masterton earned a J.D. at American University’s Washington College of Law. She holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and an A.A.S. degree in Equine Science. The Law Office of Kathleen J. Masterton, P.C., is an AV rated firm focused on estate planning and administration, business law, and equine law. During the seminar, Masterton spoke about the legal concepts of negligence and the standard of care, and how they apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The majority of Masterton’s talk revolved around release forms and waivers for lesson and boarding stables, which was also what many listeners asked about during the seminar’s Q & A section. Masterton advises that facilities create one overall comprehensive risk management plan and have only one comprehensive waiver to be signed by clients. “Having multiple release forms, such as a separate one for COVID-19 weakens the overall release form,” she said. Masterton suggests including “biohazards” in the single comprehensive waiver.

Insurance During COVID-19
Andy Bennett is the founder of The Piedmont Group Insurance Solutions. For more than two decades he has worked with agricultural entrepreneurs to design custom risk management programs. He holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from West Virginia University and is currently licensed to do business in almost two-dozen states across the U.S. Bennett spoke on insurance issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bennett suggested that business owners contact their agents to request mid-term adjustments. Agents can help with changes to payroll, sales basis for liability exposures and radius classes (local, intermediate or long distance categories) for business vehicles. In addition, he gave tips on how to prepare workplaces while people return to businesses during COVID-19.

Policy Adjustments
C.R. Hogendorp is a three-time National Reining Horse Association World Champion and was a past president and past vice president of NRHYA. He has offices located in Hunt Valley, MD, and Hedgesville, WV, and is licensed in six states. Hogendorp specializes in Agriculture and Equine Business. He graduated from Towson University with two B.S. degrees. His topics during the seminar related to mid-term policy adjustments and how to keep your business in compliance with state and county COVID-19 regulations

Hogendorp’s biggest advice as the state reopens is for businesses to “proceed with caution” and “reach out to your insurance agent with any and all questions.” Hogendorp also reminded business owners to stay current with state and county COVID-19 mandates as these mandates and executive orders are changing rapidly. “Insurance agents are here to help and we have been helping several owners through this process,” he added. “That is what we are here for!”