An equine liability insurance policy can help cover expenses and protect you from a lawsuit should your horse hurt someone on your property. A good liability release and contract, however, will provide with an added layer of protection, says Rachel McCart, JD, who runs Equine Legal Solutions in western Oregon and is licensed in California, Oregon, Washington, and New York.

“Contracts and insurance are completely different things,” she explains. “Your contract helps keep people from suing you in the first place and helps keep them from winning if they do. There is no way to actually prevent someone from suing you, because anybody can sue anybody for anything. If someone sues you, even if there is no way they are ever going to win, it’s still expensive for you to defend yourself.”

If you’re insured, the claims in a lawsuit fall within the confines of your policy, so the insurance company will appoint and pay for your counsel. “They will also, within the limits of your policy, pay any legal judgment or settlement in the case,” she says. “When you look at it from that perspective, insurance is cheap!”

One thing you can do with a contract is shift responsibility for attorney fees and costs to the loser in a lawsuit. “In my mind, that’s the way it should be, because it discourages people from bringing frivolous claims,” she says.

If you keep horses at home, check with your homeowners’ insurance agent to see if you need additional insurance to cover horse-related situations. “Even if you don’t give lessons or do any business with horses, if you occasion