Ellen Shipton
Solicitor
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Date Published:12 Feb 2021 Last Updated:23 Oct 2021

Riding schools: business interruption insurance payouts and how to make a claim

Specialist Sectors

Along with many other businesses, riding schools have been severely impacted by COVID and the numerous lockdowns. For the majority of the past 12 months or so, riding schools have been unable to welcome pupils and hold lessons. Unfortunately, for many riding schools, this has sadly resulted in their permanent closure. Although riding schools have undoubtedly been struggling for years, for many COVID feels like the final straw for riding schools as we know and love them.

What has been happening?

Due to the uncertainty over lockdown ending and a particularly harsh winter (which means more money needs to be spent on feed and bedding), riding schools have been left with little choice but to set up JustGiving pages and ask their local community to help and donate where possible. Many riding school owners are getting little to no help under the self-employed support scheme due to taking a very low income pre-COVID and re-investing most of their money into their business.

Many people have been lobbying for riding schools to re-open as soon as possible in order to ensure that businesses are saved. Currently, the British Horse Council is working with the Government in an effort to get riding schools opened at the same time as schools. No definitive dates are yet set.

More support for small firms from their insurers- business interruption insurance

On 15 January 2021, the Supreme Court issued their final decision following proceedings first issued by the Financial Conduct Authority back in May 2020. The reason behind the proceedings was due to concern over the lack of positive responses to claims made by small businesses and the reasoning behind some insurers’ decisions.

This will come as a big relief to many small businesses including riding schools who have been struggling throughout the pandemic and have previously been unable to rely on their business interruption insurance.

A high number of insurers were involved in the case itself including Arch Insurance, Argenta, Hiscox Insurance, MS Amlin, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance and QBE Limited whilst a further 60 other insurers will likely be affected by the decision. The guidance considered in Court will therefore need to be applied to individual policies in order to consider whether there is scope to argue over the previous outcome provided by the insurer or make a fresh claim. The insurance industry is expected to pay out as much as £1.8m across new and revisited cases.

Unfortunately some insurers, including NFU Mutual, have since confirmed that the Supreme Court’s decision does not alter previous decisions made

How can we help?

If you own or operate a riding school and you are unhappy with a decision from your insurer on your claim please get in touch with our Equine Law team by contacting: equine@ellisjones.co.uk

If you have any equine related issues, whether business related or not, please get in touch with our specialist Equine Law department by contacting us at equine@ellisjones.co.uk or by calling 01202 057732.

Our Equine Law team specialise in a number of varying equine matters including:

  • Buying and selling horses- contracts and misrepresentations;
  • Loan, livery, grazing agreements;
  • Professional negligence (vets, farriers,saddlers etc);
  • Concerns surrounding the Animals Act 1971; and
  • Concerns surrounding animal welfare (Animal Welfare Act 2006).