Liability in case of trailer accident

I recently started trailering a few friends horses’ to relatively local shows, hunter paces, trail rides etc. I started to think about insurance coverage. My trailer and truck are fully covered however most insurances do not cover contents including a horses. So if I were to be in an accident, injury or death to the animals wouldn’t be covered. If the horses I am trailering are not insured or even if they are, am I liable if there were to be an accident with injuries and/or death to the horses? If so, is there any way I can protect myself? Please note this is strictly trailering a friends horse so we can ride together. Nothing commercial and my rig does NOT require me to have a cdl.
As an aside, I (ignorantly) never gave much thought to this and shared trailer rides all the time when I was younger, but I guess I have more to lose now and want to make sure I am protected.

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Most insurance may not cover “contents”, but it does cover “liability”.

So if your own horse is injured in a trailer accident, your vehicle insurance won’t help.

But if your friend’s horse was injured (assuming you can convince them you were not “working for hire”), your liability insurance should cover you.

But check with your insurance agent.


I agree with Janet’s point, this is for sure something to discuss with your insurance agent about the specifics of your policy.


In general if you’re starting to think about protecting assets, you may want to inquire about adding an umbrella liability policy on top of your homeowners and automobile policies.


Depending on your insurance company and if you are using the same company for auto and homeowners, you may get some (albeit small) break to homeowners/auto if you add an umbrella.

Others have suggested checking with your insurance agent --good–but whatever you are told get the decision in writing. A statement you remember an agent making will not help you should the company deny coverage due to various reasons --maybe the accident isn’t your fault and the other driver is being pursued for the damage; maybe the value of the horse is questionable, maybe there is some negligence on your part --all might be used to avoid paying for your friend’s injured horse.

Suggest instead a lawyer draw up a “hold harmless” document and have your friends sign it every time you haul them. Be sure they date and sign and you date and sign. Then should an accident/injury occur, you have something that document shows the person knew the risk and accepted responsibility for the horse while in your trailer. You MIGHT be able to find a document on-line and tweek it around to suit your needs. But both of you sign it, date it, every single time.

You may be surprised to find out that your friends rather assume that if their horse is hurt in or by your trailer, you will pay all/part of the vet bill. You may be surprised to find out that those same friends do not expect to pay for any damage caused by them or their horses to your trailer or tow vehicle.

I think it’s good to have such things clear between two friends before they happen --so if they do, you can stay friends.

—stop here or continue reading for the rest of the sermon —

I no longer haul for anyone. Period. Once upon a time when I was a kid with a horse and no trailer, I said to myself if I ever got a trailer, I’d give a ride to anyone who needed it. I did get a trailer, and I did haul for a lot of kids and friends. And I decided (with some input from COTH board) it wasn’t worth it.

–little things got broken --and a promise to “fix it” or “buy another one” never materialized. And I felt foolish calling and reminding someone that their horse broke the ring that holds the hay net --$15 fix, but someone had to do it. Horses damage trailers --acceptable when it was my horse --but maybe not so much when it’s your horse and you leave it tied to my trailer, go off with your friends and your horse damages the paint by rubbing his head up and down on the side of the trailer --yes, you are sorry, but whose going to pay to have the trailer repainted? And the statement, “It’s just a horse trailer” --is true, but it didn’t have scratches all over that side before you tied your horse to it! But the deal breaker for me was the “friend” who wanted her kid’s horse hauled to a show --she left early and left the kid to load the horse --ok --but I said to the kid --you need to wrap the legs or put boots on for safety. Kid said she didn’t want to. Ok. Horse comes out of the trailer, too fast, slips and hind leg gets a really bad scrape on the back of the trailer —parent blames me! Felt I should have unloaded the horse for the kid instead of letting the kid unload her own horse.

And as long as I’m a rant --exactly ONCE did a friend stick around after a horse outing and help me hose out the trailer which I do every time I use it. And yes, I ask, and yes I say ahead of time that the friends need to help hose out the trailer --but somehow, after a long day or horse activity, everyone else has something more important to do . . .

As a wise COTH member said --just say no. It is a complete sentence.


Yup. I only haul when I want to ride or go to a clinic or show with a friend. I don’t haul as a “favour” if I’m not attending the event. I should probably still think about liability.

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All of this. I look like such a butthead when I pull out with a giant trailer with only my horse in it, but screw them. They don’t pay the bills, they won’t pay for damages. I worked REALLY hard for that trailer, and paid for it in cash. Not a chance am I going to let a strange horse do damage to it.


Same, and this is maybe 10% of the reason I ended up buying a one horse trailer. Can’t hurt anyone’s feelings saying no when I literally can’t fit their horse on my trailer! I know it’s hard to afford a truck and trailer and I wish I could be that person that could generously give rides, but I’m anxious enough being responsible for my own animal on the roadways with bad drivers, I don’t need to be responsible for someone else’s.


@endlessclimb --I’d forgotten to mention the cost of owning a trailer in my rant! Too many people (I need different friends) have the attitude that “trailer owner is going to pay for maintenance/insurance anyway,” so putting their horse in too doesn’t cost the trailer owner any more money. --one FORMER friend that I hauled a-LOT said that to me —she said she didn’t mind putting in for 1/2 the gas, but thought since I would pay yearly upkeep, it made no difference if she didn’t pay anything more than that gas . . . .DH keeps careful track and on average, my trailer costs me $400 a year to own it —some years less, some years more (depends on when I have tires replaced).

But mostly my slow burn with that particular former friend was the attitude! She was so entitled to have a driver come to pick up her horse in a clean, safe trailer, drive her to where ever, then drive her home. I asked her point-blank to come over the following day to help hose out the trailer --she looked inside and said, “My horse really didn’t do more than poop in it, and you’ll be cleaning it out anyway.” End. of. friendship. End. of . hauling. her. forever.


Oh man, I likely would not have been able to hold my tongue.

The most recent time I’ve hauled for someone was for a young girl who unexpectedly lost her pony to a torsion colic. I had helped her look for a horse locally, we had found one ~3 hours south, she trialed and liked and the little mare passed the PPE. Super! We will go get her!

That mare pawed the whole way home, and took probably 1/8" off my WERM flooring. Had I known, I probably would have put those pawing cuffs on her. Ugh. Not the girl’s fault though, as I volunteered to go get the new horse. Lesson learned!!


Oh!! And!!

The entitlement when someone from the same barn is going to the same show as you.

No, I will not haul your horse. Here are some reasons.

  1. I sleep in my trailer. I pack my trailer meticulously. I do not want you in and out of my trailer when I’m trying to brush my teeth in the morning, or are trying to zen before my ride time.
  2. When I’m finished for the day, I don’t want to sit around and wait for you to be finished for the day. I’m normally all packed up minus the immediate needs for the last class. I ride and then boogie on out.
  3. If your horse won’t load, I’m the one who is going to have to deal with it.

I have gone from deterring people by saying “full tank of diesel and I’ll do it - around $110 to fill her up” to just a flat out no. I am antisocial, even at shows. I don’t want to be forced to interact with someone all day long. I show up, do my thing, and leave.


You need a commercial cargo policy for the cargo to be covered. Livestock especially.

Once being hauled it’s considered transporting goods.

Make sure you aren’t accepting payment for trailering or your entire policy will be voided.

The only way to cover your friends horses is to have them insure the horses or get Cargo coverage which you will need commercial hauling registration to get.


Hold harmless agreement doesn’t stand up especially for auto insurance. A lot of auto insurance is very complex due to federal regulations.


Lol remembering that one time someone paid me $12 to trailer her to a show an hr away then complained the whole way home her horse spooked in the ring and caused her to lose the class :roll_eyes: NOT worth it


This reminded me of the time when I was going to the same show that the barn trainer was and she told me “I might need you to haul Dusty.” I was feeling a bit down hearing that, I was planning to take both of my horses. Wait a minute… IT’S MY TRAILER! I can do whatever I want!


Plus the cost of the truck!!! Can’t haul ponies with a Prius! Extra weight in the trailer is extra strain on the transmission.

I’ve done a small amount of local hauling to shows for friends / barn mates in the past. I haven’t had issues but it was still a PITA coordinating schedules.

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@lenapesadie --OMG --so true! The same entitled former friend I used to haul, used to totally frost my biscuits when she would get something to eat on the road (or bring something) then make a tiny little wad of her wrappers or bag, stuff it into her drink cup, and put it neatly on the floor. ALWAYS I found it there the next time I opened the passenger door —TAKE IT WITH YOU, SISTER!

In fairness (although at this point I don’t feel much like being fair) --part of her sense of entitlement, I suspect, came from being a single lady, owning horses, having a small farm --just like me --except I had DH --I think in the faux friends POV —DH’s income, and knowledge of “guy stuff” (like trailers, trucks) entitled her to a pass on the knitty-gritty of trailer ownership cost, use, and maintenance. I suspect she thought that “the big guy” came out and cleaned my stalls, washed my trailer, and filled my gas tanks. He does not. Although as a car guy, he will show me which car-clay to use and suggest the best wax.

TMI --I’m sure —been 2 years since I cut ties with faux friend --I need to get over it!


Omg. I’d lose my mind if someone hitched a ride with me and couldn’t be bothered to pick up their own trash out of my truck.

Mr LS is a top notch mechanic and I cannot count the number of times my horse friends have tried to gang press him into working on their raggedy vehicles/tractors/lawn equipment/etc. Ummm, his hourly rate is $165. At one point it got so bad he didn’t want to visit the horse with me bc he knew he was gonna get asked for a million favors.


Thanks for all the info! As much as I don’t want to haul other peoples horses, I enjoy riding with this friend and I am kinda stuck if I want to do any kind of off property riding with her. My insurance company wasn’t very helpful, basically saying nothing inside was covered unless it was a dog (up to $1000) which is oddly specific but who knows. I felt like they didn’t know very much and they kept transferring me to other agents. I am definitely going to look into an umbrella policy just to be safe.