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Insuring Shows


Who pays the bill if


  • a tractor on loan or hire to a society running a dog show damages a gate

  • an exhibitor twists their ankle on a hole in the show ground that should have been filled?

  • a judge bends down to examine a dog and his new jacket catches on a road iron and rips it down the back?

  • a steward breaks his dentures on a piece of bone in a home made stew while having his lunch?


If the show is insured the insurance company pays - and pays the legal costs in fighting a claim if it is not a valid one.


The Kennel Club insists the minimum that any show society should be insured for these days is for claims up to £2,50,000 and many show venues demand that societies are insured for claims up to £5,000,000. Claims of this magnitude do not often occur – that is why third party insurance is relatively inexpensive - but one serious incident could easily bankrupt every member of the committee of a canine society if they were not covered against third party claims.


One type of policy to beware of is the single premium ‘special events' policy that is available from your local insurance broker and which is often used to give third party cover to organisers of church fetes or fund-raising dances. They are quite expensive for the short period of cover given and at least one schedule from a well-known insurance company explicitly excludes animals in its small print! Another company, which sells a remarkably cheap policy, is so hedged around with restrictions that it is virtually worthless. You have to remember that insurance is a business like any other and you only get what you pay for in the long run.


In 1983 Showsurance was set up with the advice and assistance of David Paton, member of Lloyds and after lengthy discussions with the Kennel Club. From the start the scheme was arranged to exactly fulfill the requirements of canine society committees.  Cover could therefore be provided not only for Third Party Liability and Food Poisoning but Cancellation, Employers Liability, Personal Accident, claims from committee, stewards and judges and Loss or Theft of Cash as well as Fidelity (insurance against a member of the society embezzling the funds - it does happen sometimes.


Showsurance has the advantage that the policy covers the society for all its activities throughout the year so long as they are consistent with its aims. The society is therefore automatically insured for member-to-member liability, committee meetings, Companion Dog Shows, fund raising activities and seminars as well as its annual Christmas Party.


On the other hand, insurance cannot and does not cover every eventuality. If your dog bites another dog or a person, that is not the responsibility of the show management - that is your own responsibility and you should make sure that your ordinary householders policy covers you against such accidents. However, if a dog that has behaved in a way which shows an unstable temperament (it tries to bite someone for instance) and a member of the committee a steward or other official representative of the organisation indicates that the dog can remain with in the showground or go in to the ring to be judged and then it bites somebody, the society could be held to have not acted responsibly and so could be liable.


 A central problem is that insurances do not cover people involved in an activity classified by the Underwriters as ‘dangerous’. The effect of this is that you can take out general cover for a member of the public getting bitten by your dog as explained above and the insurance would pay up but they would be unlikely to do so if you were putting yourself in a position that the insurers would regard as dangerous. Going into a ring full of dogs that that you don't know and might bite, comes under that heading. So judges are undertaking what is classified as ‘normal professional risk’. The same applies to those who act as bait in training guard dogs – it is difficult to get cover from any insurance company for these sorts of risks just as your personal accident policy will not pay up if you are killed or maimed while rock climbing or skiing without a very hefty premium!


In the examples given at the beginning of this article no one was seriously injured or hurt but canine societies should be aware that serious injuries could occur at a show because the committee has neglected to do something and permanent disability claims can run to hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Kennel Club emphasises that those who are guarantors to a show are personally liable for any debts that the society is unable to pay. Insurance is worthwhile!


Showsurance can also provide Third Party Liability insurance for Groomers, Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters and other small businesses concerned with pet animal care.

For full Terms and Condition please click on this link

Click here for a proposal form

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