New York Horsemen Negotiate Workers Compensation Insurance

Horsemen Workers Compensation

Thoroughbred horse owners and trainers in New York have finally found a solution to the rising costs of workers’ compensation with regards to coverage for jockeys and other riders. The new state budget in Albany now allows the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund to negotiate directly with insurers to cover a wider range of workers in the industry. Previously, only jockeys had been covered.

An industry group estimates workers’ compensation costs came to 11% of payroll for jockeys, exercise riders, and apprentice jockeys five years ago. Today, this figure has reached 25% in order to provide coverage for injuries on and off the tracks. This is clearly a major cost to keep under control.

Industry officials like Richard Violette Jr., president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which represents owners and trainers at New York Racing Association had long complained about the rising payroll costs which were directly correlated to workers’ compensation costs.

With this new move, it is clear that small players (owners and trainers) can now have more assets to employ more people and likely grow their own businesses as the rising costs arising from workers’ compensation can now be put under a more open financial control.

The new coverage plan could possibly have some kind of “hybrid” self-insurance coverage, which would utilize a high deductible coverage for the most serious injuries, allowing insurers to reduce premiums. In addition, previously uncovered backstretch workers would be covered in the Jockey Injury Compensation Fund.

The coverage plan would have to be approved by the state Gaming Commission and meet requirements of a state’s workers’ compensation board. Tracks will have to develop the safety rules for training activities such as required response to loose horses, bans on cell phone use while mounted, and requirements for jogging, galloping, and breezing. This is no doubt a bid to have the best possible outcome for a plan with the insurance companies where both the owners and trainers can have real savings for their businesses.