Do Horse-Drawn Carriages Require Insurance to Operate on Roadways?

The horse has always been an animal that draws attention from the crowd. Theme parks and amusement parks love to incorporate horses and horse-drawn carriages into their venues. This opens up a lot of interest in horse and carriage operations. But, horse owner liability and insurance needed can vary depending on the use of the horse-drawn carriage in various situations and in differing venues. Do horse-drawn carriages require insurance to operate on roadways? Here’s what you need to know for various scenarios:

Scenario #1: Horse and Carriage as a Service

The first scenario is where you, the horse owner, are charging the public a fee for the equine service you are providing or taking rate in horse and carriage operations. This could have several different looks but the most common would be that of offering some type of carriage or wagon ride.

Weddings are a great event for the pageantry of the horse-drawn vehicle. Cinderella Carriages are quite common for this type of setting; bring the bride to the ceremony and then “whisk the couple away” at the conclusion. Hack operations, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, and proms are more examples of where the horse and carriage add a special touch.

In all cases, there is a liability exposure from varying angles. In every situation, there are people around the horse and carriage in differing numbers. The wedding could be one hundred guests plus; the birthday party, ten to twenty, and the prom several hundred. All of these settings are highly emotional and memory-creating events.

Smartphone cameras are snapping pictures, everyone is jockeying for the best angle, and no one is paying attention to the mood of the horse. Suddenly, we have the perfect storm for a catastrophe. The horse and carriage operator/owner can be held responsible for any, and all bodily injury and property damage that is caused by the horse and carriage. This is one of the reasons why you need horse and carriage insurance.

Additionally, the event may take the carriage onto public roads and highways. In most cases, the State Department of Motor Vehicles does not require a “license”, but a local jurisdiction may require registration or a permit to operate. Regardless, the owner/operator will be liable in the event of an accident. Carriage liability insurance is a must, and it may be required by the party hosting or allowing the equine activity to take place.

Scenario #2: Horse and Carriage for Personal Use

The other situation where the horse and carriage or horse-drawn vehicle is being used would be where the owner of the horse is using the event for their own personal use or pleasure. For example, the Amish and conservative Mennonite communities use horses and carriages as their mode of travel on public highways.

These communities as well as some others use horse-drawn equipment to do agricultural farming. There is a liability exposure here the same as someone driving their auto on the public road or using their tractor in the field or driving down the country road.

In these situations, the law usually does not require insurance, but the owner of the horse is still responsible for any bodily injury or property damage caused by the horse and equipment. That brings us back again to the same conclusion where insurance is not required by law, but it makes good economic sense to have liability insurance to protect your assets against a lawsuit.

Do Horse-Drawn Carriages Require Insurance to Operate on Roadways?

In summary, horse-drawn carriages and horse-drawn equipment do not need insurance to be operated on or off public roads. Special permitting may be required depending on the jurisdiction. But, comprehensive liability and equine insurance are highly recommended because the horse owner/operator may be held liable for any and all damages caused by the horse and carriage.

If you have additional questions or wish to discuss specifics related to your horse operation, please contact our agency and one of our agents/account managers will be happy to chat with you. We can be reached at 800-537-6880 or 717-665-2283. You can also email us at

Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.