HBPA, AQHA To Host Insurance Summit at Arizona Racing Symposium

The National Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) will host a horse racing industry summit on insurance on Tuesday, December 10, at the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing.

The summit will focus on the feasibility of a national insurance program for the racing industry, which could potentially include workers' compensation, horsemen's group health and accident insurance, jockey insurance, participant coverage, track liability and other insurance topics brought up by participants.

"This problem isn't going to go away," Remi Bellocq, NHBPA Executive Director, said. "We haven't seen underwriting come back as quickly as we'd like. We need to face this issue head on."

The goal will be to draw up an action plan to try to help coordinate industry efforts to address the insurance problems currently faced by the horse racing industry. Organizations are encouraged to bring as many representatives as they wish, but to limit participants in the strategic planning session to two.

The free summit will host a panel presentation followed by an open forum starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The moderator will be Lonny Powell, President and CEO of Racing Commissioners International.

Panelists include Dr. Price Fishback, Professor of Economics at the University of Arizona, a published author on the subject of workers' compensation. Dr. Fishback will give an historical overview of current workers' compensation issues in horse racing and the results of a survey of workers' compensation laws, racing industry regulations, costs and coverages in most racing states. John Roark, the president of the National HBPA and a practicing attorney with over 35 years of experience in litigating workers' compensation cases, will address the issue from a general horseman's perspective and give an update on how the issue has affected a number of key racing states. Ed Halpern, Executive Director and General Counsel for the California Thoroughbred Trainers, will speak on his role in a possible resolution of the recent workers' compensation crisis and report on the new AIG workers' compensation insurance program in California. David Hoskins, Senior Vice-President from Andreini & Company, will serve as an expert on property and casualty insurance and speak on a possible solution to the national workers' compensation problem. Chris Scherf, Executive Vice-President of Thoroughbred Racing Associations, has a working knowledge and extensive experience in various industry-related insurance programs. Bob Flynn, Executive Director of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, will review the approach in New York which created a separate state workers' compensation fund for jockeys and exercise riders. In addition representatives from the Jockeys' Guild will address the need for an all-inclusive national insurance program for jockeys.

There will be a special presentation given by Linda Mills, President of the Florida HBPA, and Randall Hampton, Vice President of McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Inc., titled "A New Approach in Florida". Facing an increasingly difficult situation in securing workers' compensation insurance, Florida horsemen are looking at a new approach in their state, which focuses on "cost per stall" basis of calculating risk. This approach also places a premium on better policing of claims, and record keeping of loss histories.

Tuesday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m., participants will meet in a strategic planning session to develop action plans and appoint work groups to move ahead on possible long-term solutions.

"We need to address insurance and horse racing from a national perspective like we are with medication," said Dan Fick, the AQHA Executive Director of Racing. "This industry needs to provide adequate coverage for all of the backstretch workers and participants on horseback. There are too many injuries that are slipping through the cracks while the horsemen are paying outrageous rates in some states. The processing for claims is slow and the investigation of fraud is often non-existent. We want to look at this from a long-term prospective. The industry should not expect any quick fixes from this summit."

A report of the recommendations from the strategic planning session will be given during an "Industry Initiatives" panel on Wednesday during the Arizona Racing Symposium. The summit will be held in the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

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