Letter to Owners from the BE Board
Dear Event Horse Owner,
Thank you for your continued support of eventing especially over the past few months. We are certain that you share our eagerness to recommence our sport as soon as we can whilst doing everything we can to minimise the risk.
We are conscious that there is much discussion about several topics and thought an update from the Board would be timely.
We have furloughed all but eight of our staff and are continuing work on EARs including integration options with the working group (made up of scorers, entry secretaries and organisers) to improve system performance in readiness for a restart. We are also focussed on assessing the affordability of services given an anticipated drop in membership levels and are working on several income and cost scenarios for 2021. We are in a reasonable position for the remainder of 2020 with some difficult decisions already taken and with more to come.
Also relevant to this and so worth mentioning is that our Chair and CEO are participants in the recently formed BEF Joint Collaboration Group which has the objective of looking at ways that BE, BS and BD can work together to reduce cost and drive efficiencies.
We are delighted that our newly appointed British Eventing Advisory Group; Capt. Mark Philips, Mike Etherington-Smith, Helen West and Stuart Buntine are supporting us in evaluating changes for the future. It is fantastic to be able to leverage this group to enable us to look to the future in parallel with the focus on managing the immediate challenges.
So, turning now to one of those challenges. We know many of you have been impacted by the issue we are having with securing payment from the underwriters for cessation of sport due to COVID19. As you may recall this happened on 16th March, and earlier that day the BE Board had met and decided to continue with events as planned until such time as we received more information from the government. At this time, we were still awaiting a reply to our request for confirmation that COVID related abandonment causes would be covered. That evening Boris made the announcement banning non-essential contact with others, to stop all unnecessary travel, and removing emergency services support from mass gatherings, after many phone calls the Board unanimously agreed we should reverse our decision and announce that sport would not run. This might seem like a questionable decision given the unanswered question from the insurers however we considered the government’s instruction gave us no choice regardless. We could not be seen to go against the government and nor could any of us survive the media and social backlash should falls result in admissions to the NHS. Another consideration was that waiting even one more day increased the abandonment costs significantly acting in a way so as not to increase the risk or likelihood of loss is a requirement under the insurance policy which is also why this is relevant.
Our abandonment claim amounts to £385k. For context, to date this policy has paid in excess of £6m since 2009 not much less than the premiums paid and has provided ample cover over the years. We are in a legal claim process now and having had the expected robust exchange of each parties’ positions we are entering the next stage of discussing settlement. This as you can appreciate is a very sensitive phase and we are committed to getting all the monies owed paid. It is because we are at this stage that our lawyers have advised that whilst members are entitled to see the policy any comment or opinion shared on social media or in communication direct to the insurers may adversely impact the negotiation- you will understand this is not a legal point but a tactical one. The other risk is if a member decides to embark on an individual or group claim that will negate the all member claim we are pursuing, and we would have to start again.
We have of course been working with our organisers to put plans in place for a resumption of sport, and after several weeks of consultation with a sub-set of organisers and the BEOA last week we issued the Sport Resumption plan to all organisers. This remains an evolving document and will remain under development as we update it to be in line with new requirements and guidance as these are released. The Members Sports Resumption brief (a short version of the document shared with organisers) can be found here.
We hope this provides you with a clear understanding of the work we are doing to manage our short-term challenges and longer-term planning for the future of our sport. There is so much to look forward to and with training underway we can all feel we are that bit closer to coming back.
If you have any questions or comments we would be most grateful if you would provide these through Linda Allan (Event Horse Owners Association Chair) and we will reply in the same way.
The British Eventing Board of Directors
Fiona O’Hara (Chair),