Insurance won't cover you if you behave illegally, but there are many grey areas in the new legislation says John Jackson
On 19 February next year, thousands of people who have been law-abiding citizens all their lives will become criminals if they continue foxhunting.
So where does insurance come into all this? Well, horses are insured, and so are riders, horseboxes and trailers. And that's just for starters - what of the insurance covering the land over which riders will pass?
It is a basic principle of insurance that you cannot claim for events caused by behaving illegally. So that's that then - you can't insure yourself, horse or horsebox if you hunt.
Well, not quite. For a start, who is to decide if the law has been broken?
Who, in many instances, will even know if the law has been broken? Hunts themselves are not banned, nor is riding over private land with the permission of the owner. Blowing a hunting horn is not illegal, nor the wearing of a pink hunting coat.
Legally, you will still be able to hunt rabbits and rats, or you can go draghunting. Or, at least, hunts can say that is what they are doing.
Hunting usually takes place from about 11am until dusk. What if you accidentally 'put up' a fox during this period? Are you uninsured from that moment on? Are you acting illegally? And who is going to report you - the police?
Where will they get the manpower, and how will they finance chasing foxhunters across many miles of open country? Thankfully, criminal prosecutions still require evidence.
The Council of Hunting Associations (CHA) has issued a declaration, Strategy Securing the Future. This explains that legal activities can be based on the exemptions listed in Schedule I of the Bill. These exemptions include "flushing" with two dogs, rabbit hunting and ratting. Legally, all flushing and "retrieval" will require at least one gun. The fox must be shot even if it has gone to ground. So much for "animal rights".
In Scotland, where hunting is already banned, the number of foxes killed has doubled. As turkeys do not vote for Christmas, so no fox would have voted for such a law north or south of the border.
On insurance, the CHA states: "Advice has been given to the effect that public liability cover could continue, subject to policy terms and conditions, as long as any breach of the law (for example, hounds hunting a fox) was inadvertent and unintentional."
The CHA has advised that kennel establishments, which are also insured, must be maintained as legal entities, and retain a nucleus of hounds, horses, equipment - such as vehicles - and sufficient staff. As such these should still be fully insured.
Incidentally, if your German shepherd, bulldog, or whatever kills a fox while out for walkies, are you a criminal - would you be insured? Fantasy? Beware, dog owners - the law talks of hunting with "dogs" - not "hounds".