General Liability for Bodily Injury and Property Damage
This policy covers third party bodily injury and property damage resulting from the negligence of an insured. Club members are insureds, so are scheduled landowners.
Member to Member Coverage
You see this coverage advertised all the time, what does it mean? Well it means a member that is sued by another member would have coverage because they are additional insureds on the policy. Some policies will exclude this coverage and members would be on their own if they are responsible for a covered injury to another member. With member to member coverage, the insurance company will defend the member being sued. This is a significant benefit to all hunt club members.
Some companies will exclude this type of claim via an endorsement called a “Cross Suit Exclusion”. If you have one of those you need to change companies. Hunt Lease Insurance is just far too inexpensive and way too available to have to settle for policy with this exclusion. Even if not purchasing from us, don’t opt for a policy with these exclusions. Same goes for claims stemming from Elevated Hunting Platforms (tree stands) or use of ATVs.
Other claims that would be effected by a “Cross Suit Exclusion” would be claims between the club and the landowner. And this type of claim is more common than you would think. Lastly, members suing the club would also be excluded by some of our competitors. Members sue the club or other members all the time: after all, this is America, and damages are always somebody else’s fault. The most economically significant claims would be excluded by such an endorsement. Mostly this type of endorsement is found on polices that are underwritten in other countries, particularly countries that like soccer and eat a lot of fish and chips and they have a big clock.
Don’t be fooled by this coverage, this is not a Health Insurance policy, medical payments means no fault coverage for claimants as a “good will” act by the insurance company to keep an injured party from bringing a larger lawsuit. Big note of caution and what clubs and members need to understand is that insureds are excluded from collecting on this benefit. So only guests and trespassers can really file a claim under this coverage. The bigger and more important coverage is that “Club Members” are insureds. Which is more important to you? Of course having $1,000,000 to protect you in a lawsuit is more important than $1,000 of medical payments coverage available for medical expenses when that is what health Insurance is for. Being an insured means you have a team of lawyers and a $1,000,000 on your side to defend you in case you cause bodily injury or property damage to a 3rd party.
No Membership Fees
We charge no membership fees and it is why we are often the most competitively priced policy available. Some hunting insurance policies are promoted through an organization, which the members of the club might be required to join in order to qualify for the insurance. See what the insurance fee covers and what, if any, other fees are required to be paid by the club or the members. Certificate fees are quite common, we have a one time a year fee of $15, other companies can charge the same for each certificate. So if you have multiple landowners your fees keep escalating.
Another benefit that is promoted by companies and agents but what is it? Simply put it means a guest can bring a claim against your club if they have bodily injury or property damage as a result of your negligence. Your guests will not be defended by the insurance company, they do not get the benefits of the policy, however, they can sue you and the club. The policy will defend insureds and additional insureds, but guests are neither.
Cost and Rating of a Policy?
The cost of a policy will vary from underwriter to underwriter and will vary depending upon the number of acres in your hunting lease. The annual costs start at around $285. That’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are financially protected. But watch out for the companies that charge membership fees and certificate fees. You need to know the fees upfront.
Sometimes Insurance is Not Enough
One of the best ways to reduce the possibility of you and your hunting club having to fall back on your liability insurance to represent you through a lawsuit is to keep the risks on your club property at a minimum. A lawsuit not only costs money but time, and lots of it. Here are just a few examples of potential accidents and ways to reduce your risk.
- Have members and guests sign a liability waiver each year.
- If there are any old hand-dug wells on the property, they should be filled and covered.
- All property lines should be well marked, to keep the club members on their property and warning others not to trespass.
- If the club has a shooting range, it should be well marked so no one will enter the area without intending to.
- Old tree stands account for many falls. Once a permanent stand becomes unstable, it should be torn down.
- Have a property map where the club members can mark where they are hunting. If someone fails to return from a hunt, you know where to go looking for them.
- Have camp and firearm safety rules, and enforce them.
- Install smoke detectors in the clubhouse.
- Have fire extinguishers on hand in the camp kitchen and near fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. Keep the charge current.
- Have emergency phone numbers posted so all members can see them.
- Have a plan in case of an emergency or if a member is missing.
- Offer an annual hunter safety refresher class for the members.
These are just a few ways a club can reduce the chance of having an accident that could require the use of your insurance. A good club policy is to have a club member serve as a risk-reduction officer and make it his responsibility to find risks and eliminate them before they become a liability.
Most landowners allowing hunters to hunt on their property require the hunters to sign a liability release form, where the hunter is warned about the many potential dangers of hunting on the property and acknowledges they are aware of these dangers and accept the risks. Now a growing number of hunting clubs are requiring their members and guest hunters to sign a similar liability release, acknowledging they know of the many potential dangers of hunting and accept those risks, holding the hunting club and its members harmless in the event of an accident. If your club decides to use a liability waiver, it should be prepared by an attorney in the state in which the club property is located.
A sample liability waiver can be found on this website. The waiver is not a replacement for a liability insurance, your club still needs the insurance but the waiver just sets a record for proving the person who signed it knew the risks and chose to hunt anyway.
I would never be in a hunting club that didn’t have a solid, up-to-date liability insurance policy. It is a small expense, as hunting club expenses go, and it gives the members protection that they hope they will never need.