Why should hunters insist on hunting liability insurance? While no one likes to think about the potential risks, hunting can be a dangerous activity. Hunting insurance provides a welcome safety net. The right policy protects both the people who own the land used for hunting and hunting-related activities and the hunters who utilize it.
How Hunting Insurance Safeguards Landowners
Whether you hunt on your own property, invite trusted friends to hunt with you or lease your land to a group of hunters for a fee, you cannot afford to proceed without this insurance. Sadly, accidents can happen to even the most careful people, and there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong when you are in the woods. If disaster strikes, a lawsuit is likely to follow, and as a landowner, you have to be concerned about potential liability issues. If you think that your homeowners insurance will protect you, think again. While it may offer some coverage for property owners injured while hunting on their own land, it generally does not extend to other hunters. This means that if a guest or a member of a hunting club that has leased your property for hunting is injured on your land, then your land, your savings and your family’s financial security could all be at risk. Hunting insurance fills this gap, sheltering your personal assets in the event of a hunting accident.
How Hunting Insurance Benefits Hunters
Like landowners, hunters can find themselves dealing with liability issues if they are injured or involved in an accident that injures someone else or causes property damage. Hunting insurance shields their personal assets and prevents a hunting disaster from causing a financial catastrophe for their families. Do you need another reason to embrace hunting insurance? Consider this: without hunting insurance, hunters might have a hard time finding a place to hunt. The amount of public land available for hunting is limited. In some areas, the only places to hunt are on private lands. This can make it possible for landowners to lease their land for hunting without endangering their own financial security, so there is a good chance that it increases the number of landowners willing to agree to hunting leases.
The Trouble With Waivers
Whether you are a landowner or a hunting club, insisting that everyone who hunts on the property has to sign a waiver is a good idea. The trouble with waivers is that they do not offer enough protection. While they do provide written proof that a hunter is aware of hunting’s inherent dangers, waivers are no substitute for liability insurance.
Features to Look for in a Hunting Policy
How can you tell if a hunting policy is a good fit for your needs? Experts generally recommend that hunters and landowners choose a liability policy that includes:
- An appropriate amount of coverage for general liability
- A sufficient general aggregate, which refers to the maximum the insurer will pay for all claims during the policy period
- Coverage for member-to-member happenings
- Coverage for incidents that involve guests
When considering policies, check carefully for any exclusions that might leave you vulnerable. Be certain that you will be getting enough coverage for incidents that involve the activities and tools that are commonly used by outdoorsmen and hunters, including all-terrain vehicles, tree stands, watercraft, fire, hunting dogs and firearms.
Additional Ways to Limit Risk
If an accident results in injury or property damage, a good hunting liability insurance policy is invaluable. However, it is not the only way to reduce your risk. When it comes to limiting your exposure to risk, prevention can be an effective strategy. After all, it is highly unlikely that you will find yourself facing a serious lawsuit for an accident that never happened. If you want to be proactive about decreasing the odds of an accident or injury, you can:
- Create a culture where safety-mindedness and respect are expected
- Offer annual hunter safety courses
- Address hazards like unstable tree stands, old wells and abandoned fencing
- Select a risk-reduction officer to identify and mitigate potential hazards
- Require everyone who uses the property to learn and follow firearm safety rules
- Post a map of the property and encourage anyone hunting to mark the area where they plan to hunt before entering the woods
- Verify that all property lines are clearly marked to prevent trespassing
- Ensure that any hunting club building have working smoke detectors installed
- Install fire extinguishers in the vicinity of all fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and indoor and outdoor cooking areas
- Prepare for scenarios like missing members or forest fires by developing emergency response plans