I live in the pheasant hunting capital of the world, and this time of year, my lonely gravel road turns into a busy freeway as orange-clad hunters scan the ditches looking for the wily rooster.
Many landowning ranchers monopolize on this surge of tourists each fall, offering hunting packages for folks to walk their private land during the season. We’ve always welcomed friends and family to come hunt, but we are often asked by strangers for hunting permission, as well.
Anytime someone sets foot on your property, there are liability issues to consider. Now is a good time to double check your insurance and make sure you’re covered if a hunter has an accident on your ground.
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If you have some vacant land you allow hunters to walk through, does your regular farm liability insurance cover you for accidents? Probably not, says law firm Swingle Collins & Associates (SCA), Dallas, TX.
According to SCA, “Chances are good the current liability insurance covering your property – whether it’s a homeowners policy or a special farm and ranch-type policy – won’t provide the protection you need. This is especially true if the land is owned by or you will be operating the hunting activity with an entity (partnership, trust, corporation, etc.), rather than yourself individually. In the first place, those policies contain 'business pursuits' exclusions, precluding coverage for almost any kind of moneymaking activity, except farming or ranching in the case of a farm and ranch-type policy. The only safe approach for covering liability exposures arising out of land leased or rented to hunters is to purchase a special policy.”
If you have to pay more to cover these hunters, and you aren’t charging a hunting fee, it might seem like the best policy is to just say no and keep your ground to family only. Of course, this is a personal preference, but there are certainly some risks to allowing strangers to hunt your land.
Another suggestion from SCA is this, "Before you allow hunting on your land, ask the hunter to provide evidence of liability insurance, such as a certificate of insurance or a copy of the policy. Will the hunter bring a hired helper or employee? If so, you should also request evidence of workers’ compensation insurance."
Do you allow hunters to roam your pastures and fields? If so, what kind of coverage do you have? Are you fully covered? Or are you uncertain? Now might be a good time to call your policy holder and double check. Have a happy and safe hunting season.
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