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Hunting leases open up excellent opportunities for hunters to legally access some of the best hunting grounds in the nation and present a source of income for landowners. Hunting leases can reduce trespassing, provide a way for state wildlife agents to prosecute illegal hunting, and reduce nuisance populations of wild animals. When injuries happen on a hunting lease, figuring out who is liable is complex and can quickly ruin a carefully-cultivated relationship between the landowner and the hunter. A solution to the problem is a hunting lease insurance policy that clearly labels when and how liability is assigned in the case of injury.
The key to getting coverage through a hunting lease insurance policy is choosing the best policy to cover the types of risks that are present. Policies are available for hunters and landowners, and it is highly recommended that both parties hold policies. Many policies are written to cover both parties simultaneously.
What do Hunting Lease Insurance Policies Cover?
Hunting lease insurance policies are intended to provide financial coverage in the case of injuries or damages that occur. In general, a landowner may be held liable for any injuries or damages that occur as a result of dangerous conditions the owner knew about but did not correct or notify the hunters about. In broad terms, a landowner may incur damages from hunters who cause damage to the property.
Standard policy coverage for hunting lease insurance policies includes:
- $1,000,000 per occurrence / $2,000,000 Aggregate
- Fire Damage Liability ($100,000)
- Medical expenses ($5000) – accident coverage unrelated to Liability
In addition to these basic coverages, a hunting lease insurance policy should include coverage for:
- Member-to-Member Coverage
- Guest Liability Coverage
- Liability coverage for Tree Stands
- Coverage for ATV accidents
- Hunting Agreements vs Insurance
A hunting agreement is a great way for the landowner and the hunter to constructively work out the rules and regulations that will apply when hunting the property. This can include what areas are open and to whom, when and where ATVs and other vehicles can be driven, what game can be taken, and who is responsible for things like trash collection and repairs due to wear and tear from use. It should also detail the financial terms of the arrangement.
An agreement is an important document that should be drafted upon the parties deciding on the lease. It is a key way that both parties can protect themselves from certain liability and ensures that all parties are aware of what the expectations are from each other.
Insurance provides financial backing in the event that an injury or damages occur. It should be pointed out that in many cases, an agreement can’t overrule the law, so even if certain conditions are set in the agreement, injuries and damages could still result in a case. An insurance policy will also cover things that the average homeowner and hunter might not consider. This includes things like guests on the property that injure each other, accidental or intentional damage to neighboring properties, and even freak accidents like structure fires due to ricocheted.
Many insurance policies are written from a generalized form established by the insurance company. While this document might cover the majority of incidents, it can also be too broad to provide effective coverage. Policies should clearly list how the policy applies in a variety of situations that relate directly to hunting. This includes things like accidental shootings of people, pets, and livestock, damage to farm equipment and outbuildings, and injuries from accidents.
Policies need to clearly list the individuals who are covered and provide exemptions for those who are not allowed on the property. In many instances, these policies are written for hunting clubs that might represent numerous members who are only loosely affiliated. In this case, the policy should include protections for member-to-member injuries and clearly list who, when, and how hunting club members will advise each other about when they are hunting the property. The policy should cover things like when portable tree stands can be used, and how liability is covered in tree stands owned by the landowner but available for the hunters to use.
The costs of a hunting lease insurance policy are typically related to the size of the property and the types of risks that are present. Insurance policies are sold at a by-the-acre cost, so larger properties will have a higher cost. Policies that carry additional coverage beyond the standard will also cost more, but in most cases, additional coverage is affordable.
Landowners should never allow any leaseholders onto their property without having at least a minimum policy on hand. This will ensure they are covered no matter what happens and typically will establish very clear legal boundaries to separate liability according to the type of incident. The costs of the policy may be borne by the lease fee paid by hunters.
Hunters and hunting clubs should carry their own policies. An additional policy ensures that everyone is covered in case of an accident or carelessness, protects the members, and protects the club itself. Hunting club policies are interchangeable with hunting lease insurance policies and provide the same type of coverage but written specifically to address the unique circumstances of hunting clubs and their members.
Choosing the best hunting lease insurance policy involves a lot more than just finding the lowest-cost policy on the market. It is vital that property owners and hunters explore their options when shopping for a policy to find a carrier that will cover the unique types of injuries most likely to happen. Policies should provide coverage for basic injuries and accidents, coverage for damage to property that includes fire protection, and a policy that covers any person who is hunting the property.
An insurance policy is important even when the landowner and the hunter or hunting club have a hunting agreement in place. Both documents support one another, but an agreement may not provide the optimal coverage under the law that an insurance policy will provide.
Additionally, we have a pretty interesting article about How To Finance Hunting Land!