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Hunting Liability Concerns: Are You Covered?

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Hunting season is underway. If you’re a landowner, there are some liability risks. Are you covered?

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.

know liability issues when hunters are on your landAccording 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."

Read more suggestions from SCA here.

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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Discuss this Blog Entry 5

on Nov 13, 2013

When I used to ask for permission to hunt from land owners I used to present them with a signed form at our first meeting that held them harmless in case I was injured. Now that I have my own land we don't allow others to hunt in part due to liability.

Jim Turner (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2013

This is a great post Amanda and one that should not only be shown to landowners but to the hunting community as well. Many hunters don;t think of the ramifications of getting permission to hunt and the implied liabilities born by that transaction alone. I can see down the road a waiver of liability, and insurance policies and...well you get the idea. Hunter's need to respect the landowner and know their side.

Bryan (not verified)
on Nov 13, 2013

I hunt and farm so I see it from both sides. When I am hunting in Wyoming I sign a liability waiver with the outfitter whom leases the ranches we hunt. At home in Missouri we have a law that as long as you as the landowner do not charge a person to hunt you are not liable if they are injured. However if you do charge the hunter to hunt you can be held liable and should carry something on your policy.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 19, 2013

This is a very important addressed that many land owenrs don't consider. I think more awarness of this issue should be addressed because many landowners get caught up in messes of this.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 21, 2013

In regards to the Pheasant capitol of the world article. I am from from South Dakota as well as he is, and if he was to check the state laws it states that if you charge any sort of fee then yes you are liable. If you allow hunters to hunt without a fee their is no liability to the farmer or rancher.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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