Chances are, if you searched for information or guidance on which type of insurance policy (hunting lease or vacant land) was best suited to protect you and your property, you have landed here. Good news! You have come to the right place to have all your questions answered. Moreover, you will leave armed with the knowledge and confidence to secure the appropriate coverage affordably and responsibly for your vacant land.
Getting Started In Owning Land with Land Insurance
Let’s begin with a simple congratulations. As a landowner, you are one of a very select group of Americans. Those who can lay claim to owning a piece of coveted ground. It is also likely that you worked hard. Saved your money and planned for this day, and the only thing left to do is sit back, relax and enjoy owning your own property.
A considerable part of enjoying your land is sharing it with others. Additionally, you may allow friends and family to hunt deer. Or co-workers to fish in a pond, or even you may have purchased land to lease access to a hunt club. As outdoorsmen and women, the American Hunting Lease Association is grateful that you allow any type of access and know that generous landowners like yourself are the key to preserving habitat.
However, allowing access to anyone for any reason comes with significant risk to you and your assets. Not to worry, those risks are easily and affordably addressed. The important part is to make sure you have the appropriate coverage.
2 Forms of Access
There are basically two fundamental access to the private ground: Compensated and non-compensated. As the landowner, you are being paid for others to access your land. Or you are sharing the resource for no charge to your guests. Each type of access requires its own type of policy. Buying the wrong type of coverage can result in a liability claim being denied. Leaving you to pay for your legal defense and any resulting damages.
To better understand which type best suits your needs, let’s look at each type.
Hunting Lease (aka Hunt Club) Liability Insurance.
Hunting lease insurance is particular to who and what is covered by the policy. Also, it is the only type of coverage that will protect you if you are charging a fee for others to access your land. Hunting leases have become very popular all over the country. Mostly for their innate ability to make accessing quality habitat possible without having to own land. Likewise, landowners that don’t hunt or are looking for additional revenue streams. Win by having hunters pay to hunt and recreate on their land.
There are two critical components to a hunting lease arrangement that make hunt club insurance the right choice. First, there is an agreement between all parties to exchange money for access. The amount of money is not relevant. Only that some money will be paid to the landowner for the right to hunt. The second component is that the agreement is written and signed. Typically, this is done in a hunting lease contract in which both parties (landowner and hunt club) agree on an amount and other details such as dates and game to be hunted.
Hunting lease insurance covers all parties (landowners and hunters) involved for liability damages made accidentally to the other. It is important to note that everyone listed on the hunting lease is included but only for hunting-related activities on the land described in the hunting lease. Guests outside of the hunt club that may access your property are not included in this coverage.
If you have hunters hunting on your land and they are paying for the right to hunt. Then you MUST purchase hunting lease liability insurance.
Vacant Land Liability Insurance
Maybe you bought your property because you were tired of always looking for a safe place to take your kid’s hunting, or maybe you lost the rights to hunt on the ground you had hunted for years and vowed to never go through that again. Regardless of why you now own your own place, and you are passionate about hunting and sharing it with those that are close to you. Vacant land insurance
protects you from any claims made against you by guests you have invited and even those you didn’t. It may be hard to believe that an old friend would sue you for damages he suffered when he fell into a well or tripped on a down fence while walking on your property. The reality is that he may not have a choice when faced with mounting medical bills. Even if you are found not to be liable for damages, the resulting court costs could leave you broke with no alternative but to sell your land. Which is why land insurance is so crucial.
Vacant land insurance (sometimes called timberland insurance) offers no protection for your guests. This policy only protects you, the landowner, from lawsuits. Additionally, vacant land insurance protects you from claims made by trespassers! Again, it’s hard to believe someone that is stealing access could file a lawsuit and claim negligence on your part, but they can and do. This policy would defend you in court and pay for damages you are found legally responsible for paying.
In short, if you share access to your property for free and make no money from allowing access, then you MUST purchase Vacant Land Liability Insurance to protect you and your personal assets.
Do I Need Both Policies?
If you have read this article to this point is probably easy to understand why you might be well served to have both types of coverage. If you have hunters paying for the right to hunt on your ground AND you have guests access your ground during non-hunting seasons for any number of reasons, the answer is YES. To best cover yourself from claims made against you, regardless if the claim is made by a paying hunter or family friend that you gave permission to, you should have the full complement of coverage.
The American Hunting Lease Association
MANY YEARS AGO, the AHLA was created to provide valuable information and guidance to landowners and hunters. Over the years, we have evolved to understand the importance of all types of access and work diligently to provide
landowners with every tool and resource we can to make their dream of land ownership simple and enjoyable.
Both types of insurance can be purchased through the American Hunting Lease Association at www.ahuntinglease.org