Fall. My most favorite time of the year. Fall marks the beginning of Friday night football, college football, local festivals and, of course, hunting season! There’s that magical feeling floating in the air this time of year, whether it’s the itch to get out into the dove fields and set up some Mojo decoys, or the images in my mind of that trophy buck slipping into the opening right at daylight. Whatever your game of choice, as you’re sitting around the campfire with your buddies the night before the big hunt, have you ever stopped to think about the liability such a venture creates? Of course not…but you should!
When you consider the hazards of hunting, the first thought is usually of accidental shootings. I strongly recommend everyone take a hunter safety course, even if it isn’t required in your state. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, this course has made a huge impact on accidental shootings. In 1968, there were 37 hunting-related fatalities in Texas. The state began requiring hunters take the hunter education course in 1988 and by 2013, fatalities decreased to three with over 1,225,000 licenses sold. The liability for these accidental shootings may be covered by your homeowners policy; however, limits might be insufficient. I would recommend looking into a personal umbrella policy to provide that extra layer of coverage in the event of such an accident.
In addition to potential liability for accidental shootings, there are many other items you should also consider before heading to the fields.
- ATV’s or other modes of transportation not licensed for road use. These items will be covered under a homeowners policy, but only if they are used at the home and only if they are used solely to service the property. You might check with your agent to schedule them on an auto policy to provide the coverage needed. See the blog post Got a Golf Cart? Get the Right Coverage for more on this.
- Guns. Many hunters spend BIG money on guns. Coverage for guns is provided under the personal property part of your homeowners policy, however, in many states there’s a limitation on the coverage for theft, and you would also be subject to your homeowners deductible should you suffer a loss. It may be best to schedule your firearms to avoid the deductible and any limitation for theft coverage. Consult with your independent agent on which option is right for you.
- Land Leasing. Because there are so few public lands for hunting, some landowners lease their land to hunters. If you lease your land, you should review your homeowner’s policy to make sure you have proper coverage. This might be considered a business pursuit and may not be covered under your homeowners policy. You might need to check with your independent insurance agent about a commercial policy. You will also want to make sure your lease agreement is worded correctly to provide as much coverage for you as possible. This is another thing your agent can help you with. For more on land leasing, see the blog post Hunt Up the Right Liability Coverage for Hunting Season!
Prior to the beginning of the season, sit down with your independent agent to discuss your hunting exposures. Once you hunt down the right coverage for your needs, you can fully concentrate on bagging that monster buck.