2011 saw a landmark court case for golfing accidents when a player was awarded almost £400,000 in damages after being stuck by a wayward golf ball on a course in West Lothian and losing his sight in one eye.
The presiding judge found both the club and the player who struck the ball liable for the damages, despite the player having shouted “Fore!” It was a wake-up call for golfers and clear proof of the requirement for golfers to be in possession of adequate insurance when they head onto the golf course.
Doesn’t my household insurance cover me?
The answer is: probably not. Many golfers assume they’re insured for golf through their household insurance policy, but in the majority of instances this isn’t the case.
In recent years, “extras” like personal liability have been stripped from most household insurance policies to keep premiums down.
Many insurers will not include cover for sporting activity and, adding this cover to your home insurance could be significantly more than the cost of a bespoke golfing policy.
Personal liability on your home insurance may only apply to incidents that take place in the insured property. Not then on a golf course.
Insurance cover for loss, or theft, of golf equipment away from the home may not be included. Again you might have to pay an additional sum to your home insurer and, again, this could be more than the cost of a specific golfing insurance policy.
So you most probably do not have sufficient cover for golf under your home insurance and, even if you are able to make a claim, it’s likely to push your premiums up at renewal time and cause you to lose your no claims bonus.
But an accident happening is so unlikely…
Think again, every year there are 12,000 golfing related injuries that require hospital treatment: golf is a hazardous activity.
When you set foot on a golf course you, and all the other players around you, swing metal clubs with significant force to propel golf balls at high velocity, up to 280 yards through the air. Nobody on the course wears any protective clothing and around the boundaries of the course are often houses, cars and people within striking distance.
When you think of it like this, it’s amazing that only one in 10 golfers in the UK are adequately insured for personal liability. The consequences of being found liable for an accident could be severe for the uninsured golfer.
If a player were found liable in a case such as that in West Lothian described earlier, and they were uninsured and unable to pay, a Court Order would allow the victim to recover compensation by way of a Charging Order against the individual’s property. Possibly then an Order for Sale; the instruction of Bailiffs; the deduction of monies directly from the individual’s bank account and/or earnings directly from their employer. It could be financially ruinous.
Also, imagine the dilemma if you injured a friend on the golf course and you weren’t suitably insured. Would the injured party pursue a claim through the courts knowing the potential financial consequences for you? If they didn’t, how would you feel if they suffered a loss of earnings or medical costs as a result of the accident?
What else will golf insurance cover me for?
It’s not just for personal liability that specialist golf insurance is important. The policy will provide cover against personal accidents. It will also protect against property damage you may accidentally cause: a broken window or a dent in a car bonnet for example. Golf insurance policies will cover your equipment if it is damaged or stolen. Think about the value of your golf bag and its contents – maybe up to £2,000, or even more. Could you afford to replace the lot if someone stole it? As a little bonus, the policy will even settle your bar bill if you’re lucky enough to hit a hole-in-one.
Relax on the fairways
Having specialist golf insurance is clearly essential for a raft of practical reasons. It could also improve your game. It’s vital to relax on the golf course, to clear your mind of negative thoughts and enter “the zone.” It’s rather difficult to attain that level of composed concentration if you have a niggling fear over every shot that an errant strike could cost you thousands of pounds.
Take a look at your monthly outgoings, you’ll see insurance payments covering your life, house, car, washing machine, mobile phone, maybe even your dog. We’re used to covering ourselves against risk. Golf is a risky business and it’s something we should be suitably insured for.