Liability Concerns for Hunting Land Owners

I own some vacant land and farm land that I want to lease to groups of hunters and also allow some daily hunting by individual hunters. What kind of liability insurance should I purchase to protect me in case someone is hurt while hunting on my land? Isn’t there a law that gives me immunity for this?

We’re glad you asked, because 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 money-making 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. Ask your SwingleCollins agent for more information. He or she can help you select the right policy and discuss what limit of liability you should carry.

Legal Limitations on Liability

You may have heard that a state law provides immunity for landowners who allow hunters to use their land. That’s not quite correct. In Texas, Chapter 75 of the Civil Remedies and Practices Code limits the legal duties landowners owe to persons using their land for recreational purposes and limits the monetary damages that can be collected if injury arises out of the land’s use.

The law applies to an owner, lessee or occupant of real property (1) who does not charge for recreational use of the premises, or (2) who charges for such use but the charges collected in the previous calendar year for all recreational use of the entire premises do not exceed more than 20 times the amount of ad valorem taxes imposed on the premises for the previous calendar year.

Damages are limited to a maximum of $500,000 per person/$1 million per occurrence for bodily injury and $100,000 for property damage. The limitation applies only if the landowner has liability insurance in effect with the same or greater limits (or $1 million combined single limit). This does not eliminate the need for higher limits of liability because of some exceptions in the law, including an allegation of gross negligence.

Other Considerations

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.

If you have an employee such as a caretaker who will be working on the land during hunting season, you may need workers’ compensation insurance. Ask your SwingleCollins agent about your options.

 

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