Hunting and Ranching Insurance Explained
The great outdoors will never go out of style. Weekends at the lake or the family ranch are among the best opportunities for families and friends to gather. Before you pack the SUV and hit the road, you likely consider: What activities do I have planned? Do I have guests joining me? Are my belongings accounted for?
Are you considering the same questions when it comes to your personal risk and the weekend ahead? With rural homes and family ranches come unique risks and exposures—and all insurance coverage is not created equal. The proper coverage is fundamental in protecting your personal property and liability, especially when it comes to complex risks such as hunting leases and shared property, firearms, or recreational vehicles.
Rural Homes and Ranches
First, is the property a rural home or a true ranch?
Simply, a rural home is a property located in a remote area, where as a ranch typically involves livestock (cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, etc.), farm equipment (tractor, plow, field cultivators, seeders/ planters, etc.) and/or farm operations (boarding horses, cattle operations, harvesting crops for a profit, etc.). While a homeowners policy can easily cover a rural home, a true ranch property will need more robust coverage under a farm and ranch policy. Farm and ranch policies are highly customizable and are specifically designed to cater to the work and activities conducted on the property, such as protection for livestock, feed, machinery, and equipment.
Hunting leases are a great way to reap the benefits of ranch life without all of the responsibilities of ownership. Liability for a hunting lease can be extended from the lessee’s primary home, providing coverage for the leased property in a relatively cost-efficient manner. This coverage is imperative for protecting your personal risk, especially if you invite guests to hunt on the leased property. Always discuss details with your risk advisor, such as the property’s use, your planned activities to be conducted on the property, and who will be physically on the premises.
Going to a family ranch, lease, or the range is typically a low risk event for firearms, as they are often kept in a secure location when not in use. However, a big game hunt involving extensive travel is a different story. Often, this involves checking guns at an airport or shipping them to your destination, leaving your firearms and equipment in the hands of inexperienced — often careless — third parties.
In order to provide protection for a firearm itself, we recommend scheduling it on your valuables policy before traveling. Most homeowners policies have very limited coverage for firearms, if any. A valuables policy can provide worldwide coverage and is not subject to a deductible. Though these polices can be costly, they may be necessary depending on the value of the firearm and your unique firearm risk exposure.
For property to be considered “vacant land,” it cannot host any structures, meaning it must be free of houses, barns, sheds, deer stands, etc. Once it is confirmed that the land is vacant, you can simply extend liability insurance through your homeowners policy to cover this property.
Proper liability coverage is vital if the land is being used for hunting or other recreational activities. In conjunction with liability insurance, we recommend posting “No Trespassing” signs around the vacant property to make your presence known to potential hunters.
Recreational Vehicle Liability
A common misconception about ATVs and similar recreational vehicles is that they are automatically covered for liability under the homeowners policy. This is only true if the vehicle remains at the insured location; the moment you drive it off the location, or tow it up the road, coverage under the homeowners policy ceases.
To ensure proper coverage, we recommend scheduling all ATV(s), golf cart(s), and other recreational vehicles on your personal auto policy. This would allow for the insurance coverage to follow the vehicle itself. Depending on your carrier and current auto policy, recreational vehicles may be listed on an existing auto policy or written as a separate auto policy. We also recommend adding all ATVs and other recreational vehicles to your umbrella policy.
Potential Claim Scenario:
You take your ATV to a friend’s property and they get into a wreck, damaging the vehicle and breaking their arm. Coverage may not be available for the physical damage and bodily injury if it is not listed on your auto policy or on its own separate policy.
In conjunction with your insurance coverage, we recommend taking proactive risk management steps to protect your family, guests, and personal liability. Always monitor the usage of these vehicles and make certain all individuals with access have sufficient knowledge in operating. We strongly recommend persons operating your ATV, golf cart, or a similar vehicle have a driver’s license and experience.
As you prepare for this year’s hunting season and escape from the city life, it is important that you review your insurance coverages with an experienced risk advisor. Most of these risks can be addressed by simple additions to your current policies. Let us help you enjoy the escape of the outdoors with peace of mind knowing that you, your family, and guests are properly protected.