News “Insuring A Safe Hunt – Understanding Your Responsibilities As A Landowner”

“Insuring A Safe Hunt – Understanding Your Responsibilities As A Landowner”

“Insuring A Safe Hunt – Understanding Your Responsibilities As A Landowner”
August 28, 2001 |

When hunters arrive at Bent Creek Lodge located near Jachin in Choctaw County, they expect to bag a big buck or gobbler. Their chances for success are excellent on this well-managed hunting operation that has gained national acclaim. But before they take to the hardwood bottoms and luscious food plots, guests will receive a serious safety lecture from Leo Allen or Johnny Lanier, co-owners of Bent Creek Lodge.”Our primary objective is to provide our guests with a quality hunt and a safe hunt,” said Allen. “We hold a brief but serious safety class before we take our hunters to their stands. We inform our guests that the required 144 square inches of hunter orange will be worn when hunting. If they don’t have it, we give them a hunter orange hat to wear. We also advise our guests that, if they shoot a deer in the morning, they are not to leave their stand. Some of our people will be along shortly to help them. During the afternoon hunts, we allow guests to move up to 100 yards from their stand in search of a deer,” added Allen.According to Allen, Bent Creek Lodge guests hunt on 34,000 acres of land owned or leased by Allen and Lanier. With this much territory to cover, including more than 150 morning tree stands and more than 250 food plots for afternoon hunts, much emphasis is placed on getting hunters to and from the stand safely. “We provide all transportation for our guests when they are on our property. We do not allow all-terrain vehicles (ATV) or personal vehicles. When a guest harvests a deer, we do the field dressing and processing. Both of these services are to accommodate our guests and reduce the chance for accidents,” said Allen.When it comes to liability insurance, Allen says he can’t stress the need for it enough. “No matter what kind of business your are in, and especially if you are in the hunting business or just have friends hunting on your property, you need liability coverage. I would advise landowners to check with their agent and find out if a guest riding an ATV is covered. What if someone cuts themselves while dressing a deer, or gets sick from a food-borne illness? Circumstances like these should be discussed with your insurance agent,” said Allen.Will Gunter, deputy legal counselor with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, agreed with Allen that adequate liability coverage is a necessity. “With the cost of litigation and potential liabilities of land owners, they would be prudent to purchase adequate liability insurance,” said Gunter.Gunter points out that Alabama laws dealing with a landowner’s duties and responsibilities vary according to the relationship the landowner has with the person on the landowner’s property. “Basically, a person on the land of another will fall under one of four classifications–invitee, licensee, social guest or trespasser,” he said. Regardless of which classification a person falls into, however, Gunter said the landowner is responsible for warning visitors about possible dangers on the property.
“If you know you have a hazard that could pose a danger to a person on your land, tell them,” said Gunter. “If you know you have a 15-foot alligator swimming in your pond, or an aggressive bull that guests may come in contact with, you should tell all guests of it’s presence. Even if it’s a trespasser, tell them. You can still have them arrested if you want to. If you know you have a boat that is more susceptible to capsizing than the average boat, you should tell your guest. It’s better to err on the side of caution,” added Gunter.Rex Seabrook, Alfa’s farm owner underwriting manager, said Alfa has made some changes in its new Farm Owner Liability Policy that increases the hunting liability coverage for the insured and his family and friends, when no hunting fee is charged. “Under our old policy there was a $100,000 coverage limit for personal hunting liability. Under our new policy the $100,000 sub-limit has been deleted, and the limit for personal hunting is the same as the liability limit selected by the farmer and shown on the policy declaration,” Seabrook said. “For example, if an insured selects a policy liability limit of $500,000, the personal hunting liability will also equal $500,000 under our new policy.”According to Seabrook, landowners who lease their land to individuals or hunting clubs for a fee are not automatically covered. The lessee will need to maintain a separate liability policy naming the landowner as an additional insured. Once the lessee obtains separate coverage, then Alfa offers coverage to the landowner through an endorsement to their Farm Owner Policy.Landowners who offer day hunts, guided hunts or operate a hunting lodge for a fee are not covered under the Farm Owner Liability Policy, but may purchase a commercial liability policy through their Alfa agent.”Experience has shown us that if someone gets hurt hunting, before they can recover damages, the landowner has to be proven negligent. But even if you are not negligent, the legal fees can be astronomical. Your Alfa policy will pay your legal fees even if you are not negligent. If you own land and let people hunt, even if it’s just friends, you need adequate liability coverage,” said Seabrook.EDITOR’S NOTE:Hunts at Bent Creek Lodge ( can be booked by calling 205-398-3437 (day) or 205-398-2008 (evenings).For more information about your rights and responsibilities as a landowner, check out the Ag Law Book in the Alfa Shortcuts dropdown box at

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