Finding the right insurance for your golf course is an important step in protecting your business and achieving long-term success.
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From practice facilities to clubhouses, a golf course can provide a number of amenities for its members. However, this can also present a unique combination of exposures for golf course owners. It is of utmost importance to maintain an extensive range of business insurance to financially protect your golf course in the event of a disaster or accident.
What insurance coverage do I need for my golf course?
Although there are several types of insurance coverages to consider, the following policies are particularly relevant for golf courses:
General liability insurance can protect your business against third-party incidents that you may be held liable for. This includes unintentional bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury to a third party.
General liability coverage is essential for golf courses due to the number of visitors on the premises. Customers, vendors, and other third parties are all at risk for slip-and-fall incidents, injury from errant golf shots, and even golf cart collisions. It is important to note that players assume a certain level of risk as part of their participation in the golf game, but you still need to defend yourself legally if you are sued. Your policy covers legal fees, including the cost of a settlement.
Third-party bodily injury or property damage resulting from product liability is also covered under general liability insurance. For instance, if your golf course sells equipment or offers food services, you may be held liable for any resulting customer injuries or illnesses.
General liability insurance can also protect your business from lawsuits based on non-physical injuries, including claims of copyright infringement in advertising, slander, or libel. Additionally, your policy offers financial protection when your business or one of your employees causes damage to the property of another person or another company.
- Bodily injury: A patron of your golf course is hit in the eye by an errant golf ball and sustains severe injuries. General liability insurance would cover the medical expenses related to this bodily injury and any legal fees if the customer decides to take legal action against your business.
- Property damage: A portion of your golf course extends close to your parking lot. An errant golf ball makes its way to the parking lot and slams through a client’s car window. Your insurance would cover the damages and any legal fees related to this incident.
- Personal and advertising injury: A celebrity visits your golf course, and you post a photo of this visit on your company’s social media sites. If the celebrity sues your golf course for using his image without permission, your insurer would assist with legal fees.
Commercial property insurance protects the value of your business’s property by providing funds for repairs and/or replacements if your property is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril. Common perils covered by commercial property insurance include fire, theft, vandalism, windstorm, and water damage.
Your golf course relies heavily on your business premises as well as your equipment, so any damage to your property can have direct impacts on your ability to operate. Furthermore, the financial impacts of costly repairs and replacements can be staggering.
- Lightning strikes a tree on your golf course, starting a fire that spreads to your clubhouse. The building is severely damaged and much of your furniture and equipment are destroyed. Commercial property insurance would cover the costs of repairing and replacing damaged business property.
Business income insurance (also known as business interruption insurance) provides funds for loss of income and operating expenses if your business must temporarily close to recover from physical loss, damage, or destruction. This coverage includes the business’s net profits and normal operating expenses such as rent, employee salaries, and taxes. In order to qualify, the physical loss, damage, or destruction to property must be the direct result of a covered peril, which typically includes fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, windstorm, and more.
This coverage is especially important for golf courses because they rely on functioning equipment and an open business location. Damage to your equipment, landscape, or other business property will have a direct impact on your ability to operate and collect revenue.
- An intense hailstorm leaves your golf course landscape covered with pockmarks. Several days of labor are required to repair the damage. Your insurer would reimburse you for lost income and other operating expenses until the damaged property has been repaired.
If you employ instructors for golf lessons, it is vital to consider professional liability insurance. Professional liability insurance protects your business against lawsuits for any damages your client experiences due to mistakes, negligence, or perceived failures in your work. Although golf is a low-impact sport, it’s associated with several injuries that are often a result of poor mechanics or overuse. If your instructors are not mindful of these risks and instruct a client to overexert themselves, you could face liability claims.
- One of your golf instructors fails to correct a client on his swing posture. As a result, the client strains his previously injured shoulder and requires medical attention. He ends up filing a lawsuit against your business for negligence. Your professional liability insurance would cover the legal expenses associated with this incident.
Pollution liability insurance, also known as environmental impairment liability insurance, provides coverage for environmental liabilities and financial protection for claims of bodily injury, property damage, and cleanup costs as a result of a pollution event.
This coverage is essential to golf courses because of the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides used to maintain the grounds. These chemicals may leach into surrounding areas and affect the air, land, or groundwater.
- Neighboring residents that own homes bordering your golf course have complained of itchy eyes, respiratory discomfort, and rashes. They claim that their maladies are a result of the pesticides you’ve used on your golf course, and they sue your business. Pollution liability insurance would cover the lawsuit and damages.
Inland marine insurance covers products, equipment, and other forms of business property that are not tied to a fixed location and are not covered by commercial property insurance. This insurance is particularly important for golf carts. A golf cart is a mobile equipment that is not subject to compulsory insurance laws and used off public roads, so it is not considered an auto and it is not covered by auto insurance. In addition to including your golf carts under your general liability policy, consider also insuring them on an inland marine policy to cover any physical damage.
Additionally, your business may have valet services or locker rooms for customers’ personal items. In this case, bailee’s customer coverage, a type of inland marine insurance, is essential when your customers’ property is under your care, custody, or control. You may be held liable if that property is damaged or lost.
- The valet attendant of your golf course accidentally backs into a sign while parking a customer’s vehicle and scratches the vehicle’s bumper. The customer sues you for damages. Your bailee’s customer coverage would provide the funds for the damages and the lawsuit.
Workers’ compensation insurance covers lost wages, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs if an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness. In the event of a work-related death, workers’ comp can pay for funeral costs and death benefits for surviving family members.
In addition to physical hazards such as slip-and-fall incidents, sprains, and injuries from errant golf balls, your employees are also susceptible to lung, eye, and skin irritations due to the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides used to maintain the grounds. This is especially the case for your cleaning and maintenance employees who handle the chemicals firsthand.
Depending on your state, you may find differences in the types of illnesses and injuries that are covered, specific benefits available for employees, the types of medical examinations required to verify claims, and protocols for delivery of medical care.
- One of your golf instructors develops a shoulder injury due to overuse, which requires surgery and physical therapy. Your workers’ compensation insurance would cover these medical costs as well as a portion of her lost income if she is unable to work during her physical therapy.
- Liquor liability insurance is important if your golf course serves any alcohol on the premises. If a customer drinks too much and causes bodily injury or property damage to another third party, you could be held liable. Liquor liability insurance covers incidents of third-party bodily injury and property damage caused by individuals who consumed alcohol sold or served by your golf course.
- Commercial auto insurance protects the vehicles your company owns or leases. For instance, if you or one of your employees are involved in a car collision, your policy can provide coverage for damage to vehicles, third-party bodily injury, and property damage. This insurance also covers your company vehicles for damages as a result of covered hazards such as theft, vandalism, or collisions. Commercial auto insurance also provides protection for vehicles owned personally but used for certain business purposes.
- Commercial crime insurance protects your business from losses resulting from criminal acts, including forgery, robbery, burglary, theft, and employee dishonesty. Your employees interact with customers on a daily basis and have access to valuable equipment, goods, and cash. As a result, your golf course is particularly susceptible to theft.
Pricing and Quotes
Pricing for business insurance will vary based on the type of insurance coverage and the risk profile of your business. Insurers consider factors such as:
- Business size
- Number of employees
- Claims history
Businesses with higher risks will have higher premiums than those deemed lower risk. For example, a golf course with a history of frequent claims will face higher premiums. Premiums also rise as you increase the limits of insurance. Different insurance companies have different models for rating risks, so it is worth comparing pricing across different insurers.
In order to get an accurate estimate on pricing, it’s best to get a quote from a reputable insurance company. Below we’ve highlighted a few of our trusted partners who offer coverage for golf courses and country clubs:
|Provider||Business Interruption||Business Owner's Policy||Commercial Auto||Commercial Crime||Commercial Property||Cyber Liability||Employment Practices Liability||General Liability||Product Liability||Professional Liability||Workers' Compensation|
Business Insurance and Coronavirus
COVID-19 has had a major impact on businesses, including golf courses, and you may be wondering how business insurance can provide any financial relief. While there is some protection that can be provided, in most cases, insurance will not cover coronavirus-related losses.
You cannot purchase a new policy to cover coronavirus-related losses that have already occurred and insurance policies will not cover losses that have already been discovered.
If you have business interruption insurance, the losses you’ve suffered from temporary closures due to COVID-19 are not typically covered. Unless your policy specifically includes coverage for losses caused by communicable or infectious diseases (which is rare), your business interruption policy will likely only cover losses caused by a direct physical loss or damage.
Workers’ compensation for COVID-19 greatly varies depending on the state. If your employees contract COVID-19 while working, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation payments in some states.
If a client or other third party sues you claiming that they contracted COVID-19 after visiting your business, some commercial general liability policies will provide coverage. Once again, this depends on your individual policy and the laws of your state.
Consult our FAQ on coronavirus and business insurance for more information.
For years, golf courses have provided its members with a space to forget their worries and enjoy a relaxing game. However, the various risks associated with this business are anything but relaxing if golf course owners do not have a sufficient amount of insurance coverage. Accidents, disasters, and injuries are all impossible to control, but by adequately insuring your golf course, you become as prepared as possible to face these challenges.