Major weather events can take a toll on golf courses, and clubs have started generating revenue from other sources that carry added liability risk. With the price of everything increasing and the potential for physical losses and injury lawsuits expanding, it’s time for a good look at your golf course insurance protection.

Because courses have many different types of risk – land, equipment, pro shop, restaurant, injuries – your best bet is to work with a JAISIN insurance professional who specializes in the sports and recreation market. An advisor in this market can design a plan that best suits your needs.

Commercial property insurance is a first step

Commercial property insurance protects against hefty financial losses from fire, lightning, vandalism, theft, hail, windstorms, burst pipes and other perils, but you’ll need a policy that’s designed for golf courses. Specifically, make sure your policy includes:

  • Tees, fairways, greens and sand bunkers
  • Irrigation systems, ball washers and any underground wiring
  • Landscaping, including trees, shrubs, bridges, walkways, benches and paths
  • Golf carts, vehicles and maintenance equipment
  • Clubhouses and their furnishings, including any foodservice facilities
  • Swimming pools, tennis courts and recreational equipment
  • Driving ranges and putting greens
  • Pro shops and their contents
  • Signs, fences and outdoor lights

Work with your advisor to ensure your course is properly valued and your policy’s maximum payouts, called “limits,” are high enough to cover a loss. Ask about replacement-cost versus actual cash value and determine which is best for insuring your property.

If your golf course owns any vehicles that are driven on public roads, they’ll need to have commercial auto insurance. Be sure all of the drivers who use these vehicles are named in the policy.

You’ll need liability coverage, too

Your golf course could be sued if someone is hurt or their property is damaged while they’re in the clubhouse or playing the course. A player could be hit by an errant golf ball or fall into a water hazard. A guest could get food poisoning from your restaurant. A member’s property might be stolen from a locker. Or a customer might get into a fight after drinking too much alcohol served in your club.

Unfortunately, the potential for liability is great when you manage a golf course. That’s why it’s important to have good liability coverage. Golf courses have many types of exposure, so you’ll probably need several types of liability insurance. Let’s look at a few that most golf courses should have.

General commercial liability (CGL) insurance

This is the standard type of liability coverage that most businesses carry. It protects you against claims that your business caused bodily injury, property damage or personal injury. Personal injury would include claims against you for libel or slander, false advertising or copyright infringement. CGL policies help pay for your legal defense, settlement costs and any judgments you must pay.

Professional liability insurance (or errors and omissions, E&O)

E&O covers you when you make mistakes or are negligent, causing harm to a member or guest. For example, if you agree to handle all of the details for an event at your clubhouse and then don’t follow through, you could be sued for negligence. E&O covers you against liability claims and helps pay for your legal defense and settlement costs. Your golf pro could be sued as well, so they should be named as an insured.

Some policies pay from the first dollar forward or outside of limits, which leaves the rest of your coverage intact to pay damages or settlements. These policies are more expensive, but ask for details so you can determine which arrangement is best for your organization.

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)

EPLI covers you against employment-related claims such discrimination, sexual harassment or wrongful termination. EPLI helps pay for your legal expenses and settlement costs.

Cyber liability insurance

Cyber liability insurance protect your business from financial disaster when there is a data breach. They pay for customer notification and anti-fraud protection, recovery of compromised data, and repair of your systems. If you have computerized systems that are essential to your business, such as irrigation, you may also need a cyber risk policy that responds to network invasion and shutdowns that hurt your income or property.

Liquor liability insurance

If you sell alcohol on your premises, you should have liquor liability insurance, which responds if you are accused of responsibility for drunk driving or alcohol-related assault and battery or damage to the property of others.

Umbrella insurance

Umbrella coverage provides excess coverage above your other liability policies and can be a cost-effective way of increasing your policies’ limits.

Talk to your JAISIN advisor about any exclusions or changes you may need to make in your operations for your course to be covered. In particular, ask about:

  • Swimming pools and tennis courts
  • Errant golf balls and golf cart accidents
  • Water hazards and ponds
  • Food contamination
  • Chemical applications such as insecticides and pesticides
  • Special events you hold on your premises
  • Directors and officers (D&O) liability

Workers’ compensation insurance

Golf courses can pose a health and safety risk for employees, especially grounds maintenance workers who use equipment such as lawnmowers and chainsaws and apply pesticides and fertilizers. You’ll need to have workers’ compensation insurance, which pays for lost wages, medical expenses and rehabilitation costs if one of your employees is hurt or becomes sick on the job.

Remember that some of your pros may be independent contractors, so check with your JAISIN insurance professional about how they should be insured in case of injury. If you have temporary workers who staff events but aren’t in your regular employ, you need to see how their exposure to injury or illness should be insured.

Work with a JAISIN insurance pro

Like the golf pro who helps your customers choose the right clubs, you need an insurance pro to help you design the right plan for your golf course. Given the many property and liability risks golf courses face, you can’t afford to come up short on your insurance coverage. Call or email your JAISIN advisor today to be sure your golf course or club has all the coverage it needs.

Copyright © 2022 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Skip to content