Whether you are a course owner or manager, or live in a golf estate home, golf courses come with unique risks.
South Africa is host to many luxurious golf courses that not only provide a much-loved recreational reprieve for enthusiasts of the beautiful game but are popular with home owners looking to live in a safe, secure and aesthetically beautiful environment. With so many role players, the matters of risk, liability and insurance on the golf course becomes a complicated topic.
For Golf Clubs
• Liability insurance
“The discussion often centres around the damage that a 45.93g, 41.1mm golf ball moving at 200 km/h can cause, but the risks on a golf course are far wider than this,” says Michael McCool, from Aon South Africa’s Commercial Risk Solutions Division in East London. “Golf balls are a real threat to safety and cause of injury, but so is a golf cart driven or parked carelessly, a motorised lawnmower, a slip and fall incident on uneven ground and so on. Liability insurance is an essential protection against claims from third parties.”
The actual design and layout of the golf course or golf estate needs to be conceptualised and planned through the lens of health and safety. The inclusion of natural barriers, rough terrain, ponds, fences and pathways need to be strategic in nature to prevent golf balls from venturing into surrounding highways and byways as far as possible. Course designers also need to take the natural flow of players on the course into account, not to mention pedestrians, golf carts, wildlife and residents. Having a medical response strategy in place in the event of an accident is also vital to ensure that medical assistance is available as rapidly as possible.
“If due care and diligence are not taken during the design of the golf course, the golf club and any affiliated companies could be held liable or negligent in the event of an adverse incident. Even the restaurant owner on the 19th hole course should strongly consider liability insurance,” Michael explains.
• Property Damage and Loss
It’s vital to protect the course, greens, buildings and assets against damage and loss as a result of fire, flood, theft and vandalism. Given the role these assets play in the income generation of a golf club, business interruption insurance is also vital cover for golf clubs. Many businesses have the usual property and assets cover for their buildings, vehicles and other essential equipment, but what happens if your club is unable to trade for weeks, even months and revenue declines or even stops altogether as a result? Business interruption insurance is designed to compensate the business for the financial impact of the interruption/interference as a result of an insured peril, such as a fire or flood.
• Hole-in-one insurance
If you are planning on sponsoring a cash prize for a hole-in-one, make sure you take out hole-in-one insurance. Although a hole-in-one is rare, you can protect your budget and bottom line if someone does strike it lucky with a once in a lifetime drive.
“Discussing and planning your insurance cover and risk mitigation measures with a professional broker is essential in ensuring that you are able to protect people, property and assets on and around the course, and that you are not left with gaps in cover that could leave you financially and reputationally exposed to an adverse event,” concludes Michael.