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The awful accident at last month’s Ryder Cup, which saw a female fan blinded in one eye after an errant tee shot hit by Brooks Koepka on the opening morning, has brought the issue of insurance and liability on the golf course back into the spotlight.

It seems that many people are still confused as to exactly what cover they need for playing golf, as well as what types of things are/aren’t covered by specialist golf insurance.

To help de-mist some of the questions and confusion, we spoke to Nora Ferda-McKay, Development Executive at Carrick Neill-Gallagher

Have you had any enquiries from customers or potential customers following the Keopka incident?

Yes, we’ve had numerous enquiries since the incident from clients who are concerned about their liability should they inadvertently hit someone else on a course, causing injury. These high-profile cases bring golfers’ protection into sharp focus and many are understandably worried about what would happen if they were involved in such an incident.

Ryder Cup Injured Fan

What is the legal stance you take for one of your customers being hit by a ball at their local course?

As you would expect, each incident must be individually considered and assessed on its own merits. After establishing what type of cover the client has – an individual golfer policy or blanket cover via the golf course – several questions follow: Is personal accident cover included under the policy? Does the injury qualify under the personal accident section, and is the golfer claiming someone else is responsible for the injury?

For example, loss of sight is a qualifying injury under the Carrick Neill Golfers Policy as well as the Members and Visitors Policy. So, if a golfer loses their eyesight while participating in a golfing activity, a capital benefit is likely to be paid. Injuries of a less serious consequence would not qualify under this section. As with any other type of incident where an injury is suffered, golfers could choose to take action against other golfers or a golf course should they feel the other party acted negligently. This can be a lengthy and often unsettling process for both the injured party as well as the golfer who hit the ball. It is therefore highly advisable that golfers and golf clubs ensure protection is in place should such a scenario occur.     

Fan Injured

Looking at such incidents from the other perspective, if someone takes an errant shot and faces a lawsuit as a result, golf insurance could help them meet their legal costs. At Gallagher, Carrick Neill specialises in golf insurance and has been providing protection to golfers and clubs for over 20 years.

A golf liability policy would respond if legal action was brought against a policyholder; the insurer would then investigate the matter and assist the golfer with their defence. For example, the Carrick Neill Golfers Policy insurer would indemnify policyholders against the sums they are legally required to pay as compensation plus their defence costs.

So when it comes to their legal liability, there are different ways that golfers can protect themselves, such as arranging personal insurance through a specialist insurance broker. The Carrick Neill Golfers Policy provides up to £5 million in legal liability cover worldwide as standard , meaning protection is in place wherever an individual plays golf. Family cover can also be selected, giving golfing families peace of mind that they are all protected. Here, golfers can choose Personal Accident cover too, which would assist them should they be the one to suffer the injury in such incidents.

Golf courses and clubs can also decide to arrange playing-liability cover for their golfers. For example, the Carrick Neill Members and Visitors Policy provides a blanket solution which can be a cost-effective way to ensure that all of their golfers have adequate levels of liability cover should a golfer face a lawsuit following an injury. Under this policy, the insurer will indemnify the insured golfer against the sums they legally have to pay as compensation up to £5 million. They will also pay defence costs. For members, this cover is worldwide; for visitors, cover applies at the round they play at the insured golf course. Under this policy, personal accident cover is included for both members and visitors for serious injuries

Fan Struck By Ball

How does that differ from attending a tour event?

A golfer who attends an event only as a spectator is different. It is
unlikely the personal accident section within the golfer’s individual
policy would respond in this case, as they are not participating in a
golf activity.

That’s not to say attendees do not have any options at all. Following
an incident, if the injured party wishes to bring an action, there would be an investigation to determine if liability
could be proven against the club/event organiser or the golfer who hit
the shot. That party could then be responsible for covering
liability/legal costs. For example, if if was proven that, during the Ryder Cup, spectators
were deemed to be allowed too close to the fairways, the organiser’s
public liability policy may be triggered to meet the costs of the
Koepka incident.

Find out more

For more information on specialist golf insurance from Carrick Neill-Gallagher, log-on to or call 0131 225 7777 to discuss golf course options.

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