Employment Practices Liability, General Liability, Workers Compensation

Key Coverages for Insuring Your Golf Course

7/24/2019 | Stephanie Marsh

It is a small world and the insurance industry is no exception to that.  Pam Hecklinski, the Vice-President of our Indianapolis, Carmel, Greenfield and Greenwood locations, and Rita Nale, have known each other for decades, and they now work together within the same organization.  Rita is a Commercial Lines Account Manager who began her insurance career in 1978 and joined WalkerHughes in 2016. 

Long before they worked for the same company, Pam and Rita stayed in touch playing in insurance company sponsored golf outings together.  They would both agree to play, with the understanding that they wanted to be on the same team.  Rita has worked closely with local golf courses throughout her career in insurance and brought that knowledge with her to WalkerHughes. 

Risk Factors vs. Exposure

Risk is the possibility that an action or activity can lead to an undesired outcome.  Exposure is the company’s exposure to damages and the magnitude of an impact that the risk can have on their operations.  To properly review the risk factors facing golf courses, it is important to begin with reviewing the unique exposures to the course itself. 

Golf courses have many varying factors, from the landscapes and the degree of difficulty, to ownership and number of holes, typically 18, but can be 9 or 27 in some cases.  The different combinations are what make each individual course unique!  Golf courses differ not only by par, but also by amenities such as driving ranges, putting greens, pro-shops, lessons offered, the availability of golf carts, and snack bars or full-service restaurants onsite.  Country Clubs can often feature additional amenities such as swimming pools and workout facilities.  Like any business, golf courses are unique as are their insurance needs, which is why it is important to partner with an insurance professional like Rita with the knowledge to complete a personalized needs assessment and provide comprehensive insurance solutions tailored to your course’s unique exposures.

Key Coverages to Consider for Your Course

In the Midwest, our golf courses have a seasonal period of operation as our Indiana winters are certainly not conducive for golfers.  One of the greatest exposures faced from a property standpoint is with regards to weather related losses.  The correlation of lightening and wind to tree damage is a huge factor for these outdoor courses.   Although the course is not operational in the winter months, winter weather losses can still occur.  It is important to review your coverages to make sure you are with an insurer who affords coverage for underground pipes as many golf courses feature a sprinkler system and fountains or other pumps in their bodies of water.  Yes, you heard correctly, business owners can lose more than just golf balls in holes with ponds and lakes!  It is important to make sure water mechanisms are properly winterized, so water does not freeze within the pipes and inner workings of those expensive systems. It is also important to review coverage regarding outdoor bridges, it is not uncommon for them to wash away and important to make sure coverage on those structures is specifically included and not excluded on the policy.

Golf courses employ individuals representing all demographics, they are very desirable places to work as they have many different employment opportunities ranging from full time to part time work.  Whether you are a Ranger patrolling the course or a student caddying for summer spending money, there truly can be opportunities available for everyone! With that being said, the range of their employment opportunities and number of people they employ opens golf courses up to Workers Compensation and Employment Practices Liability (EPL) claims.  With Workers Compensation, it is important to cultivate a work environment that emphasizes safety management as a top priority.  WalkerHughes' own, Ray Gage, has created a copyrighted 20 step process to help businesses take control of their Workers Compensation costs.  A topic that can be complicated and confusing, Ray is here to lead the way!  

An declaration used to warn those standing or walking in the flight of a golf ball, "Fore!" is a known warning to help keep those around you safe.  Golfers are active risk managers!  As important as that warning is, there are additional warnings golf course owners and managers should be sharing with their staff to keep guests safe.  Golf courses move a lot of golfers through daily, which puts them at risk for slip and fall claims.  It is important to maintain proper prevention techniques to avoid those types of exposures for your guests.  Things to consider here are the stability of outdoor stairs and structures, the security of the backing on clubhouse rugs, and utilizing anti-slip coatings on wet surfaces. It is very common for alcohol to be available for purchase at golf courses, which makes it important for staff be trained on safe serving techniques to protect the establishment as well as its patrons.  With a great deal of work taking place outdoors, remember to share tips with your staff to help them stay cool and hydrated during extreme summer heat!

We Are Here to Help

Whether you need help rounding out your foursome or creating a personalized insurance plan to fit your course’s needs, at WalkerHughes we are here to help.  Rita, Ray and our trusted guides are here to ‘Bridge the GAP’ for your business.