Advice on buying shooting insurance

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Can you advise me on buying the best kind of shooting insurance? Lachlan Nisbet replies...

Q: I’m thinking about buying shooting insurance. Do I just need third party cover? What other aspects should I consider?

LACHLAN NISBET replies: Firstly, you should have insurance. It has always seemed to me to be absurd that insurance is compulsory for motorists but not for shooters – however skilled and careful you are, accidents can and will happen. Insurance is also readily and cheaply available.

There are a range of insurance products on the market from memberships through to stand-alone insurance policies. Some policies will provide public liability cover alone, others will provide legal expenses insurance in addition and add-on policies for personal accident, and cover for dogs and kit.

With insurance you should obviously buy what you need and remember that in life you get what you pay for. Look at the ‘key facts’ document and see what is covered and what is not. All of these documents are supposed to be written in clear English so that consumers can readily understand what they are purchasing.

Membership organisations such as BASC (other membership organisations are available!) provide more than adequate public liability and legal expenses cover as part of the overall cost of membership. Public liability and, in my view, legal expenses are the core products to look for.

Most public liability policies available easily cover damages and costs arising from even the most catastrophic accident. Legal expenses insurance is becoming increasingly important also. The cost of appealing a certificate revocation can be high. Commonly, appeals running to a full hearing will cost around £6,000-£7,000, plus VAT. Complicated cases and those involving psychiatry can cost much more. Remember also that if you fight your appeal and lose you will usually be ordered to pay the opposing chief constable’s costs. Conversely, the chief constable is almost never ordered to pay your costs if you succeed in your appeal. Some legal expenses policies cover any adverse costs orders that the court might make (i.e. the chief constable’s costs). Legal expenses policies can be an invaluable tool. Without them many people simply accept the revocation decision. You would also be surprised what the policies will cover – the BASC policy will cover, for example, criminal proceedings following airgun kinetic testing failure.

My advice is that, as a minimum, you should take up a policy with a good level of public liability cover together with at least £25,000 of legal expenses cover. Remember also that buying through a membership organisation often provides you with access to a first line of advice from the organisation itself. Membership organisations also tend to better understand the needs of shooters and so the resulting insurance policy is better from a coverage point of view. Insurance is also a numbers game and so the bigger the membership covered, generally speaking, the lower the cost of the insurance.

Lachlan is Head of Regulatory Health and Safety at Brabners LLP.