What event insurance does your regional disc golf org offer?

FluentDisc

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Hi everyone, too often I see questions regarding insurance needs for different aspects of Disc Golf, and then a flood of answers that are often misleading or downright incorrect. It's not malicious, it's just a lack of understanding in most cases.

There is no consolidated resource for people that have these questions, so to tackle this I wrote an article that covers insurance needs in three different scenarios, Course Designers, Disc Golf Events, and Disc Golf Casual Play. It goes over what insurance policies are available in each scenario, how they work, who offers them, and how you might already be covered in some cases.

Here's the article, it's called "Disc Golf and Insurance Explained", check it out.

That said, I want to expand the Disc Golf Events section. At the moment, it outlines the PDGA's offering, and as an example of what a regional disc golf org offers, it explains what the ODSA (Ontario Disc Sport Association) offers to Clubs. I'd like to expand my coverage of the latter to include more regional organizations (i.e. State/Provincial bodies).

Do you have information, or better yet, a link to information on what your regional body offers to it's players and/or member clubs, or even to private land owners with regard to insurance coverage? I'd really appreciate the help and I'll continually update the article with links to these organizations to help those with these questions!

Cheers,
Kevin Farley
Fluent Disc Sport
 
What are your thoughts on carrying insurance as a player?

There are two ways to look at it, first is as a player in an event, and second is as a casual player. In the first case, the event organizer should really have insurance that would cover you for things like injury, damage to property, etc. That's typically covered by one of the two forms I describe in the article, the PDGA coverage for sanctioned events, or a private policy, or blanket policy provided by the regional org to a club for unsanctioned stuff for instance. If the event isn't insured, everyone is at risk, you, the TD/LD, and the land owner.

In the second case, it's harder to say, there are lots of variables like... did you agree to a waiver one way or the other; is it a public or private course and does the landowner carry a policy that would cover you; are you talking injury or damage to property, etc.

If you're going to a course that is advertising itself for the public to come play whether pay or not, they're the ones taking on the risk and liability, so they're the ones that require the coverage. You could always still have extended health coverage if you feel the need though, their policy may only cover basic needs, where as you may want better coverage.

Best to speak to an insurance broker at the end of the day. They're the pro's, I'm just trying to help with awareness of options.
 
There are two ways to look at it, first is as a player in an event, and second is as a casual player. In the first case, the event organizer should really have insurance that would cover you for things like injury, damage to property, etc. That's typically covered by one of the two forms I describe in the article, the PDGA coverage for sanctioned events, or a private policy, or blanket policy provided by the regional org to a club for unsanctioned stuff for instance. If the event isn't insured, everyone is at risk, you, the TD/LD, and the land owner.

In the second case, it's harder to say, there are lots of variables like... did you agree to a waiver one way or the other; is it a public or private course and does the landowner carry a policy that would cover you; are you talking injury or damage to property, etc.

If you're going to a course that is advertising itself for the public to come play whether pay or not, they're the ones taking on the risk and liability, so they're the ones that require the coverage. You could always still have extended health coverage if you feel the need though, their policy may only cover basic needs, where as you may want better coverage.

Best to speak to an insurance broker at the end of the day. They're the pro's, I'm just trying to help with awareness of options.


Reason I asked is a friend of mine was playing at a heavily wooded public course that also featured running trails that overlapped fairways and he knocked an eyeball out of a jogger who ran onto the fairway blindly behind a row of trees right after he drove off the tee. He ended up in a big messy court battle and I'm curious if there even is any type of insurance policy that could cover such a predictable yet unfortunate situation. I can think of a bunch of public courses that feature running or mountain bike trails that either cross fairways or have blind corners for pedestrian traffic.
 
Disc golf strikes me as one of those areas that will require litigation to shake out the issues of liability and coverage before anyone can give anyone else a good indication of whether and under what circumstances you might need coverage and also how much and what kind of coverage you need.

Reported cases involving golf might provide decent analogs for disc golf in researching liability, but they won't be perfect. For example, homeowners who build next to a golf course can probably expect a few broken things whereas most people are oblivious to disc golf even if they are walking directly in the line of fire. And I've never seen a golf course set up in a shared use park in the same way that some disc golf courses are designed and/or constructed.

My experience with insurance agents is that if you ask them if you need insurance, they are going to tell you that you need insurance. It may be the insurance that you already have, such as homeowners, but they are very unlikely to tell you that you don't need any at all. And they will be ready to sell you just the policy that you need.
 
I can think of a bunch of public courses that feature running or mountain bike trails that either cross fairways or have blind corners for pedestrian traffic.

And that is exactly why course design should be left to insured professionals. Designing sounds great until you realize you're putting your house on the line.

@Doofenshmirtz isn't wrong that it'll take litigation to get to the point where there's a "definitive" answer to certain things. In the scenario you describe, the player *should* be defended by a couple layers of insurance... the land owner should have a policy that covers casual play like a general sports liability policy. Second, the designer should have an E&O policy that would cover them and by some extension the land owner for making the responsible choice of working with an insured professional, despite the fact the course has obvious flaws. That's what E&O is for... errors and omissions.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a personal liability policy, but it'd be interesting to know, though I'd hate to live in a world where anyone playing a sport would need their own liability policy.

In any case, whether a player would be found liable in a situation like this is doubtful, unless someone could definitively prove they were grossly negligent and purposefully threw after the jogger appeared. That said, that won't stop a litigant from throwing lines in every pond they can to see where they get a bite.
 
My experience with insurance agents is that if you ask them if you need insurance, they are going to tell you that you need insurance.

I don't disagree with you, but until the day you need coverage, you'll never think you do.

Disc Golf can be a dangerous sport, especially on older courses or shared use spaces. With more people playing, discs flying twice as far, and greater crowds in parks overall, it can get pretty dicey.

At the very least, those that are designing, operating, or organizing need to think about this stuff these days, and there just aren't resources out there with answers. Thus the article. Does your state governing body offer a blanket policy to clubs or courses where you are?
 
I don't disagree with you, but until the day you need coverage, you'll never think you do.

Disc Golf can be a dangerous sport, especially on older courses or shared use spaces. With more people playing, discs flying twice as far, and greater crowds in parks overall, it can get pretty dicey.

At the very least, those that are designing, operating, or organizing need to think about this stuff these days, and there just aren't resources out there with answers. Thus the article. Does your state governing body offer a blanket policy to clubs or courses where you are?

I'm in Louisiana and we don't have a state governing body. SNDG is sort of headquartered here because the chief idiot lives here. It offered a liability policy for several years but the CI got rid of it, well, because that's who he is.

Most clubs here are unincorporated associationsa and most tournaments are run by individual TDs although some are certainly run by clubs. Only one or two clubs are both organized as a Non-Profit Corporation (or any kind of corporation) and only one of those is in good standing with the state.

Clubs are unlikely to have liability resulting from a tournament and course designers' liability is going to be limited by statute-of-limitation type laws here. The liability, if any, is likely to come from course owners for dangerous conditions and individual disc golfers doing dumb things.
 
We don't have state governing bodies in the United States.

We have state coordinators, as part of the PDGA.

There may be some state organizations, for certain things like a state points series, but I haven't encountered them. But they don't govern anything.

A bit of this discussion is conflating liability and insurance. It's uninsured liability that's the issue. Many of the liability questions may already be insured, by individual policies (homeowners insurance, etc.), tournament policies (through the PDGA, or separate event policies), landowner policies, and business properties (particularly for commercial ventures). Liability may also be mitigated by assumed risk or waivers, though you don't want to rely on this entirely.

Another question is, how great is the risk? You can imagine a scenario where you worry about liability for everything in life, and for which you can never buy enough insurance, until we never venture outside of our houses and never admit anyone into them. As a practical matter, we make judgments over which risks we pay to insure, and which activities we avoid (or don't).
 
I'm not sure there is such a thing as a personal liability policy, but it'd be interesting to know, though I'd hate to live in a world where anyone playing a sport would need their own liability policy.

That's what a homeowner's liability policy is, at least in part. Of course, you'd have to read the policy for specific coverage questions. They have lots of exclusions and limitations. And there is also a "general liability policy" even if you don't own a home.

In any case, whether a player would be found liable in a situation like this is doubtful, unless someone could definitively prove they were grossly negligent and purposefully threw after the jogger appeared. That said, that won't stop a litigant from throwing lines in every pond they can to see where they get a bite.

I don't know what jurisdictions protect those engaging in a sporting activity with a gross negligence standard. I think, for most, it is simply a negligence standard based on reasonableness. Would a reasonable disc golfer have thrown the disc under those circumstances? Baseball and golf provide analogous examples. E.g., is it unreasonable for a baseball player to hit a baseball over the fence? Is it unreasonable for a ball park owner to put a parking lot right behind the left-field fence or home plate? Doesn't someone who parks there to attend the baseball game know what kind of risk they are taking?

In golf, doesn't a person who buys a house just off the course, 250 yards past the tee box and 50' off the right side of the fairway probably understands that they will have have a broken window every once in a while? Is it unreasonable for a golfer to hit a slice on a golf course that is surrounded by homes as many courses are?

I think that these are the sorts of questions for which there isn't a large enough body of court decisions to provide definite answers in many places. But I also don't think that it would be very difficult to find an experienced disc golf course designer to provide opinions about whether a design is negligent in its failure to protect non-players from flying discs. So the potential liability is definitely there for designers, course owners and players in some circumstances. And even if you are never held to be liable, protection from having to pay and attorney to defend you is the main reason to have a homeowner's liability policy.

On the other hand, if you don't own a home or have significant assets, then a liability policy is probably not worth having just because you play disc golf.
 
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