Bristol-based Golfplan Insurance has recently settled more than £80,000 in a ruling involving two Kent golfers. The company, which is believed to be Europe’s largest golf insurer, underwritten by UK Insurance (UKI), provides cover for more than £30 million worth of golf equipment.
After the first successful court case for damages resulting from a golfing injury (Lewis-v-Shipley 1992) other actions soon reached the courts. An important ruling made by the Court of Appeal in 1998 stated that golfers who mis-hit shots causing injury to other persons would be liable to pay damages even if they do shout ‘FORE!’
This ruling made an immediate and significant impact on an ongoing civil case involving two golfers from Kent: Miss Sheree Cox, a civil servant and Mr Peter Nash, a company director and a Golfplan client since 1995. The incident happened on the 12th tee at The London Golf Club, where both golfers are members, during a club 3-ball competition on Sunday 15th September 1996. After hitting his tee shot into the rough Mr Nash, 12 handicap, declared a provisional ball which he ‘duck hooked’, hitting Miss Cox, 10 handicap, on the right temple as she walked forwards to the ladies tee. She was rendered unconscious and taken by ambulance to Maidstone General Hospital and treated for consequential injuries.
Golfplan settled the claim for damages in excess of £80,000 (including legal costs) on behalf of Mr Nash.
Prior to this case Golfplan’s highest settlement payout was for compensation to a golfer badly injured as he stepped forward onto the tee. The Golfplan client, who had already tee’d off, took a second, unannounced practice swing. The club head struck his golfing partner in the mouth inflicting terrible facial and dental injuries. Damages in the region of £24,000 plus legal costs were settled on the client’s behalf.
Since Golfplan was founded in 1984 it has received hundreds of public liability and third party liability claims. Fortunately most claims vary from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds for repair of damaged cars or smaller golf injury claims.
Golfplan founder and managing director, Ron Channon points out “The majority of claims we deal with are for the loss, theft or damage of golf equipment, payment of membership fees or hole-in-one bar bills. Nevertheless, I believe the majority of the golfing public are unaware of the need for specialist golf insurance, especially as golf courses are becoming more and more crowded and our society more litigious. Unfortunately, too many golfers believe they are automatically protected by their household insurance for all their equipment and public liability needs. In fact I do not know of any household insurance policy that provides the same level of specialist golf insurance cover as that provided by Golfplan which is valid anywhere in the world.”
He added: “It is inevitable that Golfplan will be handling an ever increasing number of golfing injury claims in the future. Our research shows that in the last 11 years a staggering 101,734 golfers suffered injuries requiring hospitalisation and in 1998 alone, the year the Court of Appeal made its judgement, 7,500 of the 16,464 recorded accidents, involved injuries to the head! These are statistics of which all golfers should be aware.”
With an increasing number of UK golfers taking overseas golfing holidays during the winter months and with the start of the 2001 golfing season arriving soon, Mr Channon believes it is only a matter of time before this £80,000 settlement pales in significance.