I Bought Woodland – Do I Need Insurance?

As idyllic as owning woodland or a meadow is, you do need to think about protection, even if you don’t plan to have any visitors! Let us explain a bit about woodland insurance, why you need it, what do you need, what’s legally required of you as a landowner and what isn’t. We also reveal where your responsibilities start and end.

So you’re fortunate enough to own a wood or meadow and are looking forward to enjoying it. Perhaps it’s purely for your own family use, with no other visitors; but maybe you plan to show off your wood to other interested people, whether for the bluebells, the views, use by a forest school or just for the sheer beauty of the landscape.

Whatever your intentions, the simple fact is that you owe a duty of care to others, regardless of their right to be in or near your land; yes, even to trespassers! So, what’s needed to protect you?

Public Liability Insurance for Woodland Owners

Firstly, and most obviously, you will need Public Liability insurance; that’s your liability to others for injury to them or damage to their property. If you receive an allegation against you that someone has been injured or suffered property damage due to your ownership and use of the land, it is an allegation that needs to be defended. Trying to defend a claim like that and prove that you have not been negligent can be a costly process, which is why Public Liability is really a must.

Employer’s Liability for Woodland Owners

Secondly, you have a responsibility to people helping you on the land; the extent of this responsibility is down to this: Do you control how they do the job? It doesn’t matter whether they are paid or volunteers; it’s whether you control them – that makes you their employer and Employer’s Liability becomes a legal requirement, as well as being sensible protection.

Sensible precautions for woodland owners to take

There are a number of things you can do to make sure your time as a woodland owner is pleasant:

  • Get insurance
  • Take care of your wood
  • Check for damage or disease in your trees
  • Watch out for hazards that you may know about, but which may not be obvious to a visitor, eg, a hidden sudden drop or steep slope to a seasonally-full water course

Our woodland insurance scheme: what do we offer? – The legal bit!

The standard Woodlands Scheme policy covers landowners and/or managers for £5m Public and Products Liability and £10m Employer’s Liability.

Public and Products Liability protects you against claims for injury, loss or damage by Third Parties arising out of the ownership and use of the land.

Employer’s Liability is to cover any workers, volunteers or friends who are working under your direction (rather than being professionals) and who might sue you should they be injured in the course of the work.

Please bear in mind though, that this is not a Personal Accident or Loss of Income insurance for these people, offering payment where nobody is to blame. As with Public Liability cover, it protects you against claims made against you alleging negligence and will cover awards made to them – if you are proved to have been negligent. Legal costs in defending you are covered regardless of the merits of the allegation.

What should you do next?

You should check your woodland or meadow for hazards, and then give us a call to chat about woodland insurance – advice on all aspects of risk and the safe enjoyment of your land by you and your visitors is always freely available, so please do ask.

Oh, yes, please don’t forget to enjoy your wood!