Golfers’ insurance premiums ‘unlikely to fall’ despite ruling

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham October 20, 2014 10:10

Golfers’ insurance premiums ‘unlikely to fall’ despite ruling

Golfers are unlikely to see a reduction in their insurance premiums despite a landmark ruling in favour of a golfer who caused significant injury to a bystander.

That is the view of an insurance expert who has also said that golf clubs can breathe a ‘sigh of relief’ over the ruling, but in reality all it does is ‘settle some nerves’.

In April 2009, Gavin Dear, a top 40 world amateur golfer, hit a ball at Leven Links Golf Club in Fife, where David McMahon was a ball spotter.

When tracking his ball through the air and seeing it go offline, Dear became aware of movement near what he thought was an abandoned buggy, but did not react quickly enough to shout ‘fore’. The shot struck McMahon on the face, after he had emerged from the rear of the buggy and into the line of the ball, causing irreversible injuries to his vision.

McMahon took legal action against Dear for £50,000 for not shouting ‘fore’, but the Court of Session in Edinburgh recently ruled in Dear’s favour, concluding that his shot had not been ‘wayward’ and he had not been careless.

Commenting on the case, Catherine Devine, an assistant at CMS’ insurance team, which defended Dear, said: “You can be held liable if your golf shot injures someone, but only if ‘reasonable care’ has not been taken.

“The decision in Dear makes it clear that the law can be flexible. There is certainly a duty of care on a golfer not to injure others with his shots, but where he has taken reasonable steps to discharge that duty, he should not be found liable.”

Craig Watt, a senior associate at CMS, added: “Golfers, golf clubs and sports insurers alike may draw a great sigh of relief at Dear, but, in reality, the decision only goes some way to settling nerves. There is no doubt, when considering the negligence of golfers, that each case must turn on its own facts. Moving forwards, insurers are likely to continue to impose high level premiums, as they attempt to value the risk involved in insuring golfers.”

 

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham October 20, 2014 10:10
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