Peter Glenser, firearms barrister and BASC council member, answers your questions on shooting and the law.
Q: Do I need special insurance to go shooting? I’m a bit confused by all this liability stuff…
A: I have always thought it completely extraordinary that it is a legal requirement to be insured while driving a car but not while using a gun. But that is the case. That said, no responsible person would ever shoot without insurance and many estates require proof of insurance as a condition of taking any shooting.
Happily, as part of your membership of BASC or another countryside organisation, you are automatically covered. In fact you may be covered more than once – many of us are of the view that all of the organisations deserve support and are members of more than one. But let’s address the confusion about liability. Shooting is a remarkably safe sport. But like any activity, things can go wrong. Guns have been known to shoot cars, caravans and telephone lines. Birds fall and damage vehicles, roofs and even occasionally people. In the worst-case scenario, occasionally people get peppered by guns swinging through the line or shooting forwards after the first horn on a moor. And when things go wrong it can get expensive very quickly. It’s not just the damages but also the cost of lawyers, medical and other reports, etc.
Damage to your gun?
And it’s not only you who can get into trouble. Supposing your dog dashes into a road and causes an accident? Are you a member of a syndicate that rents shooting? A surprising number of claims against shoots involve damage to livestock caused by leaving wheat around in sacks or loose hoppers.
What about damage to your gun? Is that covered? Cancellation because of fog or other adverse weather? Illness?
Peter Blackmore of Blackmore Borley says: “When a Gun considers insurance, people usually think of the financial consequences of a shoot being cancelled, yet the real financial ‘elephant in the room’ is liability due to an unintentional mishap! The price of a cancellation to a Gun is insignificant compared to the cost – financial and emotional – when something goes wrong. Indeed it can be life changing for all concerned. Yet for the price of a bird, such liabilities can be managed and yet more than half of those who shoot do not purchase any form of insurance. Extraordinary!”
Peter’s advice here is intended as a guideline only and all readers are advised to seek further advice. If you have any legal questions for Peter Glenser, please email Shooting Gazette