Public Liability Insurance for Woodland: How to Find the Best Policy

You might be thinking – Do I REALLY need public liability insurance for woodland? 

It’s nature after all.

Living in the countryside and owning your own piece woodland paints an idyllic picture.

Being able to skip out of your backdoor into a private forest to be at one with nature. 

What could be better?

Unfortunately, where there are trees there is danger. Even if you don’t plan on having guests it is wise to think about public liability insurance to for woodland.

If you own even a small forest, you have a duty-of-care to others on your land and protecting yourself against claims (even by uninvited guests) stops a large financial claim landing on your doorstep.

Keep reading if you want to find out more about woodland liability insurance, how to find the best policy and what you’ll be covered for.

What is Public Liability Insurance for Woodland?

Woodland insurance is a policy protecting you against 3rd party claims for injury or damages occurring due to woodlands you own.

A public liability insurance policy for woodland is aimed at landowners with a plot of land mainly consisting of trees, shrubs and bushes.

Woods and forests are beautiful places to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and wildlife but it is important to have insurance cover to reduce any risks of financial losses after an incident causing injury or damage to a member of the public or their possessions.

Insurers generally view woodland as low risk making premiums low cost with generic policies to fit most landowners needs.

Why Do You Need Woodland Insurance?

Unsurprisingly, the most common claims on policies come from incidents involving trees. It could be a falling branch causing injuries to a nearby member of the public or whole trees falling down onto cars and buildings. 

In the worst-case scenario, death can even occur from falling trees and debris, although unlikely it does happen on average 4 times a year in the UK.

Adding to this, risk of injury comes from other aspects of owning woodlands like fencing and other hazards causing slips and trips.

Property damage is also a very real problem from woodland bordering busy roads and footpaths. Phone and electricity cables are regularly damaged by trees along with cars and neighbouring buildings.

You may be thinking ‘how can I be to blame, surely it’s just nature’ – while that may be true, legal fees, financial damages, and even criminal charges can be brought against you for cases of negligence. 

Even if you consider your land private property, trespassers and passers-by can still make claims against you for negligence. And even if the claim is not valid, you’ll still want to be covered for potentially expensive legal fees. 

In fact, the right to roam brought into the Countryside Right of Way Act 20000 gives people the right to walk over large areas of countryside making the owner even more responsible to keep it safe.

It is highly recommended you consider taking out public liability insurance for woodland if your land:

  • Adjoins public roads or right of way
  • Has nearby power lines, phone lines, fencing, or other property
  • You have guests to enjoy the woodland including friends and children

It is worth noting that claims have been on the rise over recent years due to accident solicitors touting for business on a no-win-no-fee basis.

Best Woodland Public Liability Insurance Companies

Rural Arbor Products

Rural Arbor offers an insurance scheme enabling landowners to get third party public liability insurance for woodland through its business partnerships.

Essentially it allows you to join a larger group of woodland owners insured in the scheme rather than buying your own individual policy. 

The idea is to allow you to get the same insurance cover as an individual policy but at a lower price.

The scheme is open to amenity/conservation woodland owners, collectives, community groups, residents associations, parish councils, tenants with woodland up to 185 acres.

Just like a normal woodland insurance policy, it covers you against accidental bodily injury to a trespasser or visitor plus damage to someone’s property like neighbouring fences and buildings up to a limit of £5 million.

A real bonus of the cover is there is no excess for claims. The price for joining is  £164.00 per wood which is a fair price although there are cheaper policies to be found elsewhere if you do a little extra legwork.

On close inspection of the scheme, there are a few grumbles to be had from members over the years. Some are confused about what’s actually covered and reports of increasing prices seem to frustrate many woodland owners. Generally speaking though, many recommend it!

Beech Tree Insurance

The company is actually called Beech Tree Entertainment but don’t let that put you off, it comes highly recommended in the world of woodland insurance.

Started in 2004  by Gary Alexander, an entertainment insurance underwriter, the business has gone on to be experts in providing insurance in a number of unique niches including rural areas.

With a flexible approach to providing insurance, Beech Tree Entertainment continues to expand its entertainment and events insurance to offer insurance for woodland owners and woodland workers.

Even if you have a bespoke or slightly different request they’ll be pleased to help you.

When looking for insurance cover the most important thing is using a company you can trust. With Beech Tree, there is a whole host of great online reviews from real customers as the best place to buy woodland insurance. Plus the company even takes time to talk, engage and answer questions on the subject.

Ashburnham Insurance

Ashburnham Insurance has expertise in both public liability and land insurance making it well placed to provide the high-quality cover you are looking for.

Based in Southend on Sea, Essex, the friendly customer service team are always on hand to answer your queries. Make a phone call and you’ll get through to a real-life human being, not a robot.

If you’re looking for quick cover to suit your needs from a selection of trusted underwriters in the UK, then try Ashburnham.

Woodland insurance annual cover starts at £145.00 for up to 50 acres of woodland with a  Minimum of £1 million indemnity cover. So cheaper than the Rural Arbor Products scheme if you have a small woodland.

So what about customer reviews and customer service? Well, things look great.

With a 4.3 rating on TrustPilot and 4.7 on Google, it’s clear that customers are delighted with the service they receive. Many comment on reviews and forums about happy experiences and competitive pricing. The customer service team is active online too, responding to customers and always looking to keep customers satisfied. Top marks.

Lycetts Insurance

The Lycetts Group is a long-standing group of companies offering a wide range of insurance and financial services across the UK. It holds a reputation as a market leader in farm and estate cover making it experts in rural insurance.

With offices across the UK in rural or market town locations, it’s likely you’ll be able to pop in and speak with your local broker in person. You can find a Lycetts office in:

Newcastle, Berwick St.Leonard, Catterick, Edinburgh, Exeter, London, Marlborough, Newcastle, Newmarket, Norfolk, Oxford, Shropshire, Surrey and Sussex.

As such a large organisation you get access to exclusive forest and woodland insurance policies built by a major UK insurer. The result? Extremely competitive prices and a wide range of cover.

Interestingly, there appear to be strangely few reviews online, especially for such a large company. To me, this paints a positive picture as horror stories or bad customer service complaints generally spread like wildfire. There are positive experiences to be found in niche forums too.

What Does Woodland Public Liability Insurance Cover?

It protects you against claims made for reasons of negligence. This includes legal fees to fight the claim and damages you may be liable for should you lose the case.

Put simply, it covers you if someone hurts themself in your woodland and it’s your fault (you haven’t taken reasonable steps to remove danger) you may have to pay compensation. Plus you’ll be covered for legal fees whether a claim is valid or not.

When buying woodland insurance you should also ensure your policy includes public access, particularly if you openly allow walkers, horse riders and cyclists across your land.

It won’t cover you for workers on your land. Paid contractors should have their own public liability insurance. Friends and family helping you with tasks will also not be covered for injury as they will be classed as ‘workers’, even if they are unpaid.

Here’s an example of what you’re liable for and what you’re not:

If a tree you own falls on a road or building causing damage, cover would only apply if you are legally liable for the loss to the third party. 

In other words, if a tree was diseased and still standing it would be deemed to be your “fault” as it wasn’t felled. 

But if a healthy tree fell and caused damage, the cover would not attach as insurers would say you can’t be responsible for a healthy tree falling.

To clarify, the cover protects you if you are at fault/liable/responsible for someone suffering a loss due to an incident happening on your land. Adding to this, land must have growing trees on it.

Public liability for woodland does not always cover you for damage caused by wind or fire. You may want to discuss adding cover for wind in the UK but fire damage is very rare in this country.

What is Not Insured?  

As most insurance policies are a ‘one size fits all’ for woodland you can expect insurers will not to cover you for liability arising from:  

  • Terrorism  
  • Asbestos  
  • Any component building material that is a hazard to human health
  • Goods in the custody or control of the insured  
  • Pollution or contamination other than incidents which are sudden, unidentifiable, unintended and unexpected

What to Look for in a Policy Provider?

This is always one of the most important aspects of choosing an insurance policy. It will all be a waste of time, money, and stress if the insurance company you choose doesn’t help you when you need it the most. 

Pick a trustworthy insurer with a good track record. Going for the cheapest option is not always the best!! You need a company you can rely on. While we’ve recommended companies in this article you should also take the time to do your own research so you are comfortable with your choice. 

Use reviews such as Google or Trustpilot to see what other people have to say about a particular company. Plus give insurers a call to discuss your needs, it’s always good to know there is a human on the end of the phone providing good customer service before you hand over any money,

Check that an insurer is registered in England with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so they are held accountable for their actions.

When it comes to policy fine print always checks what is covered and what is not. You should have at least £2 million cover if not more to protect you against legal fees and damages.

Finally, double-check the size of your plot to the maximum plot size of the policy you are buying.

Your Responsibilities as a Woodland Owner

Whether or not you have public liability insurance for woodland you should still take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of people on your property.

Things you should do to reduce chances of negligence include:

  • Regular checks along roads and footpaths including death/diseased trees and week overhanging branches. This should be done on a regular basis including after strong winds and major storms. It is also prudent to have a professional complete a survey of risks every 2/3 years with records so if a tree falls unexpectedly you are less likely to be found negligent. After all, you are covered under insurance for damages but criminal charges are still a possibility.
  • Tree felling and branch removal should be done asap after a risk is spotted – ignoring a risk is negligence. Warning signs should be placed along paths where work is taking place.
  • You should inform visitors of risks that are known to you including fences, steep slopes, barbed wire.
  • Regular upkeep or manmade objects including fencing and pathways.

The golden rule to keep in mind is – Don’t be negligent!

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