Golf is currently the only sport with its own specific insurance cover for golfers. Amateur golfers can easily injure themselves due to lack of practices or unfamiliarity with the golf course and they may even cause injuries to others that give rise to legal liability and compensation. In a survey on 12 golfer insurance plans, the Consumer Council found more than two-fold disparity in the premiums. There were also various restrictions, such as the insured age, excluded items, conditions for claims, etc; and some even required additional excess when making claims. Consumers choosing golfer insurance plans should check out the protection items and evaluate if the cover can really meet their personal needs.
The Council analyzed information collected from 9 insurers operating a total of 12 golfer insurance plans with annual premiums ranging from $300 to $980 of which 7 also provided family plans with annual premiums ranging from $510 to $1,680. Although the annual premiums were not deemed expensive, the variance could be more than two-fold.
The survey showed that all plans provided third party liability protection with the maximum indemnity from $3 million to $10 million, depending on the premiums charged. Amongst them, the third party liability protection in 5 insurance plans required an excess of $500 to $1,000 as the amount the insured had to bear for each claim while the insurance company would be responsible only for the amount after deduction of the excess.
The risk of golfing mainly involves bodily injury, particularly the hand, wrist, shoulder, waist and back and so insurance plans that provide medical expenses protection will offer the consumers more comprehensive coverage. All surveyed plans provided personal accident protection of different levels of indemnity amount in the event of accidental death or disablement while playing golf in the golf course. However, consumers who are more focused on medical care should be aware that only 7 of these plans offered protection on medical treatment for injuries sustained while playing golf in the golf course, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 annually in medical expenses, including in-patient care, out-patient service and hospital cash allowance.
The survey found that these 12 plans had different restrictions on the insured age. Except 2 plans which did not set any minimum age, 8 plans set the minimum age at 18 years old while the remaining 2 at 12 and 16 years old respectively. With regard to the upper age limit, 10 plans set variously at 65, 70 and 75 years old but 1 plan restricted the insured aged 66 years or above to receive only half of the indemnity amount.
In choosing for family plans, consumers should read the restrictions carefully. For instance, some plans required the insured family members must be between the age of 3 and 17 years old, unmarried and supported by their parents, and must live with the insured. In respect of personal accident compensation, all but 1 of the plans would provide family members only half or even 1/10 of the insured’s compensation, ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. Consumers should carefully evaluate if the insurance cover is adequate.
All plans covered the accidental damage of golfing equipment and personal effects in the golf course with maximum limit of indemnity for golfing equipment from $15,000 to $40,000 while each piece of golfing equipment from $1,500 to $5,000. Since golfing equipment is consumable, 1 plan excluded cover for basic golf clubs while 3 plans did not include golf balls. Furthermore, 3 plans specified the indemnity sum for different types of golf clubs, for instance, a driver would be compensated $2,000 to $5,000 while an iron would be compensated $1,000 to $2,500.
For indemnity of personal effects, the annual maximum indemnity ranged from $5,000 to $20,000 with the upper limit for each article from $1,000 to $3,000. However, cash, credit cards, mobile phones, or even watches, jewelry, computers and cameras were generally not covered in the protection.
According to a golf etiquette, whoever gets a ‘hole-in-one’ will buy drinks for everybody in the clubhouse and that gives rise to ‘hole-in-one’ protection to cover for the celebration expenses. In the survey, all plans provided ‘hole-in-one’ protection of which 4 plans offered direct cash award, 8 plans would reimburse such expenses, 3 plans set no annual maximum limit but each claim must not exceed $3,000 to $5,000 while the remaining 5 plans set the annual upper limit from $15,000 to $30,000 with each claim between $3,000 and $10,000. In 1 plan, the protection will be raised according to the number of ‘hole-in-one’ achieved, from $3,000 to $5,000 for the first ‘hole-in-one’ and rising to $7,000 to $8,000 for the third one.
Some plans, however, imposed golf course restrictions on the ‘hole-in-one’ claims. For instance, the golf course must have par values of 65 or above, or it must have 18 holes or par values of 68 or 72. Similarly, there were also restrictions on the venue and time on the ‘hole-in-one’ claims, such as the celebration expenses must be spent within 7 or 30 days in the clubhouse of the golf course.
Except for 2 plans which did not cover the golfing incidents in North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, all other plans offered global protection. The Council would like to point out that many travel insurance plans include accident or personal liability cover when playing golf abroad, consumers should therefore assess whether there is still a need to buy extra golfer insurance.
Consumers purchasing golfer insurance are advised to take heed of the following:
- Apart from comparing the protection, indemnity, premiums and excess of the insurance plans, consumers should also understand the terms and conditions in particular the exclusions and excluded items;
- For family golfer insurance plans, due consideration should be given to ensure that the protection items and indemnity for the children are adequate;
- It's advisable to carry the contact number of the insurance company on the golf course so that enquiry and appropriate preparation can be made forthwith in case a situation for claims arises.
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