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Outdoor Outfitter & Guide Liability Insurance

Engaging in outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking and horseback riding can be thrilling. But if basic safety precautions are not observed, a fun outdoors adventure can quickly turn into a dangerous affair.

The biggest danger while rafting is drowning, as well as injury from the impact on rocks when falling out of the raft. Dangers of hiking include heat exhaustion, falls, and getting lost. While horseback riding, it is important to remember that animals are unpredictable, and exceptional care is essential.
Injuries from falling off a horse may be fatal, as most riders do not wear a helmet.

It is the responsibility of the guide or outfitter, as the leader of outdoor adventure programs, to be mindful of the risks of each activity, and to teach their clients about necessary safety precautions. However, guides cannot always prevent accidents. Therefore, outfitter and guide liability insurance is an important necessity to their careers. Anything can happen, especially in the wilderness, and guides need to be protected, especially by covering liability insurance gaps left exposed by traditional plans.

Insurance for Outdoor Recreation

Avid Outdoorsman? Specialized Personal Liability Coverage Can Fill Insurance Gaps

You’ve been an active outdoors person for most of your life and love to backpack, kayak, and even rock climb. To you, all of these activities seem perfectly safe provided that one uses common sense. You may even make your weekend outdoor excursions a family adventure. However, there are many ways that such a lifestyle can expose you to a liability suit.

For example, if one of your children invites a friend on a trip who then suffers an injury, you could be vulnerable to a lawsuit. Minors are treated differently by the courts from adults. While backpacking may seem tame to you and your family, it’s a more hazardous activity to those who lack your family’s extensive experience. Your son’s friend could wander out of his tent overnight and get lost, or get violently sick from drinking contaminated water.

Rock climbing is an especially problematic area of liability exposure. If you decide to teach a friend how to rock climb and he suffers a serious injury, he may have no choice but to sue you because his health insurance policy excludes rock-climbing injuries. Being your friend, it didn’t occur to you to make him sign a release form that waives his right to sue.

If your equipment fails, you may get sued even if the person signed a liability release form, because it involves possible negligence on your part. You may also want to think twice about giving a rock climbing lesson to minors, regardless of their relationship with your children. Rock climbing is considered an extreme sport and is listed as such along with other sports you would never consider such as base jumping and skydiving.


Insurance for Outdoor Recreation

The great outdoors can be great fun, with adventures like boating, angling, hunting, backpacking, mountain climbing, camping, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, zip line, and horseback riding, to fill your days. You name it — there’s a myriad of opportunities just waiting for the adventurous.

Of course, it takes a guide and/or an outfitter to make the good times happen. A guide accompanies a participant during outdoor recreational activities. An outfitter, according to “Webster’s New World College Dictionary,” is “a business that provides equipment and supplies for fishing trips, hunting expeditions, etc.” Both are responsible for creating a safe and fun time for all. Unfortunately, it’s not always fun and games out there.

  • In 2016, recreational boating accidents numbered 4, 463, with 701 deaths, 2903 injuries and about $49 million dollars of damage to property.* The top contributing factors were operator inattention or inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure.
  • In 2014, there were several deadly commercial rafting trips along the Arkansas River, Clear Creek, the Cache la Poudre, the Roaring Fork and the Animas in Colorado.
  • Each year, there are over nearly 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries from snowmobile accidents.** Striking a fixed object is the cause of most snowmobile accidents, not to mention alcohol use and traveling at night.

Camping, climbing, and horseback riding have their own share of misadventures. In 2012, a woman sued the lodge and outfitters at a resort out west for medical costs and loss of income, as well as punitive damages, after she fell off a rented horse. And what if an employee of your outfit has an accident with your van, truck, or bus? The list goes on and on.

Why Outdoor Adventure Guides Need Specialized Personal Liability Coverage

You have a passion for outdoor adventure activities such as kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, bushwhacking, orienteering, or mountaineering. Perhaps you teach and lead groups free of charge, or do it as a side business. You may even have employees. In any case, you’re doing what you love and are teaching others who share your passion. If you’re supporting yourself in this way, then congratulations on accomplishing what most people dream about but few ever achieve.

Just as you would make every effort to mitigate the physical risks associated with your adventure activity, so should you mitigate your liability risks. Murphy’s law was coined for a reason. Things can and do go wrong, especially in an outdoor adventure setting with neophytes under your care. Nature is unpredictable in many ways, as are people. A pop-up thunderstorm in the mountains, rockfall, a snake bite, a rock turning underfoot, a capsizing kayak, or a fall from a horse — the number of accident scenarios that cause serious injury is endless.

Complicating matters is the fact that people don’t always listen when they should, or fail to act on what you tell them. And that sums it up: when nature’s unpredictability combines with human foibles, accidents are always possible. In fact, it’s just a matter of time, especially when you constantly deal with unfamiliar people.

In addition to the mistakes made by the people under your care, there’s the matter of those you employ. Are they every bit as responsible, competent, and skilled as you? Are they similarly motivated? Given they aren’t making as much money as you, and aren’t as vulnerable to litigation, they may not possess your intense motivation.

Lawsuits Happen

People sue for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s fairly straightforward: they can’t afford the medical costs because they’re underinsured, or the injury has a lasting or life-altering impact. Sometimes it’s a misperception of the facts or of your diligence or competence. In the end, if the person wants to sue and his or her lawyer thinks there’s a good case against you, then a lawsuit will happen. A waiver of liability won’t necessarily shield you.

Insurance for Mountain Guides

Mountain guides take great pride in shepherding people in the mountains, guiding them to places they’ve always wanted to go with the skill set and knowledge of a guide behind them. But mountain guiding is rife with hazards, as mountains are an uncertain place — the weather and avalanche hazards are ever-changing; nothing is perfectly safeguarded. Just ask guides from Utah Mountain Adventures, a backcountry guides and climbing school. Ultimately, it’s not if accidents are going to happen if you’re doing a lot of mountain guiding. It’s when. That’s why Utah Mountain Adventures choose a strong partner in liability insurance for mountain guides — XINSURANCE.

Utah Mountain Adventures has been mountain guiding worldwide since 1993, and with XINSURANCE from day one. “I’m helping my clients achieve great things in the mountains; that’s what XINSURANCE does for me,” says an executive with Utah Mountain Adventures. “They’re providing an opportunity for us to go out and guide mountain climbing and backcountry skiing. I wouldn’t feel comfortable without a great insurance behind us. I know that I can trust them and I can go forward with confidence.”

Mountaineering Liability Insurance

Whether you are a serious mountain climber that risks life and limb or a casual backpacker that enjoys weekend trips to see beautiful forests across the US, mountaineering is a hobby that’s continuing to grow in popularity. With more and more people looking for a way to relax and get away from a busy work life, taking a hike through nature is the perfect way to escape. No matter how long your trip, you know that you always need to be prepared for the worst, whether it’s being lost for half an hour or potentially being caught in a snowstorm that forces you to stay lost for days. While you can carry as many supplies with you as you’d like, you should also take the extra step and make sure you carry a certified mountaineering liability insurance plan with you wherever you go.

While you might have years (or even decades) of experience mountaineering, you can’t predict when accidents will occur and a mountaineering liability insurance plan will help cover unforeseen costs from rescue and evacuation to an ambulance. Some states can even require insurance policies before climbing certain mountains, so be sure you stay safe and legally covered with the right insurance plan before your next trip into the great outdoors.

Life is good but that can change should an accident trigger litigation against you. Preserve your lifestyle, assets, and financial security by identifying and filling insurance gaps that expose you to paying costly damages from a lawsuit. To learn about how specialized personal liability coverage can protect you from legal exposure and financial devastation, contact us.


Published February 25th, 2010. Last Updated December 10th, 2020