Hole-in-one Insurance

Coverage that protects your favorite golf course from the cost of a perfect swing

Insurance may not be the first thing that occurs to you when you think of perks at your local golf course. You’d probably think instead of the excellent martinis at the clubhouse bar or the reduced tee-off price you get for guests with your membership. In fact, you may not have given a moment’s thought to the shiny new Lexus that the club offers anyone who gets a hole-in-one, since, well, what are the odds that that’s ever going to happen?

But did you ever wonder who actually pays for that car, or any other prize your golf course offers for a perfect shot? Well, it’s mostly likely not the golf course itself. Chances are the club has purchased hole-in-one insurance – also known as prize indemnification – to cover the cost of the winnings in the unlikely event that someone actually makes that shot.

Hole-in-one insurance is similar to other big-ticket types of coverage, such as boat insurance or farm insurance Most golf courses utilize this kind of indemnity for major golf tournaments or fundraisers where the prize value – sometimes as high as $1 million – is far more than the club or sponsors could afford to pay.

Most hole-in-one prizes, particularly ones offered at charity or other fundraising events, are offered on a par-3 hole, since offering it on a higher-par hole would usually discourage participation. Insurance companies calculate the premium of this coverage based on a number of factors, including the cash value of the prize, the length of the hole and the number of attempts allowed to each participant.

Despite the unlikelihood of a hole-in-one, most insurers have very specific requirements before they will provide indemnity. Usually the prize must be offered on one specific par-3 hole, not any par-3 on the course. If contest participants are professional golfers, then the premium will obviously be higher than if they were amateurs. And some insurers require shots for any prize worth more than $250,000 to be videotaped.

Still, payouts do happen. One group of insurance companies says it has paid out over $5 million in hole-in-one claims.

So what are the odds on a hole in one, anyway? Well, latest stats show that for PGA-level golfers, it’s about 1 in 3,800; and for amateurs, about 1 in 13,000. Those are some odds that a lot of insurance companies want to take a swing at.

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