If you own a vacant lot, you have to decide if you should buy liability insurance to protect you if someone trips or falls on the land. You should if you allow people on the property and you're worried about someone getting hurt. If you're not, and the threat of lawsuits doesn't bother you, you'd be better off spending your money elsewhere.
Laws vary from state to state, but you usually aren't responsible for injuries to trespassers unless you try to injure them by setting traps or something like that. If you post a sign saying "Keep Out" or "No Entry," then anyone coming onto your land would be a trespasser. However, If you tell people they can walk on the lot, they become licensees. If you don't have signs warning licensees about any hidden dangers a normal person wouldn't see, then you may be held responsible for their well-being.
General Liability Insurance
People buy general liability insurance to cover different types of risks, including injuries to others. Premises liability coverage protects you when people are hurt on your land. You can even buy vacant land insurance that specifically covers land with no buildings or other improvements. Your insurance agent will help determine just how risky your land is to visitors. Lower risk means lower premiums.
Benefits of Insurance
Trespassers may not have any legal right to be on your property, but if they're hurt on your land they can still sue you. If you don't have insurance, you'll need to pay for your own attorney. General liability policies cover that fee if you're sued for something the insurance covers. Insurance will also pay for the injured person's settlement or judgment.
Like any other insurance, buying liability coverage means you could end up paying premiums for something you'll never need. In this case, vacant lots aren't exactly hot spots for injuries. Since there's nothing there, the risk of someone getting hurt are pretty slim. You could use what you would have spent on insurance on fencing and warning signs.
E.S. Martin is an attorney who has worked in civil litigation for more than eight years. He focuses his work in insurance, personal injury, subrogation and risk management.