Buyer Beware. Investment in Vacant Land Involves Liability Risk.

Learn why vacant land investment property owners need General Liability insurance.

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Read about liability exposure associated with vacant land investment property.

Raw land is the original investment property, as land has always had value. For some investment property owners, land is the investment of choice. For others, it may be new territory. Any investment involves risk. The inherent and often overlooked risk of vacant land ownership is liability. If you own it, you are liable for damages and injury arising out of its use. The smart complement to an investment in vacant land is General Liability insurance.

Liability always follows ownership. Any person(s) injured on your vacant land can sue you for damages, whether or not you granted permission for person(s) to access or use your vacant land. Some circumstances may result in the owner of vacant land incurring liability for property damage. While the possibilities which may give rise to a liability claim against a vacant land owner are numerous, consider a few scenarios on a spectrum of “run-of-the-mill” to “bad things happen”.


An owner of vacant land invites members of a bird-watching club to hike and identify spring migrating birds. Several days of rain result in swampy land. One of the bird watchers loses balance, falls, and breaks an arm. *A General Liability insurance policy would:

 i. cover the costs of the injured person’s medical care;
ii. provide the Insured with liability protection, if legally liable


High school seniors peg the back 40 of privately owned vacant land as the ideal place for a graduation bonfire. What they did not anticipate was its close proximity to the adjacent wooded area owned by a developer on land currently being developed. The bonfire spreads out of control and burns the mature woods owned and retained by the developer as a premium selling feature. *A General Liability insurance policy would cover defense costs incurred by the vacant land owner and pay damages, if legally liable.


Five acres of vacant land tempt the adventurous spirit of teenage ATV enthusiasts. Without permission from the owner of the vacant land, they access the land and rev up their ATV motors. One of them hits a protruding rock at very high speed and accidentally flips the ATV, resulting in extensive, permanent bodily injury. *A General Liability insurance policy would protect and defend the vacant land owner from a potential bodily injury claim.

*The above examples are for illustrative purposes. Actual policy terms, limits, and
conditions would apply.

General Liability insurance for vacant land investment property is inexpensive and well worth the cost, given the range of potential liability exposures. As with any investment property, do your homework before you purchase. Particularly with respect to vacant land, research to find out if there are any environmental hazards associated with prior use, such as farming, manufacturing, landfill, or gas stations. It is important to understand that contamination may be present due to activities that took place on the site, as well as activities that occurred or are occurring at a nearby property. Pollution and contamination are excluded from General Liability insurance coverage. Consider contacting a certified professional to discuss Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments before purchasing.

A General Liability insurance policy does not cover property. If there are any human-made structures on the vacant land, inform your independent insurance agent at Richey-Barrett Insurance.

Richey-Barrett Insurance is your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent for investment property insurance. Advise us if there are changes in the status of your vacant land investment property.

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